Winterizing Fig Trees: How to Prep Your Plant for the Cold
Fig trees are native to the Mediterranean Sea region of the world. They grow in warm climates with plenty of sun. However, winterizing fig trees protects them and keeps them healthy in cooler climates. Fig trees can tolerate cold temperatures down to 20 °F. The trees suffer damage at temperatures of 15°F.
Areas of the United States with cold winters and snow support these trees if they are winterized and cared for through the cold months. With planning and care, you can have fresh figs from your backyard fig tree.
Fig Tree Facts
|Scientific name||Ficus carica|
There are 800 varieties of fig trees. They are grown on the ground or in containers. When mature, the fruits produced by these trees are tasty and healthy. Certain fig varieties produce two fruit crops each year. The main fig crop is produced in the summer months. An earlier crop of fruit produced in the spring is called a breba crop.
Breba crops are produced in hardiness zones from 5 to 11. If you live in a climate or zone where figs do not normally thrive, plant cold-hardy fig types in containers. Container plants are moved indoors during the coldest parts of winter.
Preparing Your Fig Trees To Survive
The best thing that you can do for your fig trees is to prepare them for the cold when you are planting them. Choose a location to plant your tree on the south side of your home. The tree does best in a location that gets full sun for 6 to 8 hours each day.
Plant the trees far enough away from structures that their roots can grow deep and reach out. Do not plant fig trees close to your septic or water lines. The roots from the tree can grow into your fill lines and cause sewage backup in the pipes.
In – Ground Fig Trees
To have the largest crop of figs each year, your tree must be healthy. Some people think that winterization is not necessary because the fig tree loses its leaves, but the roots and bare limbs must be protected. However, winterizing fig trees planted directly on the ground requires some thought and preparation.
Fig trees grow to heights of 10 to 30 feet. Mature trees withstand cold temperatures better. The trees most susceptible to damage from the cold are the smaller trees that are 10 feet or less.
Winterize Fig Trees With Burlap
Burlap or paper are excellent materials to use when winterizing fig trees. You wrap the bare limbs of the tree with paper, such as newspaper or burlap, and then loosely tie a piece of jute twine around the material to hold it in place. Burlap is sturdier than paper and removable for use next year.
How To Wrap Your Fig Tree In Burlap Or Paper
- First, you need to prune the limbs before you wrap them. Remove any leaves or fruit that are still on the tree. Prune limbs that are rubbing together. Prune limbs that are growing horizontally. Trim older limbs and make room for the newer limbs to grow.
- Second, gather the limbs into bundles and tie them with jute twine to hold the bundle in position.
- Third, take the burlap or paper and wrap it around the bundle of limbs. Use additional jute twine to secure the material over the bundle of limbs.
Extra Security For Fig Trees Wrapped In Burlap
You can leave your fig tree wrapped in burlap or paper. To ensure the tree has the most protection possible, you can take your wrapping to the next level.
- First, create a framework around the tree using bamboo poles or metal stakes. The posts must be tall enough to extend above the tree. Taper the posts inward at the top. T-posts for fencing work excellently in this application. Set the framework of the post close to the tree.
- Second, use chicken wire to create a robust framework by wrapping the wire around the post.
- Then, use roofing (tar paper) to cover the chicken wire on the frame.
- The chicken wire covered in paper creates a container that, when filled with leaves, will insulate the plant. Pour in leaves and allow them to settle around the tree. This is excellent insulation, and it gets the leaves out of your yard.
- Finally, when the leaves are around the tree, place a plastic five-gallon bucket on the top of the structure.
Never Winterize Fig Trees Using Pipe Insulation
Pipe insulation looks like it would be perfect for protecting the bare limbs of the fig tree. When you place pipe insulation on the tree, the risk of fungal diseases increases. Furthermore, the same is true of bubble wrap and plastic sheeting. The pipe insulation and other materials suppress the tree’s ability to get air. They also stop the trees from getting the water they need.
Plastic creates condensation and intensifies the heat from the sun. The heat will damage a tree wrapped in plastic and it will develop fungal diseases like powdery rot from the extra moisture.
Winterizing Fig Trees In Containers
Winterizing fig trees in containers is easier than winterizing the larger trees that stay outdoors. The container trees are brought into the house to protect them from the cold. However, there are a few things to consider before you bring the tree into the house.
Where To Put The Tree
Fig trees must be protected from frigid temperatures; however, heated rooms from furnaces are as dangerous for them as the cold. The ideal places for your container tree are unheated rooms like your basement or garage. The trees do well if they are wintered in storage sheds or other covered structures that block them from the wind.
For the fig to produce fruit, it requires 100 hours of chilling. This is why you do not put the container in a heated room. The ideal location for the container will be in a dark room. Also, block bright sunlight by covering the tree with a sheet.
Outdoor sheds and garages get very cold if the temperatures drop below freezing for long periods. To protect the tree, use bales of hay and surround the tree for added warmth.
When the container is being stored for winter, keep the soil damp and not wet. When a tree is dormant during the winter,, it does not need to be watered. However, if the soil dries out completely, the tree’s roots will be damaged. Adding a small amount of water to the container monthly will keep the soil moist.
During the winter months, the fig tree does not require fertilizer. You fertilize the tree in the spring when the weather warms and the leaves are starting to bud on the limbs.
Prune outdoor trees before winterizing. Prune indoor trees in the spring. If you plan to keep your tree inside for winter, move it back outside in early April.
When do fig trees bear fruit?
Fig trees produce their fruit mainly in the summer months; when the temperatures are warm. A tree that is growing in hardiness zones between 6 and 11 has the opportunity to produce fruit in the spring and in the summer.
Are figs good for you?
Figs are high in calcium and other nutrients. Half a cup of figs contains as much calcium as a cup of milk.
Which state produces the most figs in the United States?
California produces the most figs in the United States. They produce 98% of the fresh figs sold in the United States and 100% of the dried figs. The Mission San Diego priests introduced the purple figs to California in 1769.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © simona pavan/Shutterstock.com