Ask a Question forum: Black Mission Fig Tree seems stunted

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Name: Meg Hedrick
Santa Barbara, California (Zone 10a)
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Megmurhed
Jan 29, 2018 4:01 PM CST
Hello, I am worried about my little fig tree and hoping someone might have a tip to help it grow a little faster.
I planted this black mission fig tree about a year and a half ago. It has not grown much at all! I would say it has gained maybe 6" in that time. It produces 3-4 figs a couple times a year (there are some on there now) they are delicious, but it doesn't seem to be getting any bigger. It just lost its leaves for the winter, normally it has 4 good sized healthy looking leaves on it.
I live in Santa Barbara where these trees are everywhere and they tend to do very well. This one is planted in my front yard and receives sun for 8+ hours a day. I have a vermicompost set up in my backyard and I have given the tree some worm castings a few times since I planted it but that didn't seem to have a noticeable impact. Are there any tricks I should be trying for a young tree that I'm not aware of?
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Jan 31, 2018 5:29 PM CST
Do you have hardpan or heavy clay soil ? Was tree rootbound, when you planted it ? How often do you water it in summer ? And, How often do you water it in winter ?
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Meg Hedrick
Santa Barbara, California (Zone 10a)
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Megmurhed
Jan 31, 2018 5:49 PM CST
I'm pretty new to gardening, but I'll answer these questions to the best of my ability.
The soil is not heavy clay, its pretty dry, and brittle, but dirt texture, not clay-like.
The tree came from a large container (about 15" diameter) and appeared to have a healthy root structure when we planted it, but had not outgrown its container, there was still plenty of soil visible when removed from the pot. It is watered daily early in the morning in summer and winter, though not a tremendous amount of water. On extremely hot days in the summer we have given a little extra water with the hose.
Another thing that I thought of to consider is that there was a large holly tree that needed to be removed near the fence and in the past 6 months we have had these mushroom fairy rings popping up all over the place in the yard which I believe is due to the roots rotting below the surface.
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Feb 1, 2018 11:09 AM CST
Howdy there Meg 😀
Mushrooms , no problem.
Ground looks hard and dry. You need some compost to work into top 3 or 4 inches of soil around tree out to 2 feet past drip line. Then top with mulch. Also keep that whole area clear of all vegetation. The whole area should be a shallow basin for watering, but you don't want water to get in contact with trunk.
From what you said, it sounds like it's only getting sprinkler water, most of time. Right ?.... That's a no go. It's a wonder, it's still alive. Grass sucking up water before, the little bit of water can reach roots.
Figs are tropical, and, there roots are active in winter, so they need watering in winter, even though they lose there leave's .
There shallow rooted, feeder roots are only 6 to 8 inches deep. So dont dig to deep around her. Being shallow rooted, they like, shallow, frequent watering's. But, do deep water twice a year to wash salts down from root zone.
After you water whole zone. Wait till top 1 to 2 inches of soil dry before watering again. Roots need to get some air.

Whew wee ! Blinking I gotta take a breather ! Rolling on the floor laughing
Anything, me Mis ? Let me know 😀

NOW !😀! ITS, OPERATION : SAVE FIGGY TREE TIME !
Ttfn I tip my hat to you.
😎😎😎












Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Meg Hedrick
Santa Barbara, California (Zone 10a)
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Megmurhed
Feb 1, 2018 7:59 PM CST
Thank you so much for your detailed advice! I did everything you said, watered her well, and this afternoon I topped with a few inches of mulch. I'll definitely post a pic for you once I see some progress, I'll start watering more often. Thumbs up Again, thank you so much for taking the time to help out my little tree!
Thank You!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Feb 1, 2018 8:43 PM CST
If your tree hasn't thrived in the year and a half since you planted it, there is something wrong with how you planted it. Or where you planted it. Figs are easy. Mission Figs in California are like weeds.

What kind of soil do you have in your yard? What did you do to prepare to plant your fig? Are there other plants near that are doing well or poorly?

I am going to suggest something radical. Its winter - the tree is dormant. Dig it up and replant it. Report back to us (with photos) of the tree roots, soil in the hole... whatever you think we should see.

Figs root easily from cuttings stuck in the ground. There is a reason this tree, that started with roots, has not flourished.
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: Rosie
HILLSBOROUGH, NC (Zone 7b)
If it sparkles - I'm there!
Garden Art Region: North Carolina Bookworm Plays in the sandbox Deer Dragonflies
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MISSINGROSIE
Feb 1, 2018 8:52 PM CST
Maybe it is sleep..creep...leap... give it Time..it may be in "creep"
Don't squat with yer spurs on!

People try to turn back their "odometers." Not me. I want people to know 'why' I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Feb 1, 2018 8:54 PM CST
I was serious. If I had a plant that was un-performing (or not performing) and it was dormant, I would take the opportunity to find out why.

Edited to add: we aren't talking about a tree planted last fall. It was planted 1 1/2 years ago. Time to find out why it hasn't grown and the best way to do that is to start with the roots.
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
[Last edited by DaisyI - Feb 1, 2018 8:56 PM (+)]
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Name: Meg Hedrick
Santa Barbara, California (Zone 10a)
Image
Megmurhed
Feb 1, 2018 9:06 PM CST
Hey Daisyl,
After hearing Philip's suggestions above, I'm thinking the problem may be that the tree was very under-watered? The soil in my front yard is very dry, we have been in a drought so we didn't water much over the summer, but I made an effort to water the fig regularly. This morning I tilled the first few inches of soil around the base of the tree and added a good amount of vermicompost to mix in with the soil and then watered, and topped with mulch. I was worried that the roots of an old tree that was cut down nearby may be impacting the progress of the tree, as there were some roots to work through while digging the original hole for this tree. Nothing huge, but they were there. Though we have been seeing quite a few mushrooms nearby and around where the old tree was, so I believe it is much decayed now.
You may have a point that it was planted incorrectly! I am very new to gardening and all I did with this tree was dig a hole about 2 times the size of the pot that it was in, then I planted it and filled with a mix of the original soil and some potting soil. Water and compost is all I have added in the past year and a half. Other plants/trees nearby are doing just fine, though nothing else is planted within a couple feet of this tree.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Feb 1, 2018 10:05 PM CST
Lack of water could affect the tree but not as much as you might think. These are trees native to very dry areas but young trees do need more water. If it was a lack of water, I would expect the leaves to be burned in the summer, not the tree to be stunted.

Adding compost to native soil in the planting hole could also affect the tree. When you dig a hole and then improve the soil, the tree you are planting will have a tendency to stay within the hole. Essentially, you are planting in a pot in the ground.

I assume you purchased them tree in a pot. If the tree was very root bound in the pot, and you didn't loosen the roots, chances are the roots haven't grown outside that original ball.

Do you see why I suggested digging it up and starting again? The choice is yours - just my 2 cents.
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: Meg Hedrick
Santa Barbara, California (Zone 10a)
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Megmurhed
Feb 1, 2018 10:15 PM CST
Well thanks for the 2 cents! I can use all the help I can get Thumbs up
The tree did come from a container but was not root bound when I planted it. I'll give it another season and water it more to see if anything happens. If it doesn't make any progress I'll re-plant. I'm hoping it will flourish with a bit more attention. This is the perfect place in my yard for a fig tree so I would love for it to make its home here!
Name: Rosie
HILLSBOROUGH, NC (Zone 7b)
If it sparkles - I'm there!
Garden Art Region: North Carolina Bookworm Plays in the sandbox Deer Dragonflies
Image
MISSINGROSIE
Feb 2, 2018 9:16 AM CST
I bet it will surprise you this year. Our climate is different but I will tell you that I had a devil of a time getting rid of a fig ...it just kept going despite my whacking it twice and ( thinking I did ) removing the roots. ..

I don't amend the hole when I plant trees for the very good reason daisy gave ...why lull it into thinking it lives in artificial conditions.
Don't squat with yer spurs on!

People try to turn back their "odometers." Not me. I want people to know 'why' I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved
Name: Meg Hedrick
Santa Barbara, California (Zone 10a)
Image
Megmurhed
Feb 2, 2018 11:55 AM CST
Good to know! I was thinking that the soil in my yard was so bad that the tree would surely fail if I just plopped it in there but It sounds like that's not the case. Thanks for your advice!
Name: Rosie
HILLSBOROUGH, NC (Zone 7b)
If it sparkles - I'm there!
Garden Art Region: North Carolina Bookworm Plays in the sandbox Deer Dragonflies
Image
MISSINGROSIE
Feb 2, 2018 12:15 PM CST
Just important to break it up ( the soil in the hole ..and make it big enough and don't sink too deep .. this way the roots won't have to be Superman to spread..the soil will be amenable to penetration
Don't squat with yer spurs on!

People try to turn back their "odometers." Not me. I want people to know 'why' I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
Image
Philipwonel
Feb 2, 2018 12:15 PM CST
You busted me up Rosie !
Sleep, Creep, Leap ! Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
So true. So true 😀 !!! Some trees and plants do that. My sister , who knows how to plant trees. Planted a fig and persimmon tree, added no amendment to holes, just dirt, she dug out.
The first year and a half. They barely grew. Even though there are usually fast grower's from the get go.
This last year, Bing, Bang, Powey ###!!! They took off !!! Growing like crazy horse !😮!!!

Personally ! I add (some) not even half, compost or mulch to a tree hole, when planting. I've never had slow starters. Whistling

Sooo !!! My bet is on Meg's fig tree, taking off this year 👍😀 !!!
😎😎😎 Tbotb
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Rosie
HILLSBOROUGH, NC (Zone 7b)
If it sparkles - I'm there!
Garden Art Region: North Carolina Bookworm Plays in the sandbox Deer Dragonflies
Image
MISSINGROSIE
Feb 2, 2018 12:37 PM CST
Me too. I had a buck eyevthat behaved similar.
Don't squat with yer spurs on!

People try to turn back their "odometers." Not me. I want people to know 'why' I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved

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