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Help! Fig sapling snapped...

Posted by studentjo Wellington, New Zeal (My Page) on
Sat, Dec 7, 13 at 16:36

I had a bit of a disaster yesterday - we've had some very high winds here, and a 3 year old fig sapling (not staked - I thought it had got strong enough by this point :-( ) snapped just below the lowest leaf line. The break was severe enough that the only thing holding the top and bottom together was a strip of bark. It was also quite a bad rip - not a clean break (i.e. a lot of splinters, and quite an acute angle)

Unfortunately, this was just before I had 20 people arriving for a party, so had very little time to do anything except get some electrical tape (the only thing to hand) to tape the two parts back together, and use a cane to try to support it (both above and below the break.

This morning, it is not particularly happy! The leaves are wilting really badly.

I'm going to go out and look for fixer and some proper binding, but if I have left it too late, what do I need to do to encourage the lower part of the tree to generate more shoots/leaves?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Help! Fig sapling snapped...

First, plants can't usually just be taped back together like a child's toy. I would completely forget about trying to "mend" the plant. If you had removed the top and taken it inside, you might have gotten it to root. As it is, probably all dried out, I'd just throw that part away now.

There is a very good chance that the root system will send up new shoots. Just clean up what's left using good clean, above-ground cuts. And let nature take its course. Within a year or maybe two, you will probably not even know it happened.

RE: Help! Fig sapling snapped...

Thanks Brandon - I'd suspected that may be the case *sigh*.

Should I clean up so that the break is at an angle (i.e. to allow water run off) or flat?

(Edit) - the break is such that there is a strip of bark missing from the trunk about two inches long - would it be better for me to cut below this, so that the bark is whole for the remaining bit of the tree?

And is there anything that I should put onto it to stop infections or mould/fungi?

This post was edited by studentjo on Sat, Dec 7, 13 at 17:48

RE: Help! Fig sapling snapped...

hard without a pic...

but most likely.. make a clean cut at an angle... just below the break ..

with no insult to the root mass.. there is no reason it should not rebud and grow like the dickens ....

unless fig is some foo foo tree that doesnt have dormant buds ...

after it sprouts like mad.. remove excess leader to one or two ... and by a year from now.. down to one ...

in fall.. a pic or two.. would allow us to help you decide.. which is the strongest for pruning out the rest ...

this is really.. no big deal.. in the life of a tree ... ALL can re-leader .... its usually part of the definition of a tree ... and this gives you the opportunity to learn about pruning ... of which.. had you such knowledge.. you may have foreseen this problem ... as in.. the canopy was outgrowing the triunk ...

regardless.. the hardest thing to conceptualize.. is that trees work on their own schedule ... there is not instant gratification ... and if you can not deal/cope with it for say.. 3 years.. this renovation project.. just get rid of it ...

one thing i do NOT know on fig.. is there any chance it was grafted above teh break.. if so... you may not have a quality plant below ...

if no one here knows.. a fruit person in the fruit forum may know ....


RE: Help! Fig sapling snapped...

Thanks, Ken, I'll do that :-)

I don't believe it was grafted above the break - the break point now is pretty much just above the height of the sapling when I first bought it. Time will tell on that, I think...

It'll definitely give me a lesson on pruning - I thought with only two major and one minor branches (and none of those with offshoots - it was essentially a forked sapling with one new branch coming through the middle, which has only grown in the last couple of months this spring (NB - I'm in NZ, so just coming into summer now :) )), that I needed to wait at least till this autumn for any pruning!

I don't think it helped that I'd recently had to have a nearby tree removed, which got rid of some of the shelter, and the winds yesterday were stronger than they've been in a while.

And I'll definitely come back in the autumn to ask for pruning tips, both for my fig, and also for some of my other trees :)

RE: Help! Fig sapling snapped...

If we are talking a regular "common fig" (Ficus carica), it would be very unusual for it to be grafted, especially with a small seedling-sized plant. Grafted plants of that size would serve little purpose and have the disadvantages of profuse suckering and a higher likelihood of loosing the chosen cultivar (scion).

As Ken advised, cut at a slight angle. A picture would help, but I'd probably cut it about an inch or two above ground level.

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