Figs2011
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:10 am
Location: Switzerland

How to prune a fig tree

Hello,
I am the proud new owner of a very old (30+) fig tree. When we first visited our new house the tree was lush and covered in fantastic, delicious, plump figs.

We moved in in December and now the tree is bare with little figs (some green, some decaying) on the tips of all of its branches. I've also noticed that the base of the tree has many young shoots growing out of it.

I've begun to remove the little fruits, clipped a few of the shoots(are these suckers) and even went as far as clipping back some branches that still had many fruits still on them. I cut where the grey of the branch turned to a healthy soft dark brown, which I assume is last year's growth.

Then, I panicked. What if I ruin it :oops: ?

Should I just de-fruit? Cut more? Leave it be? My gardening encyclopedia offers some very drastic pruning advice which I am afraid to follow.

Would love some advice!
Cheers

gumbo2176
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3065
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:01 am
Location: New Orleans

I wouldn't worry too much. A while back, one of my neighbors had a huge pecan tree that shaded my fig tree. That fig tree was growing almost parallel with the ground to reach for light. Hurricane Katrina took care of the Pecan tree so my fig tree is now getting full sun. Two years ago I decided to cut it back and I cut it back severely during the winter. The next summer, I had tons of new growth and one of the best fig crops that tree had ever produced. I do remove the "sucker" growth from the trunk and take some of the same off of the branches. Fig trees are pretty resilient. Mine sat under salt water for 2 weeks when New Orleans flooded and still survived.

Figs2011
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:10 am
Location: Switzerland

Thanks for your response. I'm glad to hear that your fig tree is thriving after such hard times. I'll get my pruning gear out this weekend and see what I can do for mine.

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

Wow I thought it would e REALLY cold right now where you are!
My area gets too cold in the winter to easily grow fig trees -- some peopl manage by pruning severely and wrapping the entire tree like a mummy in Autumn, and others even half dig the tree, tip it over to lay in wood box lined trench like a coffin, then bury/mulch heavily fo the winter.

I'm trying to make up my mind whether to plunge into the possible hassle of trying to grow a fig tree outside. Do you have any idea what variety fig you have?

One advice I've read in almost all pruning articles and books is not to cut frozen wood. In my area, spring thaw and extended above freezing, sufficient to defrost frozen trees, begins a week or so after Valentines Day, and that's when I start seeing local orchards begin to prune their trees. It's also when a local heritage farm begins the winter tour of Sugar Maple Tree tapping. I take my cue from them.

Figs2011
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:10 am
Location: Switzerland

Hi applestar. I actually live in the Swiss 'Riviera'. Its a microclimate with mild winters. My fig is neighbors with an overgrown Palm tree, and a few bushes of lavender, we are in the middle of a vineyard. So I'm not sure our winters are comparable. The fig has survived 2 winters at least (I think it's over 30 yrs old) with no care at all.
I'm happy you mentioned the frozen wood... I'll have to take that into account.

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froggy
Senior Member
Posts: 269
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:54 pm
Location: Toronto, ON, zone 5a

You must be in Ticino - my grandfather had a house in Lugano, he grew palms and all sorts of tropicals there... No figs though that i know of...

Still the tree would be affected by seasonal changes, so you can't expect it to go strong year round.

I'm thinking it's just in a bit of a lull, waiting for spring.
;)

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