Best Fertilizer For Fig Trees In Pots: 9 Top Picks

by Guerrilla Homesteader

In my 20+ years of growing fig trees in various locations of the arizona desert, I’ve learned some things about these wonderful food producing trees! These include the fertilizers that can be used to keep them healthy, the wonderful tasting fruit that they produce, and how easy it is to propagate them! But this post will be addressing my 9 top picks of fertilizers for fig trees in pots and in the ground.

Container fig trees require a bit more TLC when it comes to fertilization compared to their counterparts planted in the ground. Since they have a limited root system and can’t tap into the nutrients present in the surrounding soil as easily, they rely on us to provide them with the necessary nourishment.

On top of that, the soil in containers tends to get exhausted more rapidly than the soil in gardens or fields. So, to keep our container fig trees happy and flourishing, we need to up the ante on fertilization.

That means more frequent fertilizing sessions and using slightly higher amounts of fertilizer to ensure they have a steady supply of the nutrients they crave for their growth and overall well-being.

my backyard fig tree
One of my fig trees shown above. I had pruned it down to it’s 5″ diameter trunk a year and a half ago as it was not doing well when we moved in. All of the growth you see here happened during that time. It’s doing well now! If I can keep the neighbors horses from munching on the top all will be good! So far so good.

For those who want to get right to the answer of which fertilizer to use for figs in pots, here It Is!

Best Fertilizer For Fig Trees In Pots: 9 Top Picks

  1. Balanced NPK Fertilizer: A balanced fertilizer with an equal or near-equal ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) is suitable for overall fig tree health. Look for a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of around 10-10-10 or 14-14-14. In granular form, I like this one by Southern Agriculture.
  2. Slow-Release Fertilizer: Slow-release fertilizers provide a steady supply of nutrients over an extended period. They help maintain consistent growth and minimize the risk of nutrient leaching. Look for a slow-release fertilizer specifically formulated for fruit trees or woody plants. I like this one by Osmocote.
  3. Organic Compost: Adding organic compost to the soil around your fig tree improves soil fertility, enhances nutrient availability, and promotes healthy root development. Compost enriches the soil with essential nutrients, improves soil structure, and supports beneficial microbial activity. Check out this one by Fishnure.
  4. Bone Meal: Bone meal is a natural fertilizer rich in phosphorus, which supports root development and fruit production. Applying bone meal around the base of the fig tree during the growing season can boost its overall health and vitality. I like this one by Espoma.
  5. Fish Emulsion: Fish emulsion is a liquid fertilizer made from fish waste. It is a rich source of nitrogen, which promotes leafy growth. Dilute fish emulsion according to the manufacturer’s instructions and use it as a foliar spray or apply it to the soil around the tree. A great fish emulsion by Neptune’s Harvest.
  6. Seaweed Extract: Seaweed extract is a natural fertilizer that provides a wide range of trace minerals, growth hormones, and beneficial microorganisms. It enhances the tree’s resilience, strengthens its immune system, and improves overall vigor. In powdered form and makes 128 gallons! An awesome deal by Marine Magic!
  7. Epsom Salt: Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, and it can help prevent magnesium deficiency in fig trees. Magnesium is crucial for chlorophyll production, which is essential for photosynthesis. Apply Epsom salt by dissolving it in water and watering the tree with the solution. A pure Epsom Salt with no scent added by Epsoak.
  8. Mycorrhizal Fungi: Mycorrhizal fungi form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots and enhance nutrient uptake. Using mycorrhizal inoculants during planting or applying them to the soil can improve nutrient absorption, increase drought tolerance, and enhance disease resistance in fig trees. This is a good one- Espoma Organic Bio-Tone Starter Plus with Both Endo & Ecto Mycorrhizae.
  9. Vermicompost: Vermicompost, also known as worm castings, is a nutrient-rich organic fertilizer produced by earthworms. It improves soil structure, increases microbial activity, and provides a balanced range of nutrients. Apply vermicompost as a top dressing around the tree’s root zone. Wiggle Worm 100% Pure Organic Worm Castings.

Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates and frequency when using fertilizers. It’s also important to consider the specific nutrient requirements of your fig tree and monitor the soil’s nutrient levels through regular soil testing to ensure optimal fertilization and prevent nutrient imbalances.

Do This NOW To Turbocharge Your Container Garden!

For further information regarding this topic please continue reading below.

Unveiling the Benefits of Fertilizer: A Comprehensive Guide for Gardeners

As gardeners, we strive to create a vibrant and flourishing garden, and fertilizer plays a key role in achieving that goal. Fertilizers supply essential nutrients to plants, stimulating healthy growth and robust yields.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the benefits of fertilizers, covering topics such as the importance of early spring fertilization, selecting the best fertilizer for your needs, the advantages of slow-release and liquid fertilizers, the significance of organic options and organic materials to name just a few.

Also important are optimal timing for application, the role of the NPK ratio, understanding soil type and organic matter, considerations for late spring and early summer. Also important are dormant seasons, the use of granular fertilizers, soil testing, nitrogen management, the impact of water and native soil, and the role of mycorrhizal fungi.

We’ll also consider sunlight requirements, nutrient-rich soil, maximizing results, well-drained soil, considerations for early fall, sandy soils, using less fertilizer, organic mulch, compost, soil pH, the drawbacks of synthetic fertilizers, the risk of fungal diseases, and soil fertility. Let’s dive into the details!

figs on the branch

The Perfect Time To Start Fertilization: Early Spring

Early spring marks the awakening of plants from their winter slumber, making it an opportune time for fertilization. By providing essential nutrients during this period, you can stimulate new growth and set the stage for a successful growing season. Fertilizing early in spring helps plants establish a strong foundation, promoting healthy foliage, root development, and overall vigor.

How To Choose the Best Fertilizer

Selecting the best fertilizer for your garden can be overwhelming with the numerous options available. Consider factors such as plant type, nutrient requirements, and soil conditions. Slow-release fertilizers are often recommended as they provide a steady supply of nutrients over an extended period. Liquid fertilizers, on the other hand, offer quick absorption and are ideal for foliar feeding. A soil test can help you determine which types of fertilizer or fertilizers your soil may need.

figs on the tree

The Advantages of Slow-Release and Liquid Fertilizers

Slow-release fertilizers are a good idea as they gradually release nutrients, preventing nutrient leaching and ensuring a constant supply for plant uptake. This promotes even growth and reduces the frequency of fertilizer applications. Liquid fertilizers, being easily absorbed by plants, offer a rapid nutrient boost and are particularly useful for addressing nutrient deficiencies or providing a quick energy boost for new growth.

Embracing Organic Fertilizers and Materials

Organic fertilizers are gaining popularity due to their numerous benefits. Derived from natural sources like compost, manure, and organic materials, they enrich the soil with essential nutrients and improve soil structure. Organic fertilizers support sustainable gardening practices, reduce the risk of chemical build-up, and promote long-term soil fertility. I personally have chickens and fortunately I have an unlimited supply of chicken manure and every plant and tree I have benefits from the organic nitrogen blast including my fig trees.

figs on the tree

Timing is Key: Understanding the Best Time for Fertilization

Knowing the best time to apply fertilizer is crucial for optimal plant growth. For most plants, early spring is the ideal time to kick-start their growth. However, different plants have varying nutrient requirements and growth cycles. Consider factors like the dormant season, late spring, early summer, and early fall to align your fertilization schedule with the specific needs of your plants. I prefer to fertilize my figs three times per year during the growing season.

The NPK Ratio: Unlocking the Nutrient Code

The NPK ratio represents the proportion of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in a fertilizer. Understanding this ratio is essential for providing plants with the right balance of nutrients. Nitrogen promotes leaf and stem growth, phosphorus supports root development and flower production, while potassium enhances overall plant health and disease resistance. Different plants and trees will benefit from various NPK numbers.

Here’s a general guideline to help you select the appropriate NPK fertilizer for different types of plants and trees:

  1. Nitrogen-Loving Plants: Plants that primarily require nitrogen for lush foliage and green growth, such as leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach) or lawn grass, benefit from a fertilizer with a higher nitrogen content. Look for a fertilizer with a higher N value, such as a 20-10-10 or 24-6-12 ratio.
  2. Flowering and Fruiting Plants: Plants that focus on flowering and fruit production, like roses, tomatoes, or fruit trees, require a balanced fertilizer that promotes both foliage growth and flower/fruit development. Opt for a fertilizer with a more balanced NPK ratio, such as a 10-10-10 or 14-14-14 formulation.
  3. Root Development and Transplants: When establishing new plants or transplanting them, it’s important to promote healthy root development. Look for a fertilizer with a higher phosphorus content (P), which supports root growth. Consider a formulation like 5-10-5 or 10-20-10 to encourage strong root systems.
  4. Established Trees and Shrubs: Mature trees and shrubs benefit from a well-balanced fertilizer that provides overall plant health and vigor. A ratio of 10-10-10 or 14-14-14 is generally suitable for established landscape plants.
  5. Acid-Loving Plants: Some plants, like azaleas, rhododendrons, or blueberries, thrive in acidic soil conditions. For these acid-loving plants, choose a specialized fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants, with an NPK ratio tailored to their specific needs.
  6. Organic and Slow-Release Options: If you prefer organic gardening or want longer-lasting nutrient release, consider organic fertilizers or slow-release formulations. These options provide a gradual and sustained nutrient supply for plants, reducing the risk of nutrient leaching and ensuring steady growth.

Remember that these are general guidelines, and specific plant varieties may have unique nutrient requirements. It’s always beneficial to conduct a soil test to understand the specific nutrient deficiencies and pH levels in your soil. This information will help you choose the most suitable fertilizer and tailor your fertilization program to meet the specific needs of your plants and trees.

big purple fig on tree

Soil Type and Organic Matter: Foundations for Success

Soil type influences nutrient availability and plant health. Conducting a soil test can provide valuable insights into its pH, nutrient content, and structure. Different plants thrive in different soil types, such as sandy or loamy soil. Adding organic matter, such as compost or organic mulch, improves soil fertility, moisture retention, and microbial activity.

The Role of Granular Fertilizers and Soil Testing

Granular fertilizers are a popular choice due to their ease of use and controlled release. When applying granular fertilizers, consider the specific needs of your plants and distribute them evenly within the root zone. A soil test can guide you in understanding your soil’s nutrient deficiencies and pH levels, enabling you to select the appropriate fertilizer formulation.

Managing Nitrogen and Water

Nitrogen is a vital nutrient for plant growth, but too much of it can lead to excessive foliage at the expense of flowers and fruits. Carefully follow recommended nitrogen application rates to avoid nutrient imbalances. Additionally, water management is crucial as both insufficient and excessive watering can impact nutrient availability and plant health. Find the right balance to ensure optimal growth.

Harnessing the Power of Mycorrhizal Fungi

Mycorrhizal fungi form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots, enhancing nutrient uptake and improving overall plant health. These beneficial fungi expand the root’s reach, allowing plants to access nutrients that may be otherwise inaccessible. Utilizing mycorrhizal inoculants can significantly benefit plants, especially in nutrient-poor soils.

Sunlight Requirements and Nutrient-Rich Soil

Understanding your plants’ sunlight requirements is crucial for successful growth. While some plants thrive in full sun, others prefer partial shade. Additionally, nutrient-rich soil provides a fertile environment for plants to thrive. Regularly enrich the soil with organic matter and fertilizers to ensure a continuous supply of essential nutrients. I recommend 10 hours of full sunlight for robust fruit development and not less than 8 hours of full sunlight for fig trees

Maximizing Results with Well-Drained Soil and Early Fall Application Of Fertilizer

Well-drained soil is essential for healthy root development. Poorly drained soil can lead to waterlogged roots and nutrient deficiencies. Ensure proper drainage by amending the soil with organic matter and avoiding overwatering. Furthermore, early fall fertilization supports root growth, providing plants with essential nutrients to withstand winter and emerge stronger in the following spring.

Sandy Soils: Special Considerations for Fertilization

Sandy soils are notorious for their low nutrient-holding capacity. This means that essential nutrients can leach quickly from the soil, requiring more frequent fertilization. Choose slow-release or organic fertilizers that gradually release nutrients over time to ensure plants receive a steady supply.

Using Less Fertilizer: The Role of Organic Mulch and Compost

To reduce fertilizer usage, incorporate organic mulch around plants. Mulch helps conserve moisture, suppresses weeds, and gradually releases nutrients as it decomposes. Additionally, regular application of organic compost improves soil fertility, enhances nutrient availability, and reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Soil pH: Finding the Optimal Balance

Soil pH affects nutrient availability to plants. Conducting a soil test can help determine your soil’s pH level. Most plants prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH range. Adjusting soil pH through amendments or selecting suitable plants for your soil’s natural pH level ensures optimal nutrient uptake and plant health.

Synthetic Fertilizers: Drawbacks and Environmental Concerns

Synthetic fertilizers offer quick and concentrated nutrient delivery. However, their excessive use can lead to environmental pollution, including water contamination and harmful algae blooms. It is important to follow recommended application rates and explore organic alternatives whenever possible to promote sustainable gardening practices.

Guarding Against Fungal Diseases and Promoting Soil Fertility

Over-fertilization, especially with nitrogen-rich fertilizers, can create an imbalance that favors the development of fungal diseases. Excessive nitrogen promotes lush foliage growth, creating a damp environment ideal for fungal pathogens. To prevent fungal diseases, maintain proper plant spacing, provide adequate airflow, and adhere to recommended fertilization practices. Building soil fertility through organic matter and proper nutrient management creates a balanced and resilient ecosystem that supports plant health.

The Final Takeaway

Fertilizers are invaluable tools in nurturing healthy and thriving gardens. By understanding the benefits of early spring fertilization, selecting the right fertilizer type (such as slow-release or liquid), embracing organic options, considering soil type and organic matter, timing applications effectively, and addressing specific challenges in late spring, early summer, and early fall, you can provide plants with the essential nutrients they need to flourish.

Remember to strike a balance in nutrient management, optimize sunlight exposure, and promote healthy root development through well-drained soil and beneficial mycorrhizal fungi. With proper fertilization practices, you can cultivate nutrient-rich soil, maximize plant growth, and create a sustainable garden that delights your senses season after season.

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