The Q&A Archives: brown turkey fig

Question: Winters in central New York can be rough sometimes. Would it be ok to keep the brown turkey fig in the pot that it came in, plant it as it came like that, and then for the winter, keep it in the garage? If yes, please explain further. If the answer is no, please explain other options for care during the winter.

Answer: You can keep the fig tree in the nursery pot for a few years, but eventually the roots will need more room. I'd plant it in the ground. Fig trees are hardy to about 10F (USDA zones 7-11). If subjected to colder temperatures, the tops of the trees will die back, but new sprouts will emerge from the roots in the spring. Just how much winter protection it will need depends on how bad of a winter you have and the microclimate it is in near you home. Around a home there are several different microclimates based on such factors as how close to the home they are, which compass direction from the home they are, whether the location is sunny or shady in winter, etc. Some gardeners will cut the roots on one side and lay the plant over where it can be more easily covered with leaves and a tarp for winter protection. A slightly less effective but much easier option is to cut the fig bush back to a more manageable height and place a ring of wire fencing around it. Then fill the ring with lots of leaves and cover the entire structure with a tarp to hold in the warmth of the earth. Simply wrapping the plant with some blankets will usually not provide enough protection, as it does not trap much heat to protect the tender fig buds and branches. Remove the tarp and leaves (leave some as a mulch around the tree) in spring when the danger of a freeze is past.

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