Gardening and Plant FAQs

Q: Why do my Fig Tree Fruits not Develop then Drop Off?

Figs on treeGrowing Figs in the UK can be challenging

Growing figs successfully in the UK can be a challenge due to our climate. In warmer climates successive crops of good ripe fruit can be produced. In this country though, if you are growing figs outside it is probably best to try and produce just one good crop.

Fig fruits that start to form in late summer and autumn will not develop fully before winter. As a result they are usually checked and damaged by the cold winter weather. They do however continue to develop in the spring but unsuccessfully, permanently damaged and eventually splitting and falling from the plant.

The temporary pause in the development of the fruits during winter and consequent loss of them actually delays the development of the next batch of flowers and fruits that should begin to form in the following spring. This crop therefore also often fails because of the delay.

The solution to this problem is therefore all about prompt development of the spring buds. To make sure this happens on time, it is necessary to quite literally remove every fruit from the plant in the autumn, around November time. The plant will therefore not carry any fruit over the winter and spring flower buds will begin to develop on time and consequently the fruits will have the whole of the summer to plump up and ripen properly.

Pruning fig trees properly can also help to produce a good crop. Remove branches that are crowded or rubbing against each other. It is especially important to keep the centre of the plant open to allow free air-flow (this helps to prevent pests and diseases) and also expose the fruits to as much sun as possible.

If there are any long, bare branches, maybe with foliage only growing at the tips these can be cut hard back to encourage new shoots that are more likely to be fruit productive. Side shoots can also be manipulated to encourage fruits by cutting back to lengths that only have half a dozen leaves, promoting flower bud development.


Filed under FAQs: Growing Fruit and Veg.

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