JohnB
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Fig Tree Not Growing Well

I was hoping for a little advice. I’ve had this ‘Janice Seedless Kadota Fig’ tree for over five years now. All its leaves fall off ever autumn. I cover it for the winter.
In the spring, it sprouts some new branches, but the old ones remain dead. Starting from scratch each year seems to slow the whole growth process. It just does not grow. It bore no figs last year and only two the year before.

I’ve posted a photo for your reference [https://tinypic.com/r/15qxi07/8].
to post pictures, copy and paste the "image codes for forums" -- applestar

Image


Is there something that I should be doing to keep the plant continuing to grow from year to year?

Regards…John

PS - FYI, I live in New York.

imafan26
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Re: Fig Tree Not Growing Well

I grow figs but I live in zone 12a. Most figs will grow in zones 8-11. The die back is probably because it is too cold despite your winter protection. You can grow figs in containers. It might be happier overwintered indoors in colder zones.
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applestar
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Re: Fig Tree Not Growing Well

I've only been growing figs in containers for the past couple of years, and only ventured into outdoor planted fig last year with Chicago Hardy Fig which is a cultivar that is sure to survive the winter in my area, but I've been doing a lot of research previously, so here is what I know rom reading, not actual experience --

According to Monrovia's fact page, Kadota figs are hardy to USDA Zone 7 and root hardy to zones 5-6. Which means the top growths will die off if winter temperatures drop to single digits °F or below every night for sustained period of time (days), but the roots will remain alive and new shoots will grow in spring from the base of the tree if well mulched and protected from temps in the negative teens.

So it's probably the norm in your location for last year's branches to die off. Kadota can bear fruits on this year's growth and produce mature fruits for fall harvest. So your best bet is to apply a good helping of compost along with the mulch in fall, and another in spring, and probably give it some fruit tree fertilizer in early spring. Keep it well watered but not waterlogged. Hopefully it is planted in full sun (At least 6 hours of direct sunlight) in a well draining spot.

This sounds like an awesomely flavored fig. If I get comfortable with my Chicago Hardy, maybe I will get this variety too.... 8) -- How are you "covering" for the winter? If you can protect it enough to keep some of the previous year's branches, it might fruit on those in spring? Has that ever happened? (We had relatively and abnormally mild winters for a couple of years a couple of years ago....)
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CharlieBear
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Re: Fig Tree Not Growing Well

The leaves will fall off that is normal in most parts of this country. I am guessing that the old growth looks a little black, which means it froze. You don't say what you cover it with or where the fig is located. I see it is near a wall, but if that is not a south wall it is probably not getting enough heat during part of the growing season. Note also, figs are "Mediterranean", meaning in their native habitat they get most of there rain in the winter and maybe a lesser amount in early spring. So you need to mimic this as much as possible, so don't over water during the summer. I am not really familiar with the growing habits of that variety, it is not one that we recommend here. But figs fall into 2 types, one has a good crops early in the summer from the very small flowers set the previous fall as well as a latter crop. Some tend more towards only the late crop. The problem is that is short season areas, the late crop usually doesn't ripen unless you create a micro climate that is warmer in the fall than the surrounding temps. Also, some fig varieties are slow to get a foot hold and get started. The sad truth is that you may have picked a variety that is only fit for conservatory growing in your area. Many people up north try potting them in large pots so they can bring them into the garage in the winter or place them in a very sheltered area. The pot needs to be very large and eventually the fig will get "strangled" roots and die. Sadly, your best option maybe to check around with your extension and see if there are figs that handle your climate better. Figs are herbs and the fig is really the flower, that is why it keeps coming back from the roots, some varieties will do that and grow fast enough to produce some figs in the fall at least in Virginia and Pa.

imafan26
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Re: Fig Tree Not Growing Well

True. figs will eventually break the pot, but a rooted cutting from a producing fig will fruit in a one gallon container. Figs do produce from current growth after they are about 2 years old. Some figs only produce for a short season while others are more or less ever bearing.

I have a brown turkey fig and it must be happy because it actually bears fruit pretty much all year. It does not totally defoliate in the fall and I actually have to just bite the bullet and just prune the tree to keep it in bounds because I will more than likely have to trim off fruit.

Brown turkey should be able to grow in zone 7-9 and be root hardy in zones 5-6.
It fruits twice a year in most places, mine just never stops and stays in fruit almost all year.

I looked up kadota and it will produce only one harvest in the fall.

To echo what someone else has said, if you can provide a better micro climate with at least 6 hours of sun and south facing it helps. In your picture you have planted the fig next to the wall. It really is not a good place for it to be. If the fig was growing well it would not have room to spread and should be at least 15-20 ft from walls or utilities. It is why my fig is in a raised bed or in a pot. I still have to sever any surface roots that break out of the raised bed and I don't let any fig in a pot sit on the ground but on a raised pot or bench.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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applestar
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Re: Fig Tree Not Growing Well

Brown Turkey used to be the only variety available/offered by most mail order companies And garden centers back in 80's and 90's when I started collecting catalogs, and I suspect them to be the ones that are all over Zone 6 areas of north and central New Jersey neighborhoods and Pennsylvania up to NY. They are kept going from year to year through heroic efforts by their dedicated owner/gardeners, half root pruned to push it over, and are wrapped like a mummy and buried in coffin-like wooden-sided boxes in leaves and straw to protect from freezing in the winter.

I suspect that in some Italian and other south European ethnic neighborhoods, other varieties may have found their way by way of cuttings that were "carefully" brought over.

I've always wanted to grow figs but couldn't see myself doing all this, and set my sites on the Chicago Hardy once that became available and had been scanning and following winter survival reports and anecdotal recommendations ever since.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

JohnB
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Re: Fig Tree Not Growing Well

Thanks for all the info guys.

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GardeningCook
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Re: Fig Tree Not Growing Well

I can't give you much advice, but there does have to be an answer for you.

I commuted from Stony Brook, LI, to Manhattan for five years, & during that time the LIRR passed by many Queens backyards where large fig trees were wrapped in burlap & plastic for the winter. They obviously made it through the winters since they were anywhere from six to ten feet tall.
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imafan26
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Re: Fig Tree Not Growing Well

Brown Turkey and Black Mission are the best figs here for taste. White figs are not as sweet, even the birds leave them alone.

We grew figs for arbor day. They fruited in one gallon pots from cuttings.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.



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