Why A Fig Tree Is Not Producing Fruit


By: Heather Rhoades

Fig trees are an excellent fruit tree to grow in your garden, but when your fig tree does not produce figs, it can be frustrating. Understanding the reasons for a fig tree not producing fruit can make this a little less frustrating.

Reasons for a Fig Tree Not Producing Fruit

First, in this article we will be covering information on why a fig tree will not fruit. Read our article on fig trees dropping fruit if you are looking for that information.

When a fig tree is not fruiting, there are a few reasons that this could be happening. The age of the tree, too much nitrogen and water are the three main reasons for a fig tree not producing fruit.

Fig Tree Not Fruiting Because of Age

The most common reason for a fig tree not producing fruit is simply its age. Trees, like animals, need to reach a certain maturity before they can produce offspring. Fruit is how a fig tree creates seeds. If the fig tree is not old enough to produce seeds, it will also not produce fruit.

Typically, a fig tree will not fruit until it reaches two years old, but it can take some trees as long as six years to reach the right maturity.

There is nothing you can do to speed up the rate a tree matures at. Time and patience are the only fixes for this.

Fig Tree Not Producing Fruit Because of Too Much Nitrogen

Another common reason that a fig tree is not producing figs is because of too much nitrogen. This commonly happens when you are using a fertilizer that is too high in nitrogen. Nitrogen causes the plant to have lush growth in leaves and branches, but very little, if any, fruit.

If you suspect that your fig tree may not be growing figs because of too much nitrogen, start using a lower nitrogen fertilizer or add some phosphorus to the soil to counter the nitrogen.

Fig Tree Will Not Fruit Because of Watering Conditions

If a fig tree is suffering from water stress from either too little or too much water, this can cause it to stop producing figs or never start producing, especially if it is a younger tree. Water stress will send the tree into a survival mode and the fig tree will simply not have the energy needed to invest in making fruit.

If your fig tree is getting too little moisture, increase the water. Remember, fig trees in pots will need daily watering when the temperatures rise above 65 degrees F. (18 C.) and twice daily watering when the temps go above 80 degrees F. (26 C.).

If your fig tree is getting too much water, either cut back your watering or improve the drainage in the area or in the pot. Don’t let fig trees grow in standing water.

These are the most common reasons that fig trees will not make fig fruit. There are many other less common reasons that are mostly tied to the nutrients in the soil. If you feel that the above reasons are not what is affecting your fig tree, have the soil tested and amend according to the results of this test.

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Factsheet | HGIC 1353 | Published: Oct 27, 2012 | Print

When it comes to growing homegrown fruit, nothing could be easier than figs. Cultivated for thousands of years, figs have few demands on their caregivers. There are about 470 varieties of common figs — the ones we grow in the southeast. Their delectable fruit can be eaten fresh, preserved, or used in cakes and desserts like ice cream.

Figs should be sited in a well-drained location in full sun.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2012 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Figs should be sited in a well-drained location in full sun. They can grow into large trees or shrubs from 15 to 30 ft tall, but severe pruning can restrict them to a manageable height because they tend to grow wider than taller. Figs can be cultivated as edible shade trees, summertime screens, and espaliered or container-grown specimens. They do well in most parts of South Carolina except in the mountains.


SERIES 30 | Episode 07

Figs (Ficus carica cv.) are a brilliant fruiting tree for home gardens, but they are renowned for throwing out suckers – vigorous stem growth that pops up from the roots, often some distance away from the trunk of the tree. As Tino tells us, it’s ideal to remove this for a few reasons, namely:

  • They make the tree messy, and can make accessing and harvesting the fruit difficult
  • They can be pest highways, allowing pests to move freely from the ground to the new canopy foliage
  • Suckers can divert precious nutrients and energy away from the main part of the tree, impacting fruit quality and yield

Fig trees root readily, and where cuttings or stems come into contact with the ground, they will begin to put out roots. This makes them a great practice cutting for novice gardeners – take a clean cutting from a fig flush with the stem, and place into a shady spot. Leave for a day or so, and they will be ready to pot up – the will come away very readily and very quickly.

There are three different types of cuttings that can be taken from a fig tree:

  1. Soft, thin, strong growing tip -
  2. Longer cutting with root nodes
  3. Thicker “truncheon” cutting

To place these cuttings into a pot without damaging the roots, Tino recommends

  • Filling the pot 1/3 rd of the way with potting mix
  • Make some shallow holes in the potting mix
  • Lay in the thicker two of the cuttings
  • Backfill the pot until almost full
  • Gently insert the softer cutting
  • Top-up the pot with potting mix and tap down
  • Water in – and you’ll be munching on figs in no time.


Church of the Great God

By Dan Elmore Forerunner, "Ready Answer," September-October 2011

Poet Edgar A. Guest once wrote a poem entitled "The Dead Oak Tree":

An oak tree died the other day
Despite my constant care
Now men must carry it away
And leave my garden bare.

It came to leaf in early spring,
To live 'twas guaranteed
Man is so vain and proud a thing,
He vaunted God, indeed.

For how can mortal guarantee
The breath of life, and say
That he can keep within a tree
What God may take away?

It cannot be that man can sense,
As do the sun and rain,
What living trees experience
Of loneliness and pain.

I think they never heard it sigh,
Nor ever dreamed a tree
Could, broken-hearted, pine and die,
Who wrote that guarantee.

Mr. Guest's thoughtful poem brings to mind an incident in the life of Jesus Christ, in which He cursed a fig tree that had not borne fruit. This scene occurred quite late in His ministry, just after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem before His final Passover. Matthew 21:18-19 relates what happened:

Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, "Let no fruit grow on you ever again." Immediately the fig tree withered away.

Mark also records this story, providing more detail:

Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again." And His disciples heard it. (Mark 11:12-14)

Many readers of God's Word have found this incident to be very disturbing, and it has been a stumblingblock to more than a few. The idea that Jesus would become angry and curse this tree to wither and die—just because it had no figs at a time when figs were not even in season—seems completely unreasonable to a great many people.

But surely there is more to the story. The Jesus we know from the rest of the gospels is not One who, in a fit of temper, would do something so impulsive and cruel. He is the same Man who healed many people suffering from disease and demon possession throughout His ministry. He took little children in His arms and blessed them (Mark 10:16). He let the woman caught in adultery go with only a warning to repent (John 8:11). He wept at Lazarus' tomb (John 11:35) and grieved over Jerusalem's unwillingness to seek God's help (Matthew 23:37). He even asked God to forgive those who put Him to death (Luke 23:34)!

Do these examples portray a Man who would unjustly curse an insensate tree to death? Was Jesus' cursing of the fig tree an unreasonable act?

Over the years, we have come to learn that God put everything in the Bible for a purpose. We are to live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4). Nothing is there that has not been inspired! The apostle Paul writes in II Timothy 3:15-17:

[T]he Holy Scriptures . . . are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

In addition, as we saw, Jesus Christ was no egomaniacal, out-of-control hothead who went about "shooting from the hip" and speaking His mind whenever it pleased Him. He was thoughtful and caring, willing to help those who needed it, and even those who deserved justice He treated with mercy.

To the contrary, His purpose was not to please Himself but to follow God's will in every act and word. He says of Himself in John 6:38, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." He says something very similar in John 5:30, "I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me."

Therefore, we know what happened on the road from Bethany to Jerusalem was not a reaction from disappointment or anger, but it was apparently God's will for Him to curse the tree. God inspired it to be included in the Scriptures for our edification.

Before we progress any further, we need to address this question: Why would a fig tree fail to bear fruit? This gets to the heart of the matter of why Jesus thought it necessary to curse the tree, since both records of this incident give the tree's lack of fruit as the reason for Jesus' action against it.

A website called GardeningKnowHow.com features an article titled "Why a Fig Tree Is Not Producing Fruit" by Heather Rhoades. She provides several reasons:

The most common reason for a fig tree not producing fruit is simply its age. Trees, like animals, need to reach a certain maturity before they can produce offspring. Fruit is how a fig tree creates seeds. If the fig tree is not old enough to produce seeds, it will also not produce fruit.

Typically, a fig tree will not fruit until it reaches 2 years old, but it can take some trees as long as six years to reach the right maturity. . . .

Another common reason that a fig tree is not producing figs is because of too much nitrogen. This commonly happens when you are using a fertilizer that is too high in nitrogen. Nitrogen causes the plant to have lush growth in leaves and branches, but very little if any fruit. . . .

If a fig tree is suffering from water stress caused by either too little or too much water, this can cause it to stop producing figs or never start producing, if it is a younger tree. Water stress will send the tree into a survival mode and the fig tree will simply not have the energy needed to invest in making fruit. . . .

These are the most common reasons that fig trees will not make fig fruit. There are many other less common reasons that are mostly tied to the nutrients in the soil. (http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/fruit-gardening/fig-tree-is-producing-fruit.htm)

Even if the tree was suffering from one of these problems, why curse the fig tree? We can hardly fault the tree, since it was merely growing in accordance with the instructions God had placed in its DNA at creation.

Some Relevant Information

The various commentaries provide a wealth of additional information to help us better understand this event, as the Bible leaves out a great deal that its authors expected their contemporary readers to know. With many years and thousands of miles of geography between us and the area of Jerusalem in AD 31, it behooves us to seek out expert help in this matter. With these added pieces of information, we can understand that Jesus' cursing of the fig tree was reasonable and an example for us.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible explains that the tree that Jesus cursed was a peculiar fig tree among the many that could be found in the vicinity of the Mount of Olives. There were so many fig trees in that area that it was known as Bethpage—"House of Figs." This particular tree was unique because of the abundance of leaves—an indication of abundant fruit—but it had none. It was all show.

Adam Clarke's commentary on Mark 11:13 points out that the phrase "the time of figs was not yet" would be better translated to emphasize that the time for gathering figs had not yet come. Clarke cites a similar phrase in Psalm 1:3 as support. He also indicates that the climate in the area of Jerusalem was such that figs could be found throughout the year, especially in March and April, making it not unreasonable to expect to find fruit then. However, figs are not usually harvested until after Passover—all the more reason to expect to find some on this tree.

Clarke further contends that this fig tree was supposed to represent the state of the Jewish people—"that they professed the true religion and considered themselves the special people of God—but were only hypocrites having nothing of religion but the profession—an abundance of leaves but no fruit." Thus, he continues, "Jesus' cursing of the fig tree was intended as a warning of what was to come in the absence of repentance the total destruction and final ruin of the Jewish state at the hands of the Romans."

Clarke concludes that Jesus did not curse the fig tree out of resentment for disappointing Him by not having any fruit, but to emphasize to His disciples just how devastating God's wrath would be on the Jews, "who had now nearly filled up the measure of their iniquity." Further, it is an object lesson to everyone that God expects us to bear the fruit of righteousness, showing us the consequences of failing in that task.

Matthew Henry echoes this last lesson in his comment on Mark 11:13:

Christ was willing to make an example of it, not to the trees, but to the men, of that generation, and therefore cursed it with that curse which is the reverse of the first blessing, Be fruitful he said unto it, Never let any man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever!

These relevant facts inform us it was not a case that Jesus was annoyed and cursed the fig tree out of anger or disappointment as many have supposed. In fact, it was not an unreasonable act at all. No, the cursing of the fig tree turns out to be an act of God performed as a witness—like all the object lessons Jesus performed throughout His ministry. It was a stern warning to all who would fail to bear the fruit of righteousness, including—perhaps especially—us today!

The apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 10:11, "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come." Jesus was following this principle in giving us an illustration of His words in Matthew 7:19, "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (see also John 15:6). The cursing of the fig tree is a pointed exhortation from our Savior not to be found fruitless at His appearing because the dreaded Lake of Fire awaits those who taste of "the heavenly gift" of God and failing to grow, fall away (see Hebrews 6:4-6 Revelation 20:15 21:8).

Basil, a fourth-century theologian, wrote in part, "A tree is known by its fruit a man by his deeds. . . ." The deeds—the fruit—that God wants to see are the expressions of His Spirit working in us as we interact with others (Galatians 5:22-23). As Christ Himself instructs us, "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit so you will be My disciples" (John 15:8).

This is what the Christian life is all about: growing and producing fruit that glorifies God. Thanks to that fig tree on the way to Jerusalem, we have a vivid example to keep us on the straight and narrow path to the Kingdom of God.


Your fig tree doesn’t produce figs?

This question appears quite often, in our forum especially, and often leads many gardeners to despair when they don’t see any figs on their fig tree.

The fig tree is one of several fruit trees that require a long root development phase before figs appear.

There isn’t much to do about it: you must simply wait until your fig tree’s roots have developed enough.

  • Planting your trees well certainly helps speed root growth and brings fruit-bearing forward in time.
  • It is necessary to water your fig tree regularly over the first 2 years after planting.
  • Adding dehydrated manure at the foot of the fig tree in spring will give it the nutrients it needs for its growth.


Fig tree not bearing any fruit

Figs ripening on a 'Brown Turkey' tree. George Weigel

Q: My fig tree has not produced any fruit for the past two years. What should I do?

A: A few things can explain that. Most likely in our region is winter damage to the branches or winter kill of the fruiting buds.

Figs are borderline hardy in central Pa. We can get away with some of the cold-hardy types ('Chicago Hardy' and 'Brown Turkey,' for example), but others suffer dieback most winters and aren't reliable producers.

My fig didn't produce anything either this season, which surprised me a bit since we had an unusually mild winter. What I think happened is the same thing that caused even some hardier fruits to have a poor year. the early warm-up induced fruit buds to swell sooner than they should have, and then a later cold spell injured them. Buds that get too far along too soon are more susceptible to cold damage than buds that stay dormant until the coast is clear.

If that's the case, a "normal" winter might end up giving you fruit next year even if you do nothing. It's best to wrap figs around here in burlap or tarp "jackets" stuffed with leaves as insulation. Some people wrap them in blankets. That protects the wood from cold snaps since uncovered figs (even the hardy ones) probably will die back if temperatures get down around zero.

Beyond winter kill, a few other things can affect fig fruiting:

1.) Excess nitrogen. This can happen when figs are surrounded by lawn that's being fertilized with high-nitrogen products four or five times a year. You get fast growth and big, healthy leaves, but little to no fruit.

2.) Lack of pollination. Figs produce best when you've got two or more around to cross-pollinate. Some types are self-fruitful, but even they produce better with a partner nearby.

3.) Age. It can take a new fig 3 or 4 years to fruit for the first time. If yours is at least that old or has fruited already, this wouldn't be a likely reason.

4.) Lack of sun. How's the sun exposure? Figs are sun-lovers that need at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun a day to fruit well.

5.) Watering issues. Consistent moisture and well drained soil are ideal (like with most plants). It's possible to overdo it or underdo it with water. Fruit can drop in hot, dry, droughty conditions, but plants can also abort or fail to flower if the plants are in soggy soil.

If none of that checks out and you still get no fruit this year, try pinching back all of your branches to just above the fifth set of leaves. (Start at the base of a branch, count up five sets of leaves and then prune off the rest above that point.) Some growers say that not only encourages compact growth but induces better fruit production.

One other possibility is root-pruning. This involves going out about 2 feet from the trunk and severing the roots with a shovel every other shovel width apart. In other words, sever, skip a shovel width, then sever again, then skip, then sever, until you're the whole way around the plant. Do this at the end of winter.

Hope that helps because it's hard to beat the flavor of a fresh fig.


Watch the video: Does Pinching Fig Trees To Force Fruit Work? Yes! Heres Proof.


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