The Q&A Archives: Dropping figs

Question: I've got a fig tree in a pot that's five years old, but I never get any figs. It's outdoors all summer and I bring it indoors every fall, but the fruit always drop off when they are small, whether the fruit has formed indoors or out. Mary Leach Bridgeport, MI

Answer: The tree is probably pot bound, says Michael McConkey, owner of Edible Landscaping and grower of more than 40 varieties of figs in Afton, Virginia. Figs are very aggressive growers. Root-bound figs are more likely to suffer from a lack of water. All it takes is one dry period in the pot and the fruit will drop. McConkey suggests that figs grown in containers be root-pruned annually. The best time to do this is early in spring before growth resumes. Remove the tree from the container and prune all the roots back by a third. Repot the fig in the same container and add fresh soilless mix and one cup each of bonemeal and lime. These amendments will add phosphorus and calcium, which figs crave, notes McConkey. When placing the fig outside for summer, try planting it, pot and all, into the ground. The plant will grow lush and you'll probably have mature fruit by September, says McConkey. In fall, dig up the container, prune off the roots that have grown out of the container and bring it in for winter. A good variety to grow in containers is Petite Negri, advises McConkey. It's dwarf, growing only three to four feet tall, but produces two fig crops, one in late June and one in September.

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