A family heirloom, named after plantsman Steve Castorani's mother Letizia, whose parents brought the fig all the way from Italy. Since the 1930s, over many years, the plant has grown to a multi-stemmed tree, dense with beautiful, neatly lobed green leaves. An easy-to-grow ornamental bush, with large crops of fantastic brown fruits. Enjoy the summer harvest of luscious flavor from the old home country.
Figs are easy to grow in warm climates, and produce best in areas with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. They thrive well in full sun, and when given enough space to grow. Most mature trees are hardy to Zone 7. When growing figs in colder areas, protect them from cold winter winds and freezing temperatures. Plants can be grown in pots and stored indoors in the winter. When grown outdoors, plant your fig trees around 10 feet apart, where they will benefit from a southern, warmer exposure. Until young plants are fully established, provide protection from cold spells.
Overwintering: Figs that are dormant before cold weather arrives can stand temperatures down to 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit. If the top is killed, the plant will likely come back from the base. To protect figs from cold weather: 1) Bend or weigh down the tree, 2) Take potted plants indoors or into a greenhouse, 3) Take large potted plants out of the pot and bury them. When low temperatures have killed some of the stem tissues, fruits can fail to ripen and growth is retarded. Trees can be cut back to the ground, to grow a new top from suckers that emerge.
Figs require well-drained, fertile, loamy soil. Loosen the soil and add organic matter. Set your plants at around the same level as they were in the pot. Water thoroughly after planting, and regularly, once each week, until plants are well established. Once established, trees are drought tolerant. Their roots are shallow, without a taproot, and spreads out to 2-3 times the diameter of the tree’s canopy. Do not plant figs close to fast-growing plants that will compete for water and nutrients.
Provide 2-3 cups of balanced fertilizer 2 times a year to mature trees planted in the ground. In containers, figs can benefit from a complete slow-release fertilizer, or adding compost organically. Water regularly during the growing season, but hold off on watering during fall, to harden plants off.
Edible figs bear only female flowers. Varieties for home gardens do not need pollination to set fruit. The fruit is botanical, an enlarged, fleshy, hollow peduncle (or stem) that bears tiny flowers in masses on its inner wall. When we eat a fig, we are eating the tissues that holds the true fruits.
Figs need at least 8 hours of sun and heat to help ripen the fruit. Figs are not tasty until soft and fully ripe. Wait till the fruits are soft and ripe before harvesting. Once picked and removed from the tree, fruits do not continue to ripen. Fruits can keep in the refrigerator for around a week, until used fresh, dried or in preserves. Soft fruits are delicate and easily bruise, so handle them with care.