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Figs often fetch high prices at the grocery store or farmer’s market, but it’s easier than you may think to grow your own—if you live in the right climate and have room for one or more of these shrubs. A large fig can produce plenty of fruit, giving you enough to enjoy along with leftovers to share with friends and neighbors.
Because they can grow into relatively large shrubs, figs can help provide privacy or create a visual screen with their dark green foliage.
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Fresh figs are delicious sun-warmed and fresh off the plant. Ripe figs should be soft to the touch. Because they don't store well, you'll want to use these delicacies—whether it's eating them fresh or drying or freezing them—within a week or so after harvesting.
Many figs will change color as they ripen, but coloration varies between varieties. Take care not to harvest before they're ripe; unlike many fruits, figs don't ripen any more once picked. You'll find figs that aren't fully ripe don't have a rich, sweet flavor and may have an unappealing dry, rubbery texture.
Fig Plant Care
Native to Mediterranean regions, figs like a warm, sunny spot with moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter. If your ground has a high sand or clay content, keep your figs healthy and most productive by amending the soil liberally with organic matter—such as compost, peat, or coconut coir—at planting time, and then topdressing the soil with a 1- to 2-inch-deep layer of organic matter each fall.
If you wish to prune your fig to keep it at a smaller size, the best time is in winter when the plant is dormant and leafless. To keep your fig most productive, remove any offshoots, called suckers, that develop at the base of the plant, as well as any dead or diseased growth. Pruning the main branches back by about a quarter in winter helps ensure you get higher-quality fruit the next year.
If you live in Zones 6 or 7, be sure you select an extra-hardy fig variety. You want to protect your figs from below-average temperatures by wrapping them in burlap and filling the burlap with leaves or pine needles. Alternatively, you can grow figs in large containers, moving them to a protected spot like a garage or shed over winter.