The Q&A Archives: fig trees

Question: when is the best time and method for planting fig trees in Southwest Virginia

Answer: The first step is to select the best location in your yard for planting the fig tree. The ideal position will offer full sun, a southern exposure, and provide protection from prevailing winds and late frosts. Planting alongside of a brick structure or stone wall will give the fig plant a convenient barrier to the weather and allow it to absorb heat radiating from the stones or brick.

I'd plant in spring so the tree has all summer to establish and grow. If you plant a fig tree now it will barely get a chance to adjust before cold weather arrives and you need to protect it for the winter.

Plant the fig tree in average soil mixed with compost, but do not add manures. Figs are not heavy feeders, and over fertilization results in lush leaf growth at the expense of fig production.

To winterize an in-ground tree, insulate the base with leaves or straw and wrap the branches with blankets, quilts, canvas, carpet, or carpet padding.

Another trick to provide winter protection is to actually dig the plant up and lay the entire fig tree on the ground. Then cover with a piece of old carpeting, a layer of soil, and a thick covering of leaves or straw. When spring arrives simply uncover the tree and plant it upright.

Even without going through the effort to winterize your fig tree it may survive if you planted it in a sheltered location. If cold weather does destroy the tree, all is not lost as new shoots will frequently sprout from the roots to reestablish itself.

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