There is little that is more satisfying or joyful than picking a ripe and juicy fig from your own tree. They seem to taste all the sweeter knowing that you have poured love and kindness into helping them grow.
It’s a long-observed fact that fig trees and shrubs need plenty of sunshine in order to yield the biggest harvests and if grown in nutrient-rich soil, can even tolerate periods of time without water. Possibly the reason that they are a staple on the landscape of many Mediterranean settings.
If grown in the right conditions, fig trees and shrubs are not particularly heavy feeders. However, they do benefit from being fertilized at specific times of the year and that can alter depending on climate and the soil in which they are grown.
Keep reading to find out more on how to feed your fig tree and when, plus insider knowledge and first-hand experience in testing the best fertilizer for fig trees.
- Best Fertilizer for Fig Trees
- Choosing the Best Fig Tree Fertilizer
- 5 Best Fig Tree Fertilizers Reviewed
- Fertilizing Fig Trees
- Verdict: Best Fertilizer For Fig Trees
Best Fertilizer for Fig Trees
Out of the products I have tested over the years, I tend to still come back to the slow-release fertilizers, and the two I have shortlisted below are ideal for top dressing or for a slow-release fertilizer spike lasting up to 8 weeks.
Best Top Dressing
Excellent granular fertilizer for all fruiting edibles, with an easy-to-use Shake N Feed style cap.
Best Slow Release
Convenient pre-measured fertilizer spikes simply push them into the ground to provide a slow-release feed for up to 8 weeks.
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Choosing the Best Fig Tree Fertilizer
When choosing your fig tree fertilizer, you want to make sure that it includes the right balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Keeping in mind that every plant needs a different blend of these nutrients, in fact, fruiting or flowering plants often benefits from different dosages of each nutrient during different growth stages.
A study performed by Stavros Sotiropoulos, Christos Paschalidis, and Victor Kavvadias from the Technological Institute of Kalamata in Greece, points to the importance of nitrogen in overall fig tree fruit yield, and arguably the single most important nutrient. However, that’s not to say more nitrogen is better, it means nitrogen plays a key role in overall cell production.
Fruiting trees also need phosphorus and potassium to bear good crops. The truth is most fertilizers with a reasonably balanced NPK (10-10-10) will perform well, especially if they are designed for fruiting trees or crops as they will contain trace element magnesium, boron, and calcium among other important minerals.
With this in mind, the fertilizer I use is partially selected due to their NPK ratio (7-6-9 and 9-12-12), but also their practicality, the fact that they are slow-release, easy to apply, and contain the trace elements required for healthy fruit trees.
Understanding Fig Tree Fertilizer N-P-K
An N-P-K ratio represents the vital nutrients that all plants require for robust growth, flowering, and fruiting.
Nitrogen is required to establish healthy growth. It is also the element responsible for that beautifully distinct fig leaf shape and color.
Phosphorus aids in the development of healthy growth and is also needed to help your fig tree use and store photosynthesized energy efficiently.
Potassium is particularly important in fig tree fertilizers. Potash – as it is also known – fuels the production of buds, flowers, and that all-important fruit. As well as protect the trees and their fruit against diseases and infection.
You can find the ratio of these nutrients on fertilizer labels by looking out for a sequence of 3 numbers. For example, a fertilizer containing 3% nitrogen, 5% phosphorous, and 6% potassium would be stated as 3-5-6 on the label.
Granules vs. Liquid Feeds
Fig tree fertilizers come in a variety of application methods. Two of the most popular options are easy-to-use granules and fast-acting liquids. Which one of these turns out to be the best method of application in your situation will very much depend on the current health status of your trees, and how much time you generally spend caring for your garden as a whole.
Liquid fertilizers penetrate the soil immediately and therefore offer fast delivery of nutrient content to the tree. The liquid nutrients are absorbed through the tree roots and metabolized. Liquids can revitalize an ailing tree far quicker than solid fertilizers such as granules or spikes. Liquids can also be used as a foliar spray on yellowing leaves to increase chlorophyll production.
Up front, liquids are often the cheaper option. But, given that they need to be applied more frequently, the cost usually balances out, compared to granular feeds. One major downside with liquids is the short-lived impact. The liquid fertilizer is mobile, and as such as easily be washed out of the soil by rainfall. Liquids are ideal for application during key stages of the plant’s growth, such as during flowering or fruiting, or when there is a nutrient deficiency and immediate intervention is required.
Liquids are available as concentrates to be diluted, or water-soluble granules to be dissolved and watered in.
Most gardeners have a fertilizing schedule in their minds each season. Perhaps an early spring feed and then again at regular intervals throughout the season. This is where a slow-release or controlled-release granular fertilizer is ideal. I would consider synthetic granules and organic pellets as granules.
The granules are broadcast across the surface of the soil and dug into the soil, or treated as a top dressing. They can also be added to planting holes when transplanting plants. The granules slowly release nutrients as they dissolve from contact with moisture, over a period of weeks. The nutrients gradually wash down into the soil to be absorbed by the plant.
Fertilizer spikes are essentially a tablet of compacted slow-release fertilizer. They are pre-measured and come in different sizes for use with different plants or trees. It’s a case of inserting the spike into the soil around the tree drip line. Depending on the tree size the spikes are evenly spaced around the perimeter of the drip line to disperse nutrients in a similar fashion to slow-releasing granules. Spikes provide up to 8 weeks of continual feed and present a lower risk of root burn, making them ideal for smaller trees.
If you prefer slow-releasing methods, the trick is to purchase granule and spike fertilizers in bulk. This lowers the price per unit significantly and given their longer shelf life, you can just store them in a cool, dry place until needed.
That being said, some gardeners find liquid fertilizer easier to manage and are able to control dosage much easier.
Organic vs. Synthetic
The difference between these two is primarily the source of ingredients. Synthetic fertilizers for fig trees and other fruit bearers are made from lab-manufactured compounds that offer nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (as well as trace elements), in higher doses than in natural materials. Some brands combine these with natural ingredients but are not considered organic. While their use typically triggers a bigger response in fig trees, they can have a damaging effect on the environment, especially if not used correctly.
Conversely, organic fig tree fertilizers are produced using naturally occurring ingredients such as soil mycorrhizae (microbes) and plant and animal by-products. These convey nutrients at a similar pace to what plants and trees would receive in the wild and tend to result in a healthier response. Not to mention, increase the long-term fertility of your soil. Something synthetics don’t do.
5 Best Fig Tree Fertilizers Reviewed
The two key characteristics of a healthy-looking fig tree are a plentiful crop of fruit and large, vibrant, green leaves. To achieve this you need a fertilizer that provides an even balance of nutrients for the majority of the growing season and a heavy dose of potassium to boost the size, number, and quality of fruit at harvest time. The side benefit of increased resistance to disease and temperature fluctuations doesn’t hurt either.
Through careful research, meticulous testing, and first-hand user experience, I’ve selected my best fig tree fertilizer top picks to share with you with the intention of removing the legwork so that you can get right on with fertilizing.
Best Top Dressing
- Versatile enough to use on an assortment of edible plants
- High dose of potassium for optimum growth and size of fruit, with trace minerals calcium and magnesium
- A fast-acting formula that shows results within a week of application
- Comes in convenient and resealable packaging for long-term storage
- Some users were put off by the odor
- A bit more expensive compared to other plant food products in the market
Miracle-Gro Performance Organics delivers an exceptional solution when it comes to fertilizing fig trees in all stages of maturity. It’s also gentle enough for young tree saplings and container plants. This granular feed is packed with essential nutrients to see you through the season.
The 7% nitrogen got my fig trees off to a flying start at the beginning of the growing season. I used this to give shoots and buds production a helping hand and initially applied it every 6 weeks. Increasing that to every 4 weeks once the fruit began to grow. The results were lots of disease-free fruit and a strong, healthy tree with plenty of new growth as the season progressed.
This is an excellent fertilizer to use if you are growing multiple edible plants. I used it on my tomato plants as well as a strawberry plant fertilizer and the results were similar to the success I enjoyed with my figs.
How To Use: As you can see in the images above, I just sprinkle the granules across the soil around the trunk, and then you can lightly dig in, and then water thoroughly. Increase dosage as the fruit develops. I used around 1 cup of fertilizer per month on each tree.
Best Slow Release Fertilizer
- Simple to use with outstanding results, protection from disease, and no runoff
- Can be used for Lemon, Lime, Orange, Avocado, and many other fruiting trees too
- Higher price point overall when compared to granules and liquid fertilizers
Making our list again is Jobe’s, this time with their fruit and citrus fertilizer spikes. I’m all for making gardening easy and these spikes do just that with their no-fuss, mess-free, and pre-measured solution to fertilizing.
These offer strong phosphorus and potassium support for increased flowering and fruiting while offering leaves, stems, and stalks sufficient nitrogen. Better yet, one application will continue to do so for up to 8 weeks. These are a great way to minimize the risk of root burn that some other, harsher fertilizers may bring.
As you might expect with Jobe’s, these spikes contain their signature Biozome formula, a potent combination of healthy bacteria, Mycorrhizal fungi, and Archaea that breaks down nutrients into the soil that are then absorbed by the roots of your fig tree.
How To Use: As you can see in the image above, I place the plastic protective spike cap on the end of the spike. Then check the packet to find your dosage. My two fig trees have 3-inch trunks, so I use 3 spikes per tree. Insert the spike into the soil 30″ away from the trunk, to avoid root bunching. The instructions on the packaging are simple and clear. In our sample, there were 8 spikes in one pack, or you can buy 15 spikes packs.
- Balanced enough to use throughout the growing season
- Ideal for fig trees planted in nutrient-rich soil
- Strong ‘natural-smelling’ odor
Anywhere you look online, you’ll find Jobe’s popping up as a top-rated fertilizer product and it’s easy to see why. A lot of people praise this fertilizer for effectively nourishing plants and trees while causing little to no harm to the environment.
With one application of Jobe’s fertilizer granules, every 4 to 6 weeks, your fig trees will receive a slow release of nutrients that includes Jobes’ unique Biozome formula (beneficial microorganisms) into the soil for increased nutrient absorption.
This is my preferred option for fig trees that are already planted in fertile soil and simply need a helping hand with producing well-sized and disease-free fruit. Click here for Jobe’s Organics Fruit & Citrus Granular Fertilizer
How To Use: Apply every 4-6 weeks, spread granules evenly over the ground around the trunk, lightly dig in, and water thoroughly. Continue to use it throughout the growing season.
- Great for ailing trees, especially those planted in poor soil
- All-natural and 100% organic – great product for the environment
- Higher price point overall when compared to other fruit tree fertilizers
Down To Earth is an up-and-coming business with the environment at the top of its agenda. This is their Fruit Tree fertilizer containing an all-natural mix of alfalfa meal, feather Meal, Fish Bone Meal, and Calcium Carbonate. This heady mix offers a slow-release option that not only feeds your fig trees but also enriches the soil in which they are planted.
I tried this on an ailing fig tree and within just 3 weeks I began to notice new shoots and healthier-looking foliage. I continued to use it throughout the summer months and was pleased to see an increased crop of figs compared to the previous year. Plus, it has a much more bearable odor than a lot of other organic brands (looking at you, Jobe), so it’s certainly a more enjoyable experience. Click for Down To Earth Organic Fruit Tree Fertilizer Prices from Amazon.com
This fertilizer is specific to fruit trees so it’s not as versatile as some of the other fertilizers I’ve featured here and it can work out a little expensive pound for a pound since the application rate is more than with others. But it’s definitely worth the investment if you have a fig tree that’s not producing as expected.
How to use: For established trees, use up to 4 times a year. For new trees, more applications are needed. The product must be mixed with soil as per the instructions.
- Contains no chicken manure or extra fillers
- Safe around people, pets, and wildlife
- May exhibit a slight, natural odor
This organic, powder-based feed works wonders on fig trees, and I can see why. Dr. Earth has provided proven results for over 30 years.
The 5-5-2 NPK combination together with their trademark TruBiotic formula releases organic microbes and mycorrhizae into the soil. In turn, this is absorbed via the roots in order to stimulate robust overall tree development and as well as deliciously nutritious fruit for trees in nitrogen-poor soil.
Dr. Earth Natural Wonder is a slow-release option however, the granules create a nutrient-rich environment to promote lush foliage and plenty of fruit. See Dr. Earth Natural Wonder Fruit Tree Fertilizer prices here.
Their specific blend formula provides optimum results even in drought-tolerant areas or those with shorter growing seasons, making it the perfect fertilizer whether you are growing figs in containers or in soil. Plus, it’s people and pets safe.
How To Use: For established fruit trees, work 1 cup of fertilizer into the soil within the drip line every three months throughout the growing season. For new trees, add 2 cups to the planting hole and water thoroughly.
Fertilizing Fig Trees
Fig trees are pretty much low maintenance when they are planted in nutrient-rich soil, and receive ample moisture and plenty of sunshine. Not every fig tree gets to luxuriate in those conditions however and so will need a boost of nutrients to help it thrive.
How To Fertilize Figs
Whether you choose a liquid fertilizer, granules or spikes always take some time to read the label of the product you are using before you begin. Avoid getting dry, slow-release products on the trunk, stems, and leaves as this can cause fertilizer burn and risk of disease.
Instead, apply the recommended quantity of fertilizer to the soil near the drip line. Granules will need to be gently worked into the soil. Then, soak the area with water to activate them. I like to rake some dirt around the area where I applied the fertilizer to prevent water from flowing away from the application zone.
When To Fertilize Figs
If the soil your fig tree is planted in is somewhat lacking in nutrients then you will need to fertilize at the start of the growing season, in early spring. Regardless of soil type, you’ll need to feed your fig tree regularly with a potassium-rich fertilizer once fruit begins to develop.
I don’t recommend fertilizing in the fall as this can encourage new fruit to form that could then become susceptible to frost during the winter months. I like to spread a thick layer of mulch around fig trees in the fall. This will help to replenish those nutrients that have become depleted during the growing season.
How Often to Apply Fertilizer
If your soil fertility needs improving, use one of the quality slow-release fertilizers above that introduce beneficial fungi and other microbes for improved, long-term moisture and nutrient absorption. These need infrequent applications, between 2-8 weeks depending on the brand. Liquids will need weekly to monthly repeating.
When fruit begins to appear, as the growing season progresses, it’s important to switch to a fertilizer with higher proportions of phosphate and potassium. For this, I use granules over liquid feed so that I can monitor how much I’m using.
Verdict: Best Fertilizer For Fig Trees
Without a doubt, the best fertilizer for fig trees is Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Edibles Plant Nutrition Granules. It’s effective and organic, will provide a balance of nutrients throughout the growing season, and is versatile enough to use on other edible plants in your garden.
For those of you with soil that is already nutrient-rich, my top pick is Jobe’s Organic Fruit & Citrus Granular Fertilizer. This one is for helping your fig tree to grow the biggest, juiciest fruit crop with its higher potassium contents.
Or, if you prefer the effortless convenience of a fertilizer spike, then you should buy Jobe’s Fruit & Citrus Fertilizer Spikes. These have the same patented Biozome formula and offer even more potassium than their organic granular counterpart. Plus, it has far fewer odors and no runoff compared to other brands, making this easy to use as well as effective.
College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences – Fig Trees
Cambridge University – Fruit Tree Yield