The fig is a deciduous tree native to Southwest Asia, which can reach 50' tall in the wild. However, in South Florida it grows as a shrub seldom taller than 15'. The leaves are large, lobed and extremely handsome, with a rich velvety green coloration. The fruits, which generally ripen sometime in summer, are unique structures that are actually a collection of small flowers turned inside out ("invagination"). They form a closed structure that is pollinated by a tiny wasp, which burrows into the structure, fertilizes the flowers (which then ripen into the edible fig fruit) and then dies. 'Brown Turkey' is a very cold-hardy variety that features handsome brownish-purple fruits.
The fig is adapted to dry, Mediterranean-type climates, such as California that experience hot, dry summers, cool wet winters, and cool nighttime temperatures. Although the plants will grow in South Florida, the humid growing season is associated with enhanced insect and disease pressure, and heavy summer rains will cause fruit to split. South Florida also lacks sufficient winter chill to cause heavy fruit set.
Nevertheless, figs can be grown in South Florida with marginal success. Give them full sun and an extremely well-drained soil. They are very drought-tolerant and need no supplemental irrigation, especially during Florida's wet summers. They are also well adapted to container culture, which will give them the dry airy soil conditions that they appreciate.
THE WILD PAPAYA…
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