A common occurrence to happen when growing figs, is they ripen at different times or struggle to ripen at all. You can often notice them at different stages of ripeness (on the same tree). Having an odd couple of ripe figs and the rest struggling can be very annoying, but there are things that you can do to speed up the ripening process.
Figs on a tree take about a couple of months to ripen, usually middle to late summer, and should not be picked until they have fully ripened. You know when they are fully ripe when they have changed color, are soft to touch, fluid starts to drip out, the stalk on the top of the fig has arched over and started to split.
Why are your figs not ripening?
The main reasons why figs are not ripening are they’re not getting enough sun, planted in the wrong conditions, pests, disease, lack of fertilizer, and lack of water. But don’t overfeed them because this can encourage too much foliage, and don’t overwater them because this can cause split figs.
How to make figs ripen faster on the tree
I remember reading somewhere that if you put olive oil at the base of each fig, it makes them ripen faster. I’m not sure if this is true, but I do think that doing this will affect the taste. Instead of doing that, you need to do these steps:
- Make sure the tree is planted in the correct conditions. Poor soil and the lack of root space will affect the growth of your tree and the fruit. They need to be grown in compost that has enough space for the roots to expand, although restricting the root space a little will make your tree give more effort on growing the fruit.
- Give the tree enough sun. Not enough sunlight will affect your figs, be sure that it is planted somewhere that has plenty of sun in a sheltered position.
- Keep it watered and fed. You should not overwater your tree, but it does need to have plenty of fluids to fruit properly, especially throughout the summer. Never let it dry out. When the fruit starts to grow, fertilize your tree weekly with a general-purpose fertilizer. If your fig tree is growing in a container, it needs fertilizer weekly, throughout spring and summer.
- Protect from pests and diseases. If your tree has problems with pests or showing signs of disease, it needs to be sorted out with insecticide and pesticide.
- Remove all of the leaves. If your figs are struggling to ripen too far into the summer, you need to remove all of the leaves. This will trick your tree into thinking its a different season and gives it more encouragement. It also gives it more sunlight which makes it work faster.
- Trim the tips of the branches. Don’t go around attacking all of the branches, but just remove any dead wood on the tips of each branch, and remove any suckers and unnecessary branches that are of no use.
As soon as your figs have ripened you need to pick them off the tree immediately, and never neglect the tree. You should wash all of your figs and freeze any excess ones that you won’t consume straight away. Don’t freeze any that are overripe or too soft, eat those first, because those ones are no good for freezing.
Being proactive is better than being reactive. Making sure that your fig tree is planted in the correct conditions – in compost with plenty of sunlight, sheltered, fed fertilizer, watered regularly (especially when the weather is hot), protected from pests and disease, and never neglected. This will ensure that you have ripe figs in the summer.