Fig trees are more common than you might think. Although they grow best in a warm Mediterranean climate, fig trees have also become popular as indoor plants. Fig trees are not easy to maintain and suffer from a variety of problems. An important part of caring for your fig tree is being able to prevent or recognise these problems.
Types of Figs
There are two types of figs: edible and nonedible (caprifig). Fig trees are further divided by varieties and by colour. Types of edible figs are the Smyrna, the San Pedro and the common fig. Varieties of edible figs are the Celeste, the Brown Turkey, the Black Mission and the Brunswick. Fig trees produce fruit in a yellow/green or a dark variety.
Problems and Solutions
The most common problems associated with the roots of fig trees are nematodes. Nematodes are worms that infect the roots of fig trees, causing them to swell. This prevents the tree from absorbing the necessary nutrients from the ground and can be fatal to the tree.
Oftentimes, extra water and mulch can help the nematode problem, but to ensure that your fig trees do not have nematodes, it is important that you do not purchase a diseased plant. You can also test your soil to ensure that it is free of nematodes.
There are two fungal diseases that attack the leaves of fig trees. These are rust and mosaic. Both will discolour the leaves and can produce leaf and fruit drop.
Rust disease can be controlled through the use of a neutral copper spray. This spray is applied in the early summer months of May or June. Mosaic disease can be controlled by making sure that the tree does not come into contact with any cuttings or graft pieces that have diseases or insects.
There are various fungi that will destroy fig fruit. There is also the more damaging aspergillus rot that is caused by insects.
Fruit fungus problems can usually be treated with a fungicide. The rot can be cured only by destroying the entire tree. The ground around the tree must also be treated with chemicals to keep the insects away from a newly planted tree or from other trees in the orchard or yard.
The more informed you are about fig trees and problems that they encounter, the better prepared you will be to grow and care for these unique trees.