I am in Southern NH, zone 5b and am considering giving a fig tree a
try. I have read various techniques for babying the tree through our
winters; trenching, covering, bring em inside and plant along a south
I am planning on the latter as soon as I build the wall which has no
other purpose. Then I plan on constructing a cover with ventilation
Anyone care to comment on their succesful techniques? Actually,
unsuccesful techniques are worthwhile too - why reinvent broken
I grow figs in CT which is a little bit warmer than you but we get cold
enough here to kill off the new growth if it's exposed.
I wait until all the leaves are off (or pull them off) and the tree is
dry and wrap it up in burlap pulling the sticks in and tie them up.
Then I wrap that with some insulation and cover that with some more
cloth, then wrap it up in some tarp and that's pretty much it for the
My father in law has a huge tree which I guess is somewhat immune to the
cold as it's way too big to cover up in the winter but grows pretty well
The figs only bud from new growth stems so if you have some die off from
the previous years new growth it's not a bad thing. Some decent pruning
will keep the tree from getting unmanageable.
Good luck with them
John Bachman wrote:
Here in the Syracuse area, Zone 5, there are many fig tree owners of Italian
descent. There are several options, but in a Northern climate, you really need
to grow them in a tub:
Put them in the garage for the winter. They are hardy to Zone 8, so they can
take some frost.
Wrap them up in burlap & plastic & bury them or put them in a sheltered
Park Seed Co. sells dwarf cultivars, which are easier to manage.
Be sure to get a variety which fruits on new wood.
Once they get a dormant period, you can grow them indoors in a sunny window for
the rest of the winter. There is one drawback. Many Ficus carica get a
symbiotic microorganism which lives inside the leaves & fixes nitrogen. When
the sun shines, it smells exactly like you forgot to clean the cat's litter
Central NY, Zone 5a, Sunset Zone 40
"A tree never hits an automobile except in self defense." - Woody Allen
I have no fig experience - long torn between the sublime flavor of a
fig off the tree and the difficulties of growing one in Michigan I
chose to not grow one. But I have had tunnels in my garden for several
years now, single layer, and I can tell you that with the thermal
ballast provided by the soil itself they give you about 15F, which is
probably a bit more than you need to keep your fig alive. A couple
oildrums filled with water inside the enclosure will give you extra
security by moderating both temperature extremes.
You have to wonder, however, if the heat units at your place will be
enough to ripen the figs in time. I have a nice looking jujube, full
sun, producing lots of berries, and they never ripen in time (it's just
as well, the squirrels like them unripe). You may be able to get the
units by keeping the cover until Mem.day and putting it back around
Tunnels? Not sure that I follow you there. Can you expand on that a
I had not thought of the oil drums. I have a couple, painted black
and everything. Full of water and snugged up inside a covering might
be helpful. We are getting -4F tonight and -10F tomorrow - happens
nearly every year. That is hard to counter for very long.
It seems to me that some years they will ripen and some they will not.
We often get a frost in September but just as often not. Where's that
damned global warming when you need it? I would hate to put in a fig
leading to blame for a decade of early frosts.
I have permanent hoops over the beds. Come Thanksgiving I cover the
hoops with 4 mil polyethylene. I uncover April 1. In the intervening
time, I harvest whenever the veggies unfreeze. I have mostly chicory
and collard, with some tatsoi, kale, arugula, and also the lettuce that
will be coming up early in the spring. In years past I was harvesting
last on January 1. This year for the first time I will harvest
throughout the season.
-10F? Let me be the first to discourage you. The coldest I have seen
here in 10 years has been -5F, and some years it does not even get
below 0. Figs like it hot, more so than jujube, otherwise they will not
make it. Why not something like hardy kiwis? Flavor-wise, they are the
equal of figs, and you will get those for sure because they like it
mild, but will take 6 years. Nice plant with huge output once it gets
going, though you need a lot of space. Or you keep the cover on the fig
9.5 months a year.
Well, I like a challenge and I understand that fresh figs are a
delight (if I can get there). That is why I am seeking ideas on how
to get them through the winters. I have been told that others in this
area have succeeded, although I have not met any of them.
I thought of the kiwi but the fruits are very small, right?
oh bullshit. I have a Chicago fig that can take it as cold as it comes, I
think it's called Stella now. Another one calle Vern's Brown Turkey is
reliable and productive in the Northwest and bears large, sweet and
flavorful dark brown figs with amber flesh and sometimes producing two crops
a year. There is also another one called Desert King that can take coastal
and cooler areas with yellowish green skin and strawberry colored flesh.
Very productive and reliable. You can get any of these or something else
they offer (these are the best cold hardy varieties I've seen though) at
It seems to me that some years they will ripen and some they will
Mine did that only because the sprout I'd planted needed time to form a good
tree. The sprout has become a nice low trunked 10 year old and since I don't
whack it back anymore (I made the mistake of cutting the main branch down to
eight inches one year to "protect" it and now it's a bit too low to the
raised beds soil line) and only cut the higher branches back so they'll
branch more, my hardy fig gives me earlier fruit setting which ripens
earlier. If the season turns cool in September, I get a good batch. If the
season stays warm later, I get a second flush of fruit. You owe it to
yourself to experience fresh ripened figs.
Even a tree purchased now and planted on a warmish day will fruit for you
next year. And each year it grows bigger, it will acclimate and give you
more figs than you can do anything with.
They look like deflating balloons when they're perfect. My problem is the
hornets have found my tree and I fear their children will remember the
source for their pleasures late in my season last year and return earlier
and I'll miss out. These ain't small hornets! Today was the perfectly
bitter cold day to kill the tips of the last year's branch growth, which
will make cutting the branches back easier because I will see where they
were froze back.
Once your fig has started forming a tree trunk, it'll be fine. You shouldn't
have to winter over the tree at all. Plant it on the south-western side of
your property and it'll be fine. If you are afraid the cold will nip it,
mulch over the whole thing and put a small enclosing fence around the leaves
to keep them in place until March the first two years. (this is how I got my
fig sprout, a branch rooted under all the leaves my friend, Mary Emma had
put around her own tree, which is a Chicago Turkey fig) Only below zero
temperatures held for a week or more would do in this fig tree.
let 'em blame the figs anyway. If it doesn't get down below -5 and only
occaisonally, figs should do well if planted on the SW side like I said
Well, we have cold winter's when they finally get here and normal to hot
spring and summer months in Eastern Tennessee. With all the rains we got
last year, my established fig tree used all the overcast days and spring
warmth and rains to grow more branches and set fruit earlier and took all
seasons to ripen them by August first and second week where we were STILL
getting rains. (last year was a very rainy summer for us and not too many
hot days) The figs were just as good as always, and held on the tree until
I dared not pick them because of the hornets finding them. But I had quite a
few to eat out of hand before then, gathering up a few containers with
excesses to share with a few people at work who had never had them before.
I've ruined several people's love for Fig Newton's now thanks to them
tasting figs fresh ripened and sweet. Nothing like that in the cookie. (one
woman refused when I told her how sweet and tart they are fresh because she
didn't want the Newton taste ruined for her........so the other co-worker
got more and he was beside himself they were so good this year, he wants a
cutting for himself off my tree now <g>)
Why not something like hardy kiwis? Flavor-wise, they are the equal of figs,
and you will get those for sure because they like it mild, but will take 6
My point exactly. Figs will produce a few fruit the next year and every
year afterwards with more and more as they establish themselves as a small
tree or shrub. You don't even have to coppice it to the ground if you don't
want to but just whack it back to three foot stems and do that leaf mulch
thing packed around the plant and ANY variety will survive this way. I
guarantee it. And once you see what One Green World has to offer, you'll
want a few acres to try out really neat fruiting trees, shrubs, vines and
the like they offer. They even have Paw Paw! And some fruiting things I
want to try one of everything....LOL Especially the Honey Berries. This
year is my Honey Berry year for my woods. Especially since they can take
dryish woods :)
Nice plant with huge output once it gets going, though you need a lot of
That's about right. Mary Emma's kiwi has thick, invasive vines and you HAVE
to get two females and a male. And at least One Green WOrld has a guarantee
you have both sexes to assure fruiting. (and a neat picture to show you what
a male plant SHOULD look like on page 50 of their catalog, as their website
isn't up yet, just abilities to order their catalog) they have several cold
Or you keep the cover on the fig
you won't have to do even that with the right fig.>
oh you will. And once you taste a ripe fig there won't be any going back <g>
That is why I am seeking ideas on how
If all else fails you can always give me a holler adn I'll lay down a branch
and get it to root. That's you're last option. Try One Green World first.
top quality plants and a huge selection of awesome things to try with edible
some, yes, others no. Depends on what kind you grow, if you do. All the
best luck. (remember south west side of yer yard for the fig)
madgardener. zone 7, Eastern Tennessee
I have a fig in a tub and after a couple years of almost killing it I got 2 figs
summer (delicious... I think it is Celeste). this year I am hoping for a great
In fall when the light goes so does the leaves (even when it is warm enough). I
it into my heated garage (just heated). Last year it was in the wrong window and
leafed out before I got it outside. Those leaves burned in the sun and dropped.
This year I have it in a south facing smallish window. Am working on replacing
smallish windows with floor to ceiling polycarb twinwall. Brown Turkey, celeste
hardy chicago among others will fruit on this years wood, but one crop and it
come in before a frost. fruiting on old wood is earlier and more reliable so I
to keep my figs alive all winter (I have to remember to take water out to the
OK... so I got it outside and the year before it got watered when the leaves
droopy which was just too much stress and no fibs. So this last summer I put it
very slow continuous drip. This helped. This year I am going to do watering
timer (rainbird). Watering and food is really really important.
Now. I got a Japanese maple in a pot. It is really fantastic for a plant in a
But the reality is the roots have grown thru the pot into the ground and that is
it is doing so well. SO......
I am going to prepare the soil under where the fig tree is going. The pot is
to be opened up more on the bottom and good contact made so the fig can put roots
down into the soil and give me more growth. In fall, I will cut those roots off
after the leaves have fallen and move the fig back into the garage. Hopefully
will work until I can build a heated sun pit greenhouse. I simply LOVE figs and
dont taste like kiwis. I got two varieties that are delicious, but they are not
figs. when I gave my husband his first fig he was simply amazed it doesnt taste
any other kind of processed fig at all. Ingrid
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i live in new hamster, usda zone 4a and i envy you, you there who lives in
zone 5b. it's so strange how just a few degrees can make such a difference
(SNIFF). i LOVE figs and when i lived in zone 5a in utah, i had terrific
miniature northern brown turkeys that bore heavily and wonderfully. can't
do it here but, still, there ARE wondrous plants that WILL grow here and not
in your area, like the only rudbeckia which is not invasive and cannot even
be pollinated by any insect OR human (i've tried, i've tried) and never goes
to seed. ;o) it's a trade-off, i guess.
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