How & Why

Can a Fig Tree Be Espaliered?

A fruit tree is a prized possession for any gardener, but the best of them all is a fig tree. Fig trees are not only striking to look at with their gnarled trunks and long branches, but they also yield delicious fruit. A fig tree can be grown in most gardens or balconies and will thrive under a variety of growing conditions. There are a few things you should know before planting your new baby, though.

An espaliered fig tree is one that is trained to grow flat against a wall or support. This can be done by following these three steps:

1) Find a healthy, strong branch that could be trained as the main trunk of the fig tree. This should be about ninety centimeters long.
2) Tie this branch securely to an upright frame or wall with twine at both ends. The frame should keep it in place but not too tightly–you want some movement so it can adjust to environmental changes throughout the year.
3) Tie all other branches out diagonally from this one, about ten centimeters apart from each other, so they are touching but not crossing over each other

The trunk of a fig tree is generally thick and gnarled, but it is also a very sturdy support for your espaliered fig tree. It is good to remember that the plant will grow into whatever it has been trained to grow into, so if you want branches on the tree that are not in the formation of your espalier, then please do not tie them down too early in the espalier process. This will result in branches crossing over each other and interfering with each other’s growth patterns.

Fig trees are notoriously suckers, so they should be planted as close as possible to the house. If space permits, then trellises or cages can be used to hang these suckers off of the house for better access and easier picking of fruit.