How to Transplant a Fig Tree?

The fig tree (Ficus carica L.) is a perennial fruiting shrub that is available in several varieties. This tree thrives at its best in full sun and full-drained moist but not consistently wet soil. If you are wondering how to transplant a fig tree and what is the best time to do it, keep reading.

The best time to transplant a fig tree is during winter dormancy. Fig roots (i.e., the root ball) need to be 1 foot per 1 inch of the fig tree’s trunk diameter. Although fig trees do well with fertilizers, do not fertilize after transplanting. Fig tree cuttings are an alternative to transplanting.

Here’s a complete winter gardening: the master guide that tells you more about growing plants in winter.

How to Transplant a Fig Tree?

The process of transplanting a fig tree can take up to an entire year. 

Before you move the tree, there should be a root ball established so that the shorter roots can develop and start absorbing nutrients until your fig tree is settled. 

It means that before the actual transplanting, you need to make preparations.

Root Prune

  • Measure the diameter of the trunk of your fig tree and determine the root ball size you’ll have to preserve. The root ball needs to be one foot wide for every inch of the trunk’s thickness. For instance, for a trunk of 3-inch thickness, your root ball should be three feet.
  • Remove the soil or sod from the surroundings of the tree to ensure that there is nothing else competing for the moisture and nutrients.
  • The best time to start the process of root pruning is in spring, a year before you want to process the transplantation. Take a shovel and press it 10 to 12 inches deep in the ground. Make sure, the depth should be a few inches smaller than the root ball you want to create.
  • In a similar manner, create a circle around the tree with cut and uncut sections. It will let half of the roots cut through and leave the rest of the half. You will be cutting the remaining section after six months, later in the fall.

Get the Fig Tree Out

  • Before you are ready to transplant, for a healthy plant, prune the branches to one-third of their original length. It helps in ensuring you that the top of the plant is not growing vigorously while the roots are still in the recovering phase.
  • Using a shovel, cut into the ground six to eight inches wider from the pruned area to make sure that you are not harming the newly-grown roots. Keep digging down in an inward position to make a conical shape.
  • Cut the longest, straight-grown root part – the taproot – and the tree will tip over ready to be moved.
  • Now, using a tractor, move the tree with the root ball onto a plastic trap. You can do it manually as well, but you would need a couple of people to help.
  • Thoroughly wet down the roots and wrap the ball in plastic from the trap or plastic landscaping material. You can use peat moss to keep the roots wet.

Replanting the Plant

  • You must have already selected a place to replant the tree. Dig a hole a little larger than the root ball of the fig tree that you’ll be replanting.
  • Carefully place the tree into the hole. Make sure you neither disturb the root ball nor dislodge the soil from around the root fibers.
  • Fill the empty ground space around the tree with sandy soil and press it ensuring there are no air pockets. Nothing to worry about if the tree’s soil level is a little lower than its surroundings.
  • Water the plant thoroughly and do not fertilize it in the first year.

Best Time to Transplant Fig Tree

You can transplant potted fig plants almost any time of the year. 

However, the best time to transplant a fig plant is during dormancy; once stems have shed their leaves and before new leaves start forming. 

This is the time of the year when trees hibernate, although the roots remain active.

One of the reasons that make this time of the year suitable for a fig tree to be transplanted is that its roots have enough time to establish themselves in the new ground before they get the responsibility of new leaves and fruit production.

Also, when you plant a fig tree during late fall, it requires less watering and saves your efforts. 

If you have transplanted it during growing seasons, make sure to provide your fig tree with plenty of water.

If you are interested in growing your own food, you should also read how to transplant cucumbers.

When to Repot Fig Tree?

A fig tree can usually be repotted during all mild to moderate seasons. 

However, you should not try repotting when the ground is frozen or there is excessive heat. 

Other than that, you can repot your fig tree anytime.

How to Transplant Fig Tree Cuttings

If you are looking to grow new fig-trees, propagating them with cuttings is an economical way. 

Instead of buying a new plant from a nursery, you can transplant a new one from an old fig tree from your friend’s house. Let’s see how you can do this.

Process of Transplanting a Fig Tree from Cuttings

Transplanting a fig tree from cuttings is a simple process. Here are the steps about how to do this.

  • The ideal season to propagate a cutting is a dormant season or winter. However, you can do it during other seasons as well, but the success rate would be a little lower.
  • Get more than 1, preferably, many cuttings from your favorite fig plant. Select the branches that are young, not thicker than ½ to 1 cm, and about 10 to 20 cm in length.
  • Filla 10-cm wide pot with compost. Now cut the lower end of the cuttings to 45 degrees and place is the pot. At this point, you don’t need special compost. The depth of the hole in which you have placed the cutting should not be more than 5 cms. Water the pot thoroughly.
  • Place the pot at a spot that receives a lot of light but not direct sunlight. You also need to keep the pot away from direct wind.
  • Keep an eye on the pot soil and water it when you feel the soil is very dry. Please note that the water frequency depends on the season as well. In about four weeks, you will start noticing new leaves.

You can further read about fig cuttings and their propagation in this article.

How to Root Fig Tree Cuttings

After four weeks, you would need to repot your fig plant, and then later you will be ready to transplant it.

  • Once the faster growth of the plant starts, move your baby plant to a large pot.
  • After the plant becomes stronger, you can transplant your plant to the ground outdoor in a suitable condition.

Read about cuttings of different plants and how to use them to grow new plants in cuttings: how to propagate your favorite plants.

How to Propagate Fig Tree?

If you are wondering how to propagate a fig tree, there are several ways to do this. 

Some of the most common ways are:

Hardwood Cuttings

These cuttings are taken directly from fig trees. Take 10 – 20 cm long cuttings with ½ to 1 cm thickness, you are good to propagate fig tree with these hardwood cuttings. These cuttings are taken during winters when the tree is dormant.

Other Cuttings

You can also propagate a fig tree with summer cuttings that are usually known as soft cuttings. You would need to remove leaves before you can start the propagating process.

If you want to propagate a fig tree with hardwood cuttings, rooting dormant hardwood cuttings is helpful.

How to Plant a Fig Tree?

Figs grow in different climates; from Mediterranean climate to temperate regions, there are several varieties of figs found.

While planting a fig tree, choosing the right spot makes a big difference. 

These low-maintenance trees can thrive in a wide type of draining soil. 

However, the soil needs to contain a high volume of organic material to support the tree growth and the fruiting process.

It is recommended to choose a spot for a fig tree that is at least 20 to 30 feet away from any structure and other plants to allow enough space for the fig tree’s mature spread.

When planted under the right conditions, a fig tree doesn’t need much attention. 

However, in the beginning, you need to water the plant carefully as it helps in healthy root growth.

Fig Tree Roots

Fig plants have fibrous roots that are usually shallow. 

Depending on the location and variety of the plant, the roots can grow vertically or laterally. 

The roots of a fig tree can spread as wide as 50 feet around its surroundings.

How to Root a Fig Tree

There are several ways you can root a fig tree such as from seeds and cuttings. 

However, the easiest way to root a fig plant is using its cuttings. 

Place the cutting in a 10 cm pot filled with compost in a 5 cm deep hole. 

Water the plant regularly, and within 4 weeks, roots will develop and the plant will be ready to be shifted to a larger pot.

The Last Words

Although figs are fun and easy to grow, you need to be careful in some aspects. 

Above, we have discussed some easy ways to propagate a fig plant from cutting and ways to transplant a small plant in new grounds to let it grow at its full capacity. 

You can follow the procedure to transplant your fig plant. 

If you have any questions about the fig plant, get in touch with us. 

About the author

Greg Volente

Greg Volente holds a Naturalist Certificate from the Morton Arboretum, worked for The Nature Conservancy leading environmental education programs and doing natural areas restoration, and worked in the soil science research & testing lab at Michigan State University. Besides gardening, he's an avid wildflower enthusiast, and loves botanizing, hiking, and backpacking.

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