The Q&A Archives: Peter's Honey Fig Tree

Question: Birds are eating the ripest fruit. How can I deter them? Also, the tree has produced many figs but as the weather is getting cooler, most will not be good to consume. Is there any way to have them ripen sooner? Can you tell me when it is the best time and how to prune the tree? I would like your information on the above and any further suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Also, can you tell me what zone SI is in. When I check different maps, I get different answers. Thanks again.

Answer: To deter birds, you may want to enclose the plant with netting. Unfortunately there is not too much you can do to ripen the figs faster except hope the weather hold late into the fall. Figs can be pruned in the spring, if needed, to remove winter damage and shape or lightly thin the plant. Here is more detailed information on growing figs in a colder climate that you may find interesting. You may need to cut and paste the complete url to make it work correctly.

Your zip code places you in a nominal zone 6B (the warmer part of zone 6) on the USDA winter hardiness zone map. That map is based on average winter low temperatures. Depending on your microclimate, you could actually be in zone 7 or a solid zone 6. The zone maps are really only a guide, your garden's microclimate has a strong influence and can add or subtract as much as about half a zone. A sheltered location with protection from winter wind and surrounded by buildings that hold heat can help extend your season and raise the average winter minimum, for example. So it is better to go by your local experience than the generality of the map.

You may find that results differ from year to year depending on how mild or severe the winter is, how well established the plant is, and on the location where it is planted. If you are somewhat conservative, select plants rated winter hardy to zone 6 or colder. If you like to take risks or don't mind occasionally losing a plant over the winter, select plants rated winter hardy to zone 7 or colder and see if they make it for you. I hope this helps.

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