Growing fig trees can be a daunting task for many gardeners, especially those gardening in Zone 6 and colder. Some very determined growers have developed a number of varied ways to protect their fig trees from the harsh winter weather, all with differing degrees of success. Some wrap fig trees with a heavy layer of straw-filled burlap. This method takes a bit more effort than my recommended technique. I mean, why struggle and fight with the harsh winter weather, when you can avoid it completely by growing fig trees in containers?! Then, when the nights start getting cold and frost becomes a threat, you can simply move your fig trees into an unheated area indoors (basement, garage, shed, etc.).
We carry the Brown Turkey Fig and Chicago Hardy Fig here at Stark Bro’s — fig trees perfectly suitable for container growing. The young trees are shipped in our temporary 4″x4″x10″ Stark® EZ Start® pots and these trees are ready for planting as soon as they arrive.
Obtain a large pot — starting, for example, with a 7-gallon container and moving up to a 10-gallon container when the tree’s roots become root bound to the pot. You can also use a pot that is about 2 1/2 feet in diameter, or a half whiskey-barrel. The container can be made of any material (wood, clay, ceramic, recycled materials, etc.) just be sure there are plenty of drainage holes to let excess water escape.
For a unique growing experience: before putting the tree into the container, place the container on a wheeled plant stand, which can be purchased at almost any garden center, hardware store, or nursery. This will make your life a whole lot easier when you get ready to move the container inside for the winter season!
After planting your fig tree in its container, water it well, then add a layer of mulch. The mulch will keep the soil from drying out too quickly. Put the fig tree in a sunny spot in your yard, and keep well watered. During hot summer weather, your fig tree may need more frequent watering, possibly even daily. Observe and respond accordingly to your tree’s environment. Note: If your tree’s leaves begin to yellow, chances are it is being over-watered.
Pruning your fig tree. Fig trees typically don’t require routine pruning, but you can prune them to a size that works for your space. I’d recommend keeping them manageable; between 6-8 feet tall.
In autumn, it is time to move the fig tree to an unheated basement, garage, or shed (when the leaves start to turn and fall) where the plant will go dormant. Check the plant occasionally during the dormant period for soil moisture. Be sure to allow the soil to become dry to the touch 2-3 inches below the soil surface before watering.
As warmer weather approaches and the days get longer, move the fig tree out to the yard for a few hours every day. (This will help re-acclimatize it back to its favored warm weather.) Take it back indoors in the evenings. When the danger of late frost has passed, move the fig tree back to its outdoor home. After just a few growing seasons, the healthy, vigorous tree will produce sweet & luscious fruit for your snacking and cooking pleasure!
Growing Fruit Trees in Containers
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