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How to Grow 'Chicago Hardy' Fig

If you love figs, you may be interested to know you can easily grow your own in our region! Figs are delicious as a snack themselves, in jams and jellies, dishes and desserts. To us, they are a decadent-tasting fruit! 'Chicago Hardy' fig is as its name suggests, hardy in our region, stays compact so it fits well in smaller landscapes, and can even be grown in a container pot. If left to its own devices and not often pruned, it can grow to be 10' tall by 10' wide.

If grown in a container, it will not reach its mature size. You'll need to keep an eye on watering. Container pots usually dry out quicker than when a plant is in the ground, therefore, checking the top 2" of soil every couple of days is important so your tree receives enough water. When it is dry approximately 2" down into the soil, it is time to water. Water slowly into the pot so the plant can truly soak up the water and not simple drain out of the bottom of the pot right away.

Fig trees need full sun and loamy, well-draining, nutrient-rich soil. When planted in nutrient-rich soil, fertilizing in spring is usually all that is needed, and for that we recommend Fox Farm's Happy Frog Fruit and Flower fertilizer.

For fig trees that are planted in the ground, water to where the soil is moist but not soggy. In the fall, place a thick layer of mulch around the base of the plant. It will help insulate the tree during winter.

'Chicago Hardy' fig is self-pollinating, so you do not need another variety for cross-pollinating. Fig trees can produce their first year in the ground, and will just continue to produce more over the next several years. It's important to know that you need to wait for figs to turn mostly purple before picking- they will not ripen further once they've been picked!

When pruning, you can prune into a shrub or a tree. If you're growing in the ground (verses in a pot), allowing it to grow multiple trunks is great because it is it's natural form and produces more fruit. Prune in January or February, and take off any dead branches. Also, prune any branches that disable the plant from having good air flow throughout. Never remove more than 1/3 of the tree.

'Chicago Hardy' fig is available now at the garden center in 3 gallon pots for $75.

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