The Q&A Archives: Winter Protection for Fig Tree

Question: I just purchased a brown turkey fig that I intend keep in a container and to bring inside during the winter. I live in NorthWestern CT which gets pretty chilly.

Is it better to keep it in an unheated garage -- which can get into the 20's (it's mostly underground) -- and let the tree go dormant -- or should I keep it in a heated garage with a window with some light -- and keep it alive over the winter?


Answer: Fig trees are deciduous and will lose their leaves in the fall. Rather than try to keep it indoors in a container, I would 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 has passed.

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