Desert King Fig Tree: Planting Tips, Care Guide and More

Picture a tree that not only brings shade and aesthetic appeal to your garden, but also provides a plentiful harvest of delectable and succulent fruits. The Desert King fig tree is an extraordinary example of this.

The Desert King fig tree is known for its reliable, abundant fruit production, making it a fantastic choice for home gardeners. Desert King figs are renowned for their unique, sweet flavor and succulent texture. They are large, green-skinned fruits that reveal a strawberry-red interior when ripe.

This tree is a favorite for its hardiness, low maintenance needs, and of course, its delectable fruits, but getting the most out of this fig tree requires providing proper care.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the tree and what’s needed to keep it healthy and productive.

Key Takeaways

  • The Desert King fig tree is a hardy and adaptable tree that produces large, sweet figs.
  • It grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9 and prefers full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil.
  • Regular care, including watering, mulching, fertilizing, and pruning, can help ensure a healthy tree and a bountiful harvest.
  • The tree is relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but regular inspection and early intervention can help keep potential issues at bay.

You can’t go wrong with a Desert King fig tree, but why limit your choices? Learn all about the most popular fig tree options in my comprehensive article Best Fig Tree Varieties.

Desert King Fig Tree

The Desert King fig tree, a variety native to the Mediterranean region, is a popular choice for gardens in various climates due to its resilience and adaptability.

It’s a tree that offers beauty, shade, and a bountiful harvest of delicious figs. Here’s a quick overview of its key characteristics:

Botanical NameFicus carica ‘Desert King’
Grow Zones5-9
Mature Height15-30 feet
Mature Width15-30 feet
Growth RateMedium
Light PreferencesFull sun to partial shade
Ideal SoilWell-drained, fertile soil
Watering NeedsModerate
Years to Bear2-4 years
Fruit SizeLarge
Fruit TasteSweet with a hint of strawberry flavor

General Appearance

The Desert King fig tree is a deciduous tree with a robust and spreading habit. It has large, deeply lobed leaves that provide a lush, tropical feel.

The bark is smooth and gray, adding to its aesthetic appeal. The tree produces large, green fruits that turn yellowish-green when ripe.

Growth Rate & Mature Size

The Desert King fig tree grows at a medium rate with mature trees reaching heights and widths of 15 to 30 feet.

It’s a perfect size for most home gardens, providing ample shade without overwhelming the landscape.

Fruits

The fruits of the Desert King fig tree are one of its most appealing features. They are large, typically about 2-3 inches in diameter, and have beautiful green skin that turns yellowish-green as they ripen.

The interior of the fruit is a striking strawberry-red color, and it’s here that the fig’s sweet, delectable flavor resides.

Desert King Fig Taste

The taste of a Desert King fig is truly something to savor. It’s sweet with a hint of strawberry flavor that makes it stand out from other fig varieties.

The texture is pleasantly chewy and succulent, providing a satisfying bite whether you’re enjoying the figs fresh or in your favorite recipes.

Desert King Fig Tree Growing Conditions

The Desert King fig tree is a versatile and resilient tree that can adapt to a variety of growing conditions.

However, like any plant, it has its preferences that, when met, can lead to optimal growth and fruit production.

Grow Zones

The Desert King fig tree is suitable for USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9. This means it can tolerate winter temperatures down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Its adaptability makes it a great choice for gardens in a wide range of climates, from the cooler northern regions to the warmer southern areas.

Sun Requirements

This fig tree prefers full sun to partial shade. A location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day is ideal.

Adequate sunlight exposure is crucial for the tree’s growth and fruit production, but if you live in an area with extremely hot summers, some afternoon shade can be beneficial.

Soil Preferences

The Desert King fig tree can grow in sandy, loamy, or clay soils as long as they drain readily.

The tree prefers a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.5, which is slightly acidic to neutral. It also appreciates fertile soil rich in organic matter.

Planting Tips

When planting your Desert King fig tree, choose a location that gets plenty of sun and has well-draining soil.

Dig a hole twice as wide and just as deep as the root ball. Place the tree in the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the ground surface.

Backfill the hole with amended soil, firm it gently, and water thoroughly.

Desert King Fig Tree Care

Caring for a Desert King fig tree involves several key aspects, including watering, mulching, fertilizing, pruning, and harvesting.

While this tree is relatively low in maintenance requirements, providing it with the right care can significantly enhance its growth, health, and fruit production.

Watering

Watering is crucial, especially during the tree’s first few years and during dry periods.

While the Desert King fig tree is tolerant of occasional dry conditions once established, it will produce the best fruit with consistent watering.

The soil should be kept moderately moist but not saturated. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other problems.

Water deeply once a week during dry periods, adjusting as necessary based on rainfall and soil moisture levels.

Mulching

Mulching serves multiple purposes. It helps conserve soil moisture, suppresses weed growth, and as it decomposes, it enriches the soil with organic matter.

Apply a 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or compost, around the base of the tree, keeping it a few inches away from the trunk to prevent rot.

Refresh the mulch layer annually or as needed.

Fertilization

Fig trees typically do not require heavy fertilization, but applying a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring can give your Desert King fig tree a nutritional boost for the growing season.

A fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 is usually sufficient (I use this organic blend). Follow the package instructions for the correct application rate.

Additionally, incorporating organic matter like compost into the soil can improve the soil’s fertility and structure.

Pruning

Pruning is an essential part of fig tree care. It helps maintain the tree’s size, shape, and health and can enhance fruit production.

Prune your Desert King fig tree in late winter or early spring when the tree is dormant. Remove any dead, diseased, damaged, or crossing branches.

Also, thin out some of the inner branches to improve air circulation and sunlight penetration.

Remember to make clean, angled cuts and sterilize your pruning tools before, during, and after use to prevent the spread of diseases.

Harvesting

Harvesting figs at the right time is key to enjoying their best flavor. Desert King figs are typically ready for harvest in late summer.

Ripe figs are slightly soft to the touch, have a sweet, fragrant smell, and may droop slightly on their stems.

To harvest, simply twist the ripe figs off the tree or cut them off with a pair of pruners. Handle them gently to avoid bruising.

Pests & Diseases

The Desert King fig tree is relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but it’s not immune.

Common pests include aphids, beetles, and nematodes. Regular inspection of your tree can help you spot and address these issues early.

If you notice small, discolored, or deformed leaves, it could be a sign of aphids. Fig beetles can be identified by their shiny green bodies and their attraction to ripe figs.

Common diseases include fig rust, which presents as small orange spots on the leaves, fig mosaic virus, which leads to mottled and yellowing leaves, and root rot, which is usually caused by overwatering.

If you notice any signs of disease, it’s important to act quickly. Remove and dispose of any infected plant material, and adjust your care practices as necessary.

In severe cases, you may need to use a fungicide or other treatment.

Companion Plants

Companion planting can be beneficial for the Desert King fig tree. Plants that work well with fig trees include comfrey, mint, and thyme.

These plants help attract beneficial insects and can also enhance the aesthetic appeal of your garden.

They also have similar sunlight and soil requirements, making them easy to incorporate into your fig tree’s planting area.

Other ideas include:

  • Marigolds
  • Strawberries
  • Nasturtiums
  • Sweet Williams
  • Daisies

Where To Buy

You can purchase Desert King fig trees from garden centers and local nurseries, but they may not always be available.

Online nurseries are a great choice if you can’t find a Desert King locally. Here are a few reputable suppliers:

Final Thoughts

The Desert King fig tree is a wonderful addition to any garden. It’s a tree that offers beauty, shade, and a bountiful harvest of delicious figs.

With the right care and conditions, you can enjoy the rewards of this remarkable tree for many years to come.

Still not quite sure if the Desert King is the one for you? There are lots of other varieties to explore. Learn about these productive, easy-care options next: