Fig Trees Are For Sharing

This year proved that fig trees are as resilient as the immigrants who planted many of them. If your fig tree sustained damage last winter and all or part of the above ground growth died, chances are that over the summer new shoots have grown from the ground and you didn’t lose your tree after all. You may want to allow the new shoots to continue to grow so that your tree grows in a multi-stemmed bush form or you may prefer to remove many of the shoots and grow it as a tree with only one to four closely spaced trunks.

Whichever you choose you can remove any extra shoots to start new trees to transplant elsewhere or share with family or friends, making fig trees as generous as the immigrants as well. I rarely leave the home of one of my gardening friends without a gift of one kind or another, vegetables, fruit, seeds, etc. On a recent visit to Tommasina’s she was kind enough to not only demonstrate how to dig the shoots, but also offered the two she dug as gifts.

The shoots can now be planted in containers or in the ground or even buried in a trench for the winter. If planted in containers or in ground, they will need to be protected this winter. Bring the container inside an unheated space such as a shed or garage and wrap it with burlap or a blanket and keep it watered lightly. Similar protection is needed if planted in the ground, but will need a final layer, such as a plastic tarp, to serve as a moisture barrier. If burying in the ground, dig a foot deep trench the length of the shoot and lay it inside. Cover the trench with heavy cardboard or plywood and cover the whole thing with several inches of soil.

Stay tuned for more blog posts about protecting your new fig shoots for the winter.

You can read more about Tommasina in our “Meet the Gardener” section here.

Comments

Mary Lou Folino

I have 2 young fig plants that are in containers I am wondering how to winter them over. Do I bring them into the house and water them or do I let them go dormant?

Reply
Mary Menniti

If you bring them in the house, they will continue to grow through the winter. Unless you have almost greenhouse-like conditions with an extraordinary amount of sunlight, the growth will be spindly and weak as it reaches for the limited amount of sun available. It would be better to allow the trees to go dormant outside and then in mid to late November or early December, move them into an unheated garage or shed and wrap them in burlap or a blanket.

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Christopher

Hello,
I live in NYC, last year with our brutal winter my fig tree did not make it. Many new shoots regrew this past season. I would say at least 10 maybe even a few more and all grew at least 6 feet 2 of them about 8 feet tall. I would like to only keep 2 or 3 where they currently are and the others i would like to give them away. My question is can i put them in pots for the winter and put them in the garage? My garage is unheated but there is a side room that has the furnace which keeps the garage a little warm. Do I have to water the potted figs in garage? Cover them? And also when I pot them what type of soil should I use? Sorry for so many questions I just do not want to kill them doing this process. Thank you for your help!!!

Reply
Mary Menniti

Yes, you can put the shoots in pots for the winter, using a mixture of potting soil and garden soil. Keep them in the garage wrapped in a blanket or burlap and water lightly only once every three weeks.

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Christopher

Shall I wait a little longer to transplant them or have they gone dormant already by this time of year? It’s currently around 50 degrees here in NY. And when you say wrap in burlap do you mean entire tree or only the base? Thanks again!

Reply
Mary Menniti

If the leaves have fallen off, then it’s safe to transplant now and anytime through the end of November or beginning of December. It depends on the weather though. If the ground freezes before then, it will make the whole process much more difficult. The entire upper part of the tree should be covered, not necessarily the entire pot though and don’t allow the pot to sit directly on the floor. Put it on a piece of wood or any material so that it isn’t in direct contact with a concrete floor. The tree needs to be covered not only for protection from the cold, but to keep it in darkness so that it will not be stimulated out of dormancy by light that it may be exposed to without a covering.

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Christopher

This is what I’m afraid of, the ground becoming hard before the leaves fall. Can I cut the leaves off from stem and transplant or would this harm the tree? Being that I work a hectic schedule my time to do it is limited and I do not want the temperature to drop down and harden dirt before I have a chance to do it. As you may know NYC weather can be strange at times. As long as I will not harm tree by doing it too soon (with leaves still on) that’s my main thing. Sorry for being a pest lol

Reply
Mary Menniti

You’re not being a pest at all, Christopher. Understandable that you don’t want to risk losing your tree. Lots of people are finding themselves in the same situation for the first time, having had trees that they never had to worry about protecting for the winter until last year. If you wait a week or two before digging, it is likely the leaves will drop by then and the ground will not yet be frozen. If you want to do it sooner, go ahead and dig the shoots now with the leaves in tact. Pot the shoots and put them in the garage uncovered. The leaves will eventually fall or wither significantly before it gets too cold in the garage. Try to keep them in a dark corner and then cover later in the winter when the leaves have dried up or dropped.

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Christopher

Thank you so much for your help Mary I really do appreciate everything!! Thanks again!!

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Greg F NJ

Hi. I had a shoot that i dug up in late sept. It had a little root ball and i planted in in vermiculite and soil mix and brought it inside next to a window that gets good sun light. The roots continued to grow and last week, i noticed the tip began to sprout 2 new leaves. What do i do now? Should I let it continue to grow or should I let it go dormant?

Reply
Mary Menniti

Since it was so recently transplanted and has begun to produce tender new growth, I would continue to allow it to grow inside for this winter, keeping it watered and near the window with good sunlight.

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Marisa

Hello,

I have a small fig tree (4-5′ tall) in a pot. It did very well 2 winters ago in my garage without being wrapped. I pruned it, rooted the shoots and ended up with 2 more small plants. This winter I put the larger on back in my garage unwrapped, kept one pot in the house and put another pot in the basement laundry room.

The one in the house is great, growing by the day. The one I left in the basement is completely dead 🙁 and I am afraid the large one in the garage is also dead. Usually by now I would see some sort of leaf buds. Is there any way to tell if I have completely lost the large one? I have been watering it with high hopes.

Also what type of soil would be best for replanting the one I still have alive?

I’m in NJ.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Reply
Mary Menniti

It may be too early to tell if you have lost any of the trees. The one in the basement may still be alive unless it dried out over the winter. Did you water it occasionally? The one in the garage may still be alive as well. It was a very cold winter this year like last. Some of my potted trees that I stored in the garage last winter in Pennsylvania didn’t show signs of life until late July. Don’t give up on any of them yet. When you bring them outside keep them in a shady spot for a few weeks until they become acclimated to outside conditions. Water lightly, don’t fertilize immediately.
Re-pot with a mixture of compost and potting soil or good garden soil.

Reply
Greg F NJ

HI Mary, I just wanted to thank you for your advice last year. my replanted shoots from last year have started growing like crazy. I also replanted the mother tree(about 30 years old) from my investment property to the front yard of my home. Today I noticed 3 little buds on last years growth. The post about how to wrap the trees was also a very big help. Thanks again!

Reply
Mary Menniti

How nice of you to let me know that you found the website helpful. So glad to hear about the success of your shoots and tree!

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Gioia Restivo

Ms. Menniti…
I have had a fig tree buried in the ground for 2 years now, but no figs. In the winter
I wrapped it in burlap and filled the space between the tree and burlap with mulch to keep it warmer. It’s getting pretty big. We live in Maryland so I’m not sure it’s warm enough here.
Can you help me.

Reply
Mary Menniti

It may be that your tree is still too young and the root system is not well established enough to produce figs. It seems as though you are protecting it adequately against the cold and since it is not dying back every winter, Maryland summer’s are warm enough to produce figs. Is the tree in full sun? Fig trees need as much sunlight as possible. Wrap it again this fall, and unwrap as soon as possible after the last frost in the spring and you may get figs next year. Good luck and keep us updated.

Reply

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