What to Plant Under a Fig Tree: A Complete Companion Planting Guide

Paul West/ Backyard Gardening

Have you ever wondered what to plant under a fig tree to make the most of the space? Fig trees provide ample shade and shelter for a variety of companion plants. With some planning, you can create a productive garden ecosystem with your fig tree at the center.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the benefits of companion planting with fig trees and give you plenty of suggestions for what to plant. Let’s take a deep dive into interplanting with fig trees for a bountiful and low maintenance garden.

Key Takeaways

  • Companion planting with fig trees offers benefits like added shade, enriched soil, and pollinator attraction.
  • Focus on shade-tolerant herbs, vegetables, and flowers that thrive in moderate moisture.
  • Avoid water-loving plants, heavy feeders, and aggressive plants that could overwhelm fig roots.
  • Plant, water, fertilize, and prune companion plants separately from the fig for best results.
  • Troubleshoot issues like dry soil, pests, and competition carefully to create an ideal fig tree guild.

An Introduction to Companion Planting with Fig Trees

Companion planting is the practice of strategically placing plants together in a way that benefits one or more of the plants. Certain plants, like fig trees, lend themselves well to this technique. Their expansive canopies and deep root systems create an ideal microclimate for shade-loving, moisture-loving plants.

Planting companion plants under fig trees offers numerous advantages. The fig tree’s shade helps keep companion plants cool and protects them from scorching sun. Fig trees also enrich the soil as their leaves decompose; this benefits more delicate companion plants. Finally, the right companion plants can attract pollinators which in turn help fertilize the fig tree’s fruit.

However, companion planting under a fig does require some planning. You’ll need to choose plants adapted to partial shade and moderate moisture. Consider the fig tree’s spreading roots and avoid companions that need intensive watering or fertilizing. With the right selections, your fig can coexist beautifully with other plants.

Understanding Fig Trees: Growth Habits and Needs

what to plant under a fig tree - close of a healthy tree.

Before choosing companion plants, let’s look at some key facts about fig trees and how they impact their surroundings:

  • Fig trees can grow 15-30 feet tall and wide. They provide dense shade under their canopies.

  • Their expansive root systems tend to be shallow but spread widely. Companion plant roots may compete for water.

  • Fig trees need full sun but companions can thrive in partial shade under the canopy.

  • Dropping fig leaves add organic matter and nutrients to the soil. Composting leaves further enhances this.

  • Fig trees host the fig wasp which is essential for pollination. Companions should attract, not repel, pollinators.

  • Figs can cope with dry conditions but companion plants may need extra watering. Prioritize drought-tolerant companions.

By keeping these key traits in mind, you can pick companion plants well suited for coexisting with fig trees. Next let’s look at some excellent options.

The Best Plants to Grow Under Fig Trees

Here are some of the very best choices for companion planting under fig trees:


  • Chives – Shade and moisture tolerant. Attracts pollinators.

  • Oregano – Likes partial shade and drier conditions. Repels pests.

  • Thyme – Drought resistant and likes reflected heat.

  • Lavender – Tolerates partial shade and is highly aromatic. Attracts pollinators.

  • Mint – Thrives in shade and spreads aggressively, so contain it.

  • Chamomile – Likes partial shade. Flowers attract pollinators.


  • Lettuce – Grows well in moderate shade. Many varieties available.

  • Kale – Very shade tolerant and grows well under figs.

  • Beets – Tolerate partial shade. Don’t compete strongly with fig roots.

  • Carrots – Do well in lighter shade. Loose soil is a must.

  • Radishes – Fast growing and shade tolerant. Use as a rotating crop.


  • Impatiens – Shade-loving annuals with colorful blooms to attract pollinators.

  • Coleus – Tolerant of shade and dry soil. Provide vivid color under the canopy.

  • Begonias – Grow well in shade and add bright flowers.

  • Nicotiana – Fragrant, pollinator-friendly flowers grow happily in partial shade.

  • Fuchsia – Beautiful hanging flowers thrive with filtered light.

Other Companions

  • Strawberries – Produce sweet berries in dappled shade. Watch for birds!

  • Blueberries – Prefer acidic soil but appreciate the shade and shelter.

  • Comfrey – Deep roots accumulate nutrients, and flowers feed bees. Limit spread.

  • Marigolds – Pretty flowers repel pests like nematodes. Don’t overwhelm fig roots.Marigold flowers repel nematodes from fig trees

What Not to Plant Under Fig Trees

Some plants are poorly suited for growing under fig trees:

  • Water-loving plants – Requires too much irrigation for fig tree roots. Try hydrangeas, azaleas.

  • Small bulbs – Can’t compete with fig roots. Try daffodils, crocuses.

  • Sun lovers – Won’t flourish without full sun. Try tomatoes, peppers, eggplant.

  • Heavy feeders – Deplete soil nutrients too quickly. Try corn, broccoli, cabbage.

  • Invasive plants – Could overtake garden space. Try ivy, bamboo, mint (unless contained).

  • Alliums – Strong scents may repel fig pollinators. Try onions, leeks, garlic.

Take care to avoid these companions and select plants adapted to the fig tree’s specific growing conditions for the best results.

How to Plant, Water, and Care for Companion Plants

Here is a simple step-by-step guide for installing companion plants with your fig tree:

  • First remove any grass or weeds from the planting area under the fig canopy. Loosen the top 6 inches of soil.

  • Amend the soil with 2-3 inches of aged compost or manure if needed to improve drainage and nutrients.

  • Select plants suited for partial shade and that will not compete heavily with fig tree roots or nutritional needs.

  • Plant seeds or young starts, giving them 12-24 inches of space depending on mature size. Avoid planting right next to the fig trunk.

  • Add mulch like wood chips to help retain moisture and reduce weeds. Leave space around plant stems.

  • Water companion plants 1-2 inches per week, aiming to keep the soil moist but not saturated.

  • Fertilize lightly with an organic fertilizer, focusing primarily on the companion plants.

  • Prune fig branches as needed to allow ideal light levels for the companions.

  • Weed and re-mulch periodically to keep the planting area tidy and soil healthy.

By following these simple gardening practices, your fig tree and companion plants should coexist beautifully! Monitor their progress and make adjustments as needed.

Common Challenges and Solutions for Companion Planting

Companion planting under fig trees is certainly worthwhile, but you may encounter a few potential challenges:

  • Dry soil – Apply mulch and water companion plants separately from the fig to keep soil moist. Choose drought-tolerant varieties.

  • Shallow fig roots – Avoid companions with deep taproots that compete for water. Favor shallow-rooted plants.

  • Too much shade – If plants seem stunted, carefully prune back fig branches to allow in more light.

  • Nutrient competition – Fertilize companion plants to prevent nutrient deficiencies, focusing on organic options.

  • Insect pests – Introduce predatory insects or use organic sprays like neem oil to control pests on companions.

  • Weeds – Use mulch and regular weeding to reduce competition from aggressive weeds under the fig canopy.

With attentive care and preventative practices, you can avoid most issues and create an ideal growing environment for all. Be proactive and enjoy the diverse bounty from your fig tree guild!

That’s It!: Reap the Benefits of Companion Planting

As you can see, planting companion plants under fig trees has tremendous potential benefits, from increased productivity to enhanced soil health. With the recommendations here, you can confidently select companion plants and cultivate a thriving fig tree guild.

Turn your fig canopy into a nurturing plant community this season. The symbiotic relationships will yield delicious fruit, herbs, vegetables, and flowers for years to come. Achieving this bounty does require knowledge and attentive care, but the results are well worth it. Use this guide to get growing and enjoy the diverse bounty from your own fig tree guild!


What are the best companion plants for figs?

Some of the best companion plants for figs include strawberry, marigold, rue, comfrey, sage, rosemary, chamomile, lavender, and potted fig. These plants can enhance the growth and overall health of your fig tree.

Can I plant other fruit trees near my fig tree?

Yes, you can plant other fruit trees near your fig tree. However, it is important to consider the space requirements and potential competition for nutrients. It’s best to choose fruit trees with shallow root systems to avoid interfering with the fig tree’s root system.

Which flowering plants can I grow under a fig tree?

Many flowering plants can thrive under a fig tree, including marigold, lavender, chamomile, and rosemary. These plants not only add beauty to your garden but also attract beneficial insects that can help control pests.

Can I plant strawberries under a fig tree?

Yes, strawberries can be a good companion plant for fig trees. They are easy to grow, have shallow root systems, and can help inhibit the growth of weeds. Additionally, strawberries produce bright yellow flowers that can add color to your garden.

Are there any plants I should avoid planting near a fig tree?

While fig trees tend to be tolerant of many plants, it is best to avoid planting nightshade plants, as they may inhibit the growth of the fig tree. Additionally, plants with aggressive root systems, such as bamboo or aggressive ground covers, should also be avoided to prevent competition for resources.

What are the benefits of companion plants for fig trees?

Companion plants for fig trees can provide several benefits. They can attract beneficial insects that help control pests, enhance the soil by adding nutrients, suppress weed growth, and create a more visually appealing garden.

Can I plant herbs like sage and rosemary near my fig tree?

Yes, herbs like sage and rosemary are great companion plants for fig trees. They not only complement each other in terms of growth habit and aesthetics but can also help repel certain pests with their aromatic properties.

Do companions need to have shallow root systems?

While it is not necessary for all companion plants to have shallow root systems, it is preferable to choose plants with shallow roots to prevent competition with the fig tree’s roots for nutrients and water. This can help both the fig tree and its companion plants thrive.

Should I plant flowers with yellow blooms nearby?

Planting flowers with yellow blooms, such as marigolds and chamomile, near your fig tree can be beneficial. The bright yellow flowers attract beneficial insects like butterflies, which can help with pollination and pest control in your garden.

What should I plant around the base of the fig tree?

You can plant many different plants around the base of the fig tree, including ground covers, herbs, and flowering plants. Just make sure to choose plants that are compatible with the fig tree’s growth requirements and avoid aggressive species that may compete with the fig tree for resources.

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Paul West
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About Paul West

Longstanding and passionate about really having family fun in the backyard. I'm no expert but I've picked up a thing or two along the way!