Ask a Question forum: Fig tree help!

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HokieLaur
Nov 9, 2016 11:28 AM CST
We bought a fig tree last spring and temporarily planted it in a pot until we move into our new home and can plant it in the ground.
It was doing well in the spring and summer, but lately it's dropped it's leaves and isn't looking great.

I feel like I should be pruning it and I'm also concerned that we might have root suckers?

Can someone advise?
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Name: Lin
Southeast Florida (Zone 10a)

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plantladylin
Nov 9, 2016 3:46 PM CST
Hi HokieLaur, Welcome!
I don't know a thing about growing Figs (Ficus carica) and I'm not certain but I think some Figs are deciduous and it's normal for them to lose their leaves in the fall or winter. As for pruning, depending on the area of the country, this time of year might not be the right time for trimming or pruning.

Hopefully someone more knowledgeable with Figs will be along with suggestions and advice soon.
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Nov 9, 2016 5:02 PM CST
Hi and welcome! My fig tree drops leaves when it gets that rusty fungus - the reddish spots on the leaves. It doesn't kill the tree and it puts on a whole new set of leaves after that happens, then it loses all those leaves for the winter as well.

No worries, I wouldn't think. Don't take off any of those base branches until the tree is a lot bigger. After you plant it out at your new home, let it grow all it wants for a couple of years, then you can limb it up (cut off lower branches) to encourage more of a tree shape. Early on, it just needs all the leaves it can make so pruning will only set it back.
Elaine

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Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Nov 9, 2016 5:27 PM CST
Welcome! HokieLaur,
When asking questions it's a good idea to give your location so we know the climate; even the indoor climate.

We have a member here who grows tons of varieties of figs, many are in pots. I will use the @ symbol to alert him to your question and hopefully he can give you some advice.
@ediblelandscapingsc
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Nov 10, 2016 10:39 AM CST
Figs are deciduous. Put it outside. It needs chiling hours. To produce. You dont want it to start growing before spring. Pruning can be done any time. Prune to shape as it grows. Right now it its in perty good shape if you want it low to ground. It makes for easier picking of fruit. Thats
"My opinion"!!!
They dont get suckers. Unless your talking bugs that suck root. I dont know of any !
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Name: Daniel Erdy
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ediblelandscapingsc
Nov 11, 2016 8:12 PM CST
Sorry for the late reply, I agree with Philip and Elaine it's normal for fig trees to go dormant and drop their leaves. I wouldn't prune it. I wouldn't put it outside until you let us know where you are located. If you live outside of it's growing area you could loose your tree.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Nov 11, 2016 9:35 PM CST
It looks like a normal looking fig. I agree with all the advice given above.

In the San Joaquin Valley (California), the Indians carried figs from the Missions up the rivers, planting trees as they went. Now those trees (or their children) growing along the rivers sometimes take up acres and look like giant jungle jims. My kids spent hours when they were young climbing through the tangle of branches.

If you want it to look like a tree, eventually those bottom branches will have to go. But be patient.
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tomatorit
Jan 2, 2018 4:55 PM CST
I have four different varieties of fig trees on my property in Washington DC. The trees are of varying ages. In past winters I have lost all mature growth through winter kill, i.e. down to the root ball which survives and grows back the next year. I am interested in the reason for the winter kill with two possibly theories in mind. The first would be sub freezing temperatures (which is the current weather) generally killing the mature growth. The second reason is sub freezing weather toward spring when the sap begins to move and the thin bark allows wind driven cold to dehydrate the limbs and trunk.
If the later reason is correct, then i still have time to wrap the major trunks otherwise i can expect a total die back and as you know fruit is only borne on the second year of growth. I would appreciate any expertise on this subject and/or should i give up on fig trees?
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Jan 2, 2018 5:41 PM CST
Tomatorit - Ficus carica is deciduous wherever temps fall close to or below freezing. The colder it gets, the more cold-related dieback there will be. I'm not sure I understand the distinction you are drawing between your two theories. The dieback occurs because of cold temps that start in early winter and continue through the winter.

In your area, the best practice would be to wrap your trees for protection as soon as temps start to get close to freezing in the late fall and leave them wrapped until sub-freezing temps are over in the spring.
Will Creed
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Jan 2, 2018 6:47 PM CST
I am in agreement with @WillC .
Protect tree's early.
Your out of there zone , with total die back. There going to need some heat, to keep them from subfreezing weather.
Some old fashion Christmas tree lites , the kind that get hot , strung on the trees, during freezing weather, 24/7 if necessary, or something similar.
They are sub-tropical. There roots are active year round . They, also need watering year round.

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Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Jan 2, 2018 8:25 PM CST
In sub-freezing weather of the northeast, artificial warmth from lights will not help in the way that wrapping will. Because Figs go virtually dormant in sub-freezing weather, they do not need any more water than they will get from normal winter rain and snow fall.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Jan 2, 2018 8:48 PM CST
??? Shrug! ???
What does someone from fig country know ?
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jan 2, 2018 9:23 PM CST
tomatorit said:I have four different varieties of fig trees on my property in Washington DC. The trees are of varying ages. In past winters I have lost all mature growth through winter kill, i.e. down to the root ball which survives and grows back the next year. I am interested in the reason for the winter kill with two possibly theories in mind. The first would be sub freezing temperatures (which is the current weather) generally killing the mature growth. The second reason is sub freezing weather toward spring when the sap begins to move and the thin bark allows wind driven cold to dehydrate the limbs and trunk.
If the later reason is correct, then i still have time to wrap the major trunks otherwise i can expect a total die back and as you know fruit is only borne on the second year of growth. I would appreciate any expertise on this subject and/or should i give up on fig trees?


To @Tomatorit, Figs are native to the tropics. Most figs can't take those low temps but there are some cold hardy ones that live in our area (Zone 6). Maybe you should look for one of those.

And to Philip:
Maybe something about figs? Smiling It doesn't really matter, the OP has been gone for two months
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
Jan 2, 2018 9:33 PM CST
Figs, Italians and NYC- its a SET! Drive through any decent part of NYC in winter and there's these weird blue statue looking things in everyone's yards- and it turns out they are fig trees wrapped up in tarps.

Don't worry, it doesn't have to be a blue tarp, you can use any color you want, lol, but you have to keep the frost off them. I don't know why It works in a six zone, becasue eventually the branches will freeze solid, wrap or no, when we get a week of sub freezing temps, but it does work. They only fruit from mature branches. If you let those branches freeze every winter you'll never get fruit. Saving the roots isn't enough.

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