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Need help with fig, zone 3

Posted by konrad___far_north 3..just outside of E (My Page) on
Fri, Sep 27, 13 at 0:38

This plant is in it's 3rd or 4th year in a pot and has some figs, the second sets,..the first set dropped, think the watering wasn't consistent. It's about 7 foot tall,..got another two from cuttings in spring and about 2 foot tall.

Is there a way to mature the fruits in the house,..need to bring it in due to cold weather. Would it be better to plant in the ground during summer? Last fall it had fruits but all dropped when bringing to the house,..leaves fall off,.. you can tell I'm not a fig grower,..got convinced from a eastern grower when I did some plant exchange but he seemed to have vanished.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Konrad,

I have been growing tropicals in pots for decades. Planting the pot it would grow better and easier to dig up, but the figs may drop when you dig it up. So maybe not the best idea? Have good large drainage holes so roots can go though. You can trim them off in the fall. This is a lot of work though. I do it with cacti, but they have shallow roots, so I can plant directly in the ground. And they are going dormant at this time.
But the main problem is moving all at once, you need to do the opposite of hardening off. Bring it in a few hours, take it back outside, increase time daily for one or two weeks. 2 weeks being better. Supplement light. You don't need plant lights, although they are best. Incandescent is red, LED is blue, it needs both, alternate each light daily. Give it 12 hours, spot light, high wattage bulbs if no grow light. And really 4 foot flourescent plant light inches away for 12 hours is best. The pot growers have good lights, go to where they sell that stuff. They may have better lighting techniques?
I often lose leaves, but plants recover. I'm not looking for fruit though. If it doesn't work, I can't think of nothing else that would work? Maybe some fig grower's have other suggestions. I never dealt with fruit.
I suppose citrus growers in the north have the same issue. Maybe that forum may have suggestions too. Thinking about it fruit forms mostly in the winter on citrus, so may not be an issue?
I'm curious if other ways, keep us updated here if you post there.
Yes, moving big pots twice a year you thought was enough! Welcome to my world!

This post was edited by Drew51 on Fri, Sep 27, 13 at 10:35


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

I have 6 or 7 different fig trees (religiosa benjimina caricia etc). All of them detest temp swings and drop leaves.

Drew is right. If you bringit into a warm room with a lot of light (Artificial or not) it will do well. Mine has 2 figs this year and have held on since I brought it in. It may also produce a crop well indoors. My neighbor has one that sounds similar in a pot. He brought it from italy. IT produces 3 times in his house in a west window.....

The great things about figs is that they produces way better with restricted roots. Many italians plant 4x4 cement paving stones around the rots so they fruit better. The only thng is I think that if you did dig it up you may loose the crop due to root loss. The plant itself will be fine, im just not sure how well it will fruit indoors.

I would keep it in a pot, they do well and can be kept in a smallish pot for a very long time.....


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

I was thinking of getting a Chicago Hardy. it will grow here, die back probably unless protected, but regrow again. Still i would like to have one. I just made roasted fig-raspberry-pecan in wild flower honey-butter sauce. Served with ice cream.


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Thank you all!
Now I'll have something to think about and come up with a solution.
Mine is called desert king.


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Drew. I am trying a chicaco hardy or brown turkey up here in zone 4. I hsve deep snow for protection and ill bend then doen to the ground and mulch. wish me luck.


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Drew. I am trying a chicaco hardy or brown turkey up here in zone 4. I hsve deep snow for protection and ill bend then doen to the ground and mulch. wish me luck.


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Konrad,

Desert king is complicated and a special case so try to follow this.....

Desert king needs the fig wasp that they have in Europe and imported into CA. Without that tiny wasp to pollinate the fig they will never ripen....just as a non pollinated flower will not produce fruit. The fig is the flower so no wasp no fruit on the second crop. Even though those figs will never ripen you should leave them alone and let them grow and fall off on their own. Where they grow is where the breba crop will form next year.

Desert king will ripen the breba crop just fine with no wasp. Breba is that early first set of figs that grows on last years wood.


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Thanks Baboo!
It does seems complicated..as I understand, that guy in eastern Canada I traded with has the wasp or gets just one early crop on old wood. As I remember him telling me that the advantage dessert King has, getting two crops in a season. My first crop was on old wood and dropped,..think it happened due to inconsistent watering. My second crop now is on new wood and all will drop no matter what, good to know.


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Konrad,

Desert King is complicated.

Most common figs (exclude Desert King from the following advice) you get two crops though in your short season trying to ripen two crops is about impossible. You need to pinch the plants apical bud after every 6 leaves and that will encourage the plant to produce the fruit as early in the season as possible so it has the about 100 days it needs to ripen.

The wasp is ONLY in California in the US as far as I know and there is no way it is in Canada. If he is getting two edible crops it isn't Desert King. Mixed up fig varieties is rampant and the most annoying part of collecting them. If you can post a fairly close up picture of a leaf or two.


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Hello Konrad
The guy in the East just saw your post on Fig.
I read some other posts in the thread as well.
Desert King is very common fig (and more common in Canada to the west of you,, in BC). Only the 1st crop can ripen here because it does not need wasps for pollination. Here in Zone 5a the 1st crop (breba) ripens in mid to late July. The 2nd crop requiring fig wasps does not ripen here or anywhere other than California and the mediterranian areas where fig wasps do exist. Sorry, if there was any misunderstanding on production issues.
Keep the DK in big pots, 7 gallon or bigger with good draining soil. Keep it in a place with sunny warm micro-climat area at your place. Do fertilize good in spring and then lightly in summer when watering. Dolomite addition spread on soil top in spring time helps a lot.
Make sure the plants is stored in winter in a place where it will not be subjected to temperatures lower than freezing (say -3C or above) to avoid freezing or stressing of breba embryo because fruit in summer forms on previous year wood. This also makes pruning tricky.
(I wil follow the rest in an email soon)


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Make sure... to avoid freezing or stressing of breba embryo because fruit in summer forms on previous year wood.

Is this why I still have not had a decent crop of figs? Goodness, I thought if it is a hardy cultivar and made it through the winter it would produce. I'm glad to finally hear this now though.


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Milehigh,

You cold climate folks are better off on most figs simply snapping the breba crop figs off as they form and concentrate on your main crop figs. The brebas are few in number and greatly slow down the development of and growth of the main crop figs. Pinching the apical bud every 6 leaves is how you get a good main crop of figs in a short season area.

Desert King is a special case.....so needs special treatment.

This post was edited by bamboo_rabbit on Mon, Sep 30, 13 at 7:42


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

I can only assume that this is for outdoor figs. My neighbors produces 3 crops indoors every year.... He doesnt know the type though....


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Yes for outdoor figs in short season areas.

Not quite sure I would call it 3 crops really...you have breba which is figs formed on last years wood and you have main crop which is figs formed on the new growth. Some figs produce a constant flow and I am eating figs now on some bushes yet they are still making new figs now which probably won't ripen. Some figs do the breba then the mains, have a bit of a pause then push more mains so that is probably why your friend says 3 crops......in a way I guess it is.


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

I think I remember that some cultivars are bred to have a good breba crop. I supposed that these would be better for a cold climate. Was I wrong to assume that? How does one distinguish between breba and main crop?


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Milehigh,

Quite in to the figs with 70 or so varieties but it is a relatively new obsession for me and while I am reading and learning as much as possible I can make a mistake BUT from the way I understand it.....

Some figs do have a big breba crop but need the wasp for the main crop, they are called San Pedro types and Desert King is one of them.

On most common figs the breba fruit is bigger but inferior to the main crop figs in quality and that is why most people if they can only get one crop due to the length of their growing season shoot for the main crop figs and forgo the brebas. In really really short season areas the breba fig is about all they can get to mature. BUT it still needs protection because the embryo figs for the breba crop will be damaged at like 15-20 degrees.

In zone 5 you should be able to ripen main crop figs if the plant is in a favorable south facing location, ideally against a wall. Probably easier for you to have it in a pot though. Pots offer the advantage of being able to move it out on warm days and the pot heats up and the fig grows earlier. Yes that means if cold weather is predicted you would have to move it back inside where it would not freeze.

Breba figs grow on last years wood so it would be lignified (brown).....main crop figs grow on wood that grew in the current year and would still be green...well should still be green when the tiny fig first forms. Later in the summer that wood will turn brown.

There are a ton of growers in the north east part of the country and up in to Canada that grow the figs in pots and successfully ripen the figs. It does take some dedication. There are some very hardy types that will grow planted in the ground and survive though in zone 5....they may need protection. I'm in Florida so that part of the hobby I am not well versed in:)

Part of the process that helps is the pinching out of the apical tip every 6 leaves. If you don't do that the fig wants to just keep making green growth and by the time it decides to make figs it is way too late to be able to ripen them. If you pinch the plant it will produce the figs much earlier in the growing season so they will ripen before your first frost.

This post was edited by bamboo_rabbit on Mon, Sep 30, 13 at 11:48


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

bamboo_rabbit,

Thanks for all that info. I am disappointed in the fig forum here at GW because it's not at all active and my questions remain unanswered.

So next year I will have to pay more attention to the growth and prune accordingly. I think I understand a little more why a person can get a good crop from a small potted tree; they prune it so it has to put out new growth for main crop figs, then they only let the apical tip put out 6 leaves. Correct? (I had to look up what "apical" means)

Here is a link that might be useful: Why do some figs grow into a tree,and others a bush?


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Milehigh,

Yep 6 leaves pinch....it will branch at that point and let the branches get 6 leaves and pinch again. Here I don't have to do that as I have a 10 month growing season. It is the same thing we do to our blueberries though for different reasons. More branches just means more fruit.

There is an outside fig board see the link below. It is VERY active and has many very knowledgeable cold season growers that could help you.

Here is a link that might be useful: fig board


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Thank you bamboo & ottawan for all this info.!


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

bamboo_rabbit,

I've been thinking a lot about this post and from what I've read (don't know where exactly) people in short summer climates should plan to use the breba crop as the main one won't ripen. I've tried to get figs that have a good breba, which is opposite of what you mentioned. Am I on the wrong track?


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

Milehigh,

I suppose for some people that may be the only option but you have enough days to ripen main crop figs. Folks in Canada are harvesting main crop figs. I am in Florida though and it was 90 degrees here today so you may not want to take my advice on it:) If you join over at figs 4 fun there are a LOT of very knowledgeable cold climate growers that can help you in more detail.


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RE: Need help with fig, zone 3

bamboo_rabbit,

Thanks, I just registered at figs 4 fun.


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