Figwort (Ficus religiosa) is a flowering evergreen shrub or small tree native to tropical regions of Asia, Africa and Australia. It grows up to 30 feet tall with a spread of 8 feet. Its leaves are opposite, oblong-obtuse and alternate from 2 to 4 inches long. They are dark green above and light green beneath. The flowers appear in early summer and last until autumn. The fruit is a white seed pod that contains numerous seeds, which germinate when exposed to moisture.
The name “fig” comes from the Latin word ficare meaning “to turn.” Figwort’s common names include fig tree, fig tree, fig-tree, fig-leaf tree and fig leaf tree.
The genus Ficus includes over 100 species. Figwort is one of the most popular ornamental trees in gardens because it produces large, fragrant flowers that attract bees and butterflies. These flowers produce a sweet fragrance and are often used in perfumes.
It is easy to grow figwort at home if you have access to good soil with plenty of organic matter such as composted manure, peat moss or other types of organic material. This type of soil will provide the best setting for your figwort to thrive.
If you cannot find this type of soil, you can also add organic matter to your existing soil.
Propagating figwort from cuttings is a fairly easy task. Cuttings taken in late spring or early summer will root quickly during the warm days of summer.
Cut 4- to 6-inch lengths of figwort. Then dip the cut end in a rooting hormone then place the cuttings in a clear plastic bag. Place the bag in a warm location such as on top of a water heater or in a sunny window. Make sure the cuttings do not get wet. Check the cuttings daily during the first week after you make the cuttings for moisture by squeezing them. If the cuttings are soft and squishy, they need water. If they are firm, they do not need water. After a week or so remove the plastic bag. It should be enough to keep the cuttings moist. When new growth appears, transplant the figwort into your garden or a larger container.
You can also grow figwort from seed. Sow the seeds in containers indoors in late winter or early spring for transplanting in the garden later.
Sow the seeds on the surface of a peaty soil or seedling mix. Keep the seeds moist and place them in a plastic bag until they germinate. At transplanting time, harden off the seedlings for a week or so before placing them in their permanent spot in your garden.
Figwort grows best in full sun to partial shade. It is a tough plant that can adapt to many soil types, including sand and clay.
It can grow on rocky hillsides and in dry soils, but it prefers rich, well-draining soil and needs consistent moisture, but not soggy soil. Water regularly during dry periods.
Despite its name, figwort does not make good fodder for livestock. The figs are mildly toxic when eaten in large quantities.
Figwort is an attractive ornamental plant for your garden and can be grown easily from cuttings or seed.
Figwort plants are susceptible to a variety of diseases. Use disease-free plants when propagating new figworts or buying them at nurseries and garden centers.
These plants can be browsed by deer and rabbits, so placing a deer-proof fence around them might be a good idea.