erins327
Senior Member
Posts: 209
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:21 pm
Location: Houston, TX

Whats wrong with my fig?

I've been battling this every summer. Fig tree about 4-5 years old now, transplanted to ground 3 years ago. The thing grows like wildfire throughout the year, always looks super healthy....until summer. Leaves turn yellow, and the figs don't ripen.

Last year I did have a rust fungus issue, but spraying it with copper didnt help. And this year it's too big to spray. It gets watered regularly (once a week now that it has stopped raining) and fertilized. The only thing I can think of is we have had a sudden heat wave, heat index is 110 today. However, none of my neighbors fig trees' leaves are yellowing and all their trees are bearing ripe fruit (and these fig trees are NOT taken care of!)

Advice anyone?
Attachments
20190710_065853.jpg
20190710_065910(2).jpg
#foodisfreeyall

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27650
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Whats wrong with my fig?

You have your tree in the lawn — do you do your own lawn maintenance? Is it possible the fig is being affected by herbicide or other lawn treatments?

Being next to the driveway may also mean excessive reflected heat, but figs should be able to take that right? Maybe it does need more water? (I’ll admit living in the northern range of fig hardiness, my figs are coddled)
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.

JONA
Mod
Posts: 803
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:11 am
Location: Sussex. England

Re: Whats wrong with my fig?

The most common cause of yellow leaf in figs is water.
They need plenty of water...but do not like sitting in water.
So they need very well drained soil....think about the rocky ground that is their natural habitat ....but also regular watering.
Also..they should be restricted on feed and root run.. Figs by their very nature will grow away very strongly rather than crop if they can. Restricted root control goes a long way to help produce crop.
John

erins327
Senior Member
Posts: 209
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:21 pm
Location: Houston, TX

Re: Whats wrong with my fig?

Yes applestar, we do our own lawns, which consist of no use of herbicides.

Jona, what do you mean "restrict them on feed and root run?" How do you restrict their root control?

I think im just lost because here in Houston, everyone has a fig tree. They grow like weeds here. And trust me, my neighbors are not coddling them. And everyone else's look fine. I will admit last summer I did not water it, just let the rain do it, and had this problem. So this year I am making sure its watered 1x/week at least, and I will see how it goes.

Thanks for the advice!
#foodisfreeyall

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27650
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Whats wrong with my fig?

I was wondering because I thought herbicide drift could also be a problem if lawn services are not being careful. I have to “speak” to my neighbor’s lawn service guys at the start of the season every year, to keep their sprayer wands down and spray the weeds directly. They seem to prefer to hold them up in the air and pretend they are working while the spray wafts around in the air.

I lost a Japanese maple tree in the front yard corner which had obviously been hit with herbicide, though that was my neighbor on the other side.

Do you think if the fig had been enjoying the particularly rainy weather, cutting back to once a week may feel not enough? Also, maybe tell us exactly how and how much you are watering once a week? Do you have a watering moat around the tree? Remember too, that the lawn grass is probably taking all the surface water, so you would need to water deeply where only the fig can reach.

The gardening books I have describes surrounding the fig tree planting hole with “tiles” or concrete or slate slabs with a large solid piece in the bottom of the hole as well. This is why smaller dwarf fig varieties take well to container culture (I have non-winter hardy figs in big pots that I over winter dormant in the garage).

I’ve tried simply cutting/pruning the roots of the in-ground variety with a shovel every so often. My tree is planted near/downslope of a roof downspout in a mounded bed with a swale(moat)/path in front of it — and this gets scraped down, severing any roots that grow into the mulch.
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.

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11218
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Whats wrong with my fig?

I have a Brown Turkey fig. The rust on the leaves are common. I consider it a nuisance and all I do is remove the leaves. As long as the tree is otherwise healthy, I don't worry about it. Good sanitation helps. It cannot be stopped because the spores are in the air an soil and the fig is not immune. If you want to spray a fungicide, you need to spray when the weather conditions support the fungal growth and before the leaves get infected. If the tree is old enough to produce and it isn't, your tree either is getting too much nitrogen that keeps it vegetative growth or it is being stressed some other way. Your neighbors trees are producing.
If the fig is not producing, I would get a cutting from your neighbor's tree if the fruit is good and start over. Figs will fruit even in a 1 gallon can in a short time. I like Brown Turkey and Black Mission best. My friend had a Kadota fig that even the birds did not like, so some trees are just not going to have good fruit.

Figs like to be in full sun. They do like a good long drink but will not tolerate "wet feet". Deep watering once or twice a week if it is windy and really dry. If you want your fig to grow more laterally (like a bush) then use a lateral branch cutting (it has a memory). Figs too tall, cut it, it tolerates pruning well at the right time of the year, just don't prune any tree more than 1/3 at a time or it will be mad at you. Figs fruit on new wood, so don't prune off your fruit at the wrong time. If you are fertilizing the grass and you have a lot of leaves, it may be getting too much nitrogen.
Put the fig in a raised planter bed or a tree pot (25 gallons or bigger). I have a fig in a keystone planter 4 bricks high. We use leaf mold. We use leaf mold because someone said it was being used in Japan and might help keep the fig roots contained longer. P.S. the roots still broke out, but the fig really likes leaf mold. Otherwise it gets 10-20-20 a couple of times a year if I remember. The soil in this garden is poor in nitrogen. Even when the tree does not get water for a while it still will fruit, but the fruit will be very dry and the fig will lose leaves. My particular plot where I have the fig has phytophthora and it is only 17 ft above sea level. It is one of the reasons that the fig is in a raised planter and it will die if the roots go deep and hits the water table. The garden is in a basin and the herb garden floods in heavy storms.
https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/PD-100.pdf
https://www.hawaii247.com/2008/12/29/fa ... or-hawaii/
https://hihort.blogspot.com/2011/09/edib ... arica.html
https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ext ... /figs.html
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

erins327
Senior Member
Posts: 209
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:21 pm
Location: Houston, TX

Re: Whats wrong with my fig?

Applestar, as far as watering goes, I usually let the hose trickle on it for about 15 minutes. But yes I could see where the grass could 'steal' it. As far as the herbicide theory which is a good one, I don't think thats the case because on that same strip of lawn I have a lime and orange tree that are very happy.

imafan26, I have a brown turkey fig as well. The fig is definitely producing, I have no less than about 10 pounds of green figs on it, they just don't ripen. I am thinking its more of a water issue because of what you and applestar have brought up. At least Im hoping this is what it is!

Either way, I am enjoying the fruits. I found a recipe online for green figs and they are delicious. You just have to boil down the 'sap' of the green fig, but I like the texture better than ripened jellied figs. Matter of fact I picked a pound off and made some today!

:()
#foodisfreeyall

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11218
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Whats wrong with my fig?

That is strange. The figs do take a while to ripen. Lack of water does slow that down and when the figs finally ripen they are small and very dry. Once they are ripe though, I have to get it before the birds do.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

erins327
Senior Member
Posts: 209
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:21 pm
Location: Houston, TX

Re: Whats wrong with my fig?

I'm wondering if for some reason I wasn't sold a Brown Turkey fig several years ago.

I do get ripe figs, but when I do they are very large and bright yellow.

Im still stuck on the fact that water isnt the issue because the theory of my neighbors all having beautiful fig trees with neglected yards, they are not watering them trust me. :P
To rule it out though, I have been watering every 5 days for three weeks so far. New good looking growth coming in, but it was also doing that before.
I would say about 75% of its leaves have browned and fallen off. With new growth at the top. The fig tree looks like its wearing a toupee.
#foodisfreeyall

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11218
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Whats wrong with my fig?

Brown turkeys don't yellow. They ripen to a purple brown color and get very soft. It has never gotten past that point on my tree because the fruits are very sweet and the birds know when they are ripe. I have to get to them before the birds do. Sometimes, even half a day is too long to wait.

If your figs turn yellow, then I think you may not have a brown turkey.

I actually like black mission figs too. They are sweeter. At the time I got my tree only brown turkey and white kadota were available. My tree came from a lateral branch so it won't become a tree but remains more like a bush. I do prune it regularly. I planted the fig in the herb garden, because figs are traditional trees for herb gardens in the past. I actually wanted a tree to help shade the cool herbs like the parsley from the summer sun. The tree from a lateral branch would not cooperate, but the fruit is good, so I decided not to fight its' nature and I let it spread laterally and keep the height down so that I can still reach the fruit on top.

I don't trickle water my fig. I flood the fig but only once or twice a week if I get to it. Deep watering is always better as the fig likes good drainage but likes to dry between waterings. If the soil does not drain well, the roots will rot and that will also cause defoliation. If there is a lot of fungal damage to the leaves, it can cause the fruits to fail to ripen. It has not been a problem for me, but my fig is adapted to my climate where humidity is almost always high. Cold temperatures may also keep fruit from ripening. Figs are not frost tolerant, although they are salt tolerant. It never gets really cold for me, but in general, this year, everything from orchids to fruit are blooming out of season (late) because of the weather.

https://www.walterreeves.com/food-garden ... varieties/
https://www.thespruceeats.com/fig-varieties-4057270
https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ext ... /figs.html
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

erins327
Senior Member
Posts: 209
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:21 pm
Location: Houston, TX

Re: Whats wrong with my fig?

Imafan-

I think you are right about it being something else. This would explain why mine is a little more high maintenance compared to my fellow neighbors with Brown Turkeys.

It has finally gotten 'cooler' (low to mid 90s) here in Houston with some rain every other day or so, so the tree is happy again. Putting out lots of ripe figs....that are yellow and delicious! It'd be great to know exactly which one it is but alas, going to enjoy it either way!
#foodisfreeyall

ACW
Senior Member
Posts: 153
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:20 am
Location: London

Re: Whats wrong with my fig?

Imafan,
thanks for all the interseting links you have put up.
On a wim I got a brown turkey this spring ,seems to be going well ,lots of growth ,i think i have fruit forming ,
The info you have given is very interesting .
A gardener with a small shady back garden and a balcony with containers ,
biggest problem not enough sunshine !

Return to “FRUIT FORUM”