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Growing Fig Trees in Containers

by Stark Bro's on 11/08/2010
Potted Fig Trees

Fresh figs are some of the tastiest and easiest fruits you can grow, and fig trees are incredibly attractive with their uniquely shaped green foliage even when they trees aren’t fruiting. Fig trees, when compared to other fruit trees, have one of the shortest wait times before you should expect fruit: usually 1-2 years after planting. However, even with all the perks, fig trees have a reputation in northern gardens (zone 6 and colder) for not being winter-hardy enough to try.

Fortunately, you don’t have to struggle and fight with the harsh winter weather when you grow fig trees in containers!

We offer varieties like 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 in containers as soon as they arrive. That way, when the nights start getting cold and frost becomes a threat, you can simply move your container-grown fig tree into an unheated area indoors, like a basement, garage, shed, etc.

Planting Fig Trees in Containers

Chicago Hardy Fig Tree in ContainerFind the right container:

  • The container you use 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.
  • Try to avoid heavy decorative pots, since they may be difficult to move once they are filled with soil, water, and a fig tree.
  • Don’t waste space! Start small and move up to a larger container size as the tree roots fill the current container. For example, you may start out with a 5- or 7-gallon container and move up to a 10-gallon container when the tree’s roots fill the previous container size.
  • Your tree may eventually end up growing in a container as large as 2.5 feet in diameter, like a half whiskey-barrel, but these are heavy and difficult to move, so make sure you can manage the container size you choose to plant your fig tree in.

For a unique growing experience:

Consider a container on wheels for your mobile convenience! 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 around for the winter season.

Planting Tips:

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. Unlike most other fruit trees, fig trees typically don’t require routine pruning, but you can prune them to a size that works for your space. Depending on the variety, fig trees naturally mature around 10- to 15-feet tall or taller! Many fig tree growers find that keeping them between 6-8 feet tall is most manageable, especially in a container environment.

In autumn, when the leaves start to turn and fall (ideally before the first killing frost), it is time to move the fig tree to an unheated basement, garage, or shed where the fig tree will go dormant. Check 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. Dormant roots don’t take in much water, but the moist soil keeps the roots from drying out. Avoid drenching or overwatering your dormant fig trees; this will avoid root rot and other moisture-related issues.

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 acclimate it back to its favored warm weather. Take it back indoors in the evenings. When the last frost date has passed for your area, move the fig tree back to a sunny spot outdoors. In no time, your healthy, vigorous tree will produce sweet and luscious fresh figs for your snacking, cooking, and drying pleasure.

Read more about growing fruit trees in containers here!

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Topics → Planting & Growing, Tips


  1. Lori permalink

    Hello. Is it necessary to let the fig tree go dormant in the winter? I bring mine inside, but keep it watered and in our living room. We live in Ohio. It produced about 10 figs this past summer and it was the 2nd summer that we had it. When I keep it indoors, it loses most of its leaves, but as I said, I keep watering it. I didn’t know that I was supposed to let it go dormant.

    • Judy permalink

      Hi Lori! I’m going to recommend that you allow your fig tree, grown in a container, to go dormant this year. :) By doing this, you will be allowing the tree to complete its annual growth & fruiting cycle. If you have a cool place where you can keep it, with little to no light, that would be ideal. See if it doesn’t do better next year! Best wishes.

  2. Loree permalink

    I have a brown turkey fig that is five years old…it is probably eight feet tall. Every year it has only a handful of figs. I don’t fertilize it because I read that nitrogen promotes leaf growth and not fruit. Any ideas on what I should do? thanks

    • Judy permalink

      Hi Loree, if you want to increase the fruit production of your fig tree, I have a couple of suggestions! First, I recommend you fertilize your fig tree in early spring, when the buds swell, using a balanced fertilizer (8-8-8, 10-10-10, etc.). This will replace the nutrients used for the prior year’s fruit crop. Also, be sure your tree receives full sun during the growing season. Fig trees love the heat and they love the sun. Some years, in colder climates, there aren’t enough warm/hot days to provide a heavy crop. You might consider planting an additional fig tree, one that is a hardy and bears early, like Chicago Hardy, to boost your total fig yield. Give these suggestions a try; you should have better results this coming year!

  3. Debra permalink

    I have a fig tree which also comes in to my living room each fall. I’ve had it for about 4 or 5 years. It makes figs, but later in the season and they don’t have time to mature before it’s got to come back in the house. I sure would like more pointers on how to promote growth & yield from this beautiful tree!

    • Judy permalink

      Hello Debra! I wouldn’t recommend putting a fruit-producing tree in a heated & lighted part of your home for winterizing. The ideal conditions would be in a room with no sunlight coming in and indoor temperatures between 32º and 45º F. This isn’t often possible in a heated winter home, but a garage, basement, cellar, or shed will do – even if the temperatures drop below freezing once in a while.

      Most fruit trees (fig trees included) use their dormant rest in order to prepare to produce fruit the following year and improve their quality and duration of life. :) Give it a try this winter and let us know how it goes! I think you will have great results in 2011.

      • Charlie permalink

        Do you, by any chance, know if this also applies to citrus fruit trees? I also bring my potted tree into our Colorado home and place it near a large window experiencing the same symptoms the fig tree owners have experienced. Any help would be appreciated.

        • Citrus trees are a bit different from fig trees. One thing citrus and figs have in common is that they need warm temperatures to encourage fruit production and ripening. You don’t need to encourage your citrus trees to go dormant for the winter.

          Citrus trees, being tropical by nature, love regular light (and lots of it!) and balanced moisture (not too much, not too little). They have been known to flower and fruit more than once during the same year and they can often be found flowering while still hanging onto existing fruit as it ripens.

          Is your citrus tree producing fruit and not ripening it in time, or is it not producing fruit at all?

          • Charlie permalink

            It produces one orange a year. LOL Ripens toward end of summer after having been put outside in full sunlight. Still a thrill to eat that single orange. Does seem to blossom twice a year, but the small (ball bearing) sized fruits just drop leaving just the one to ripen. Figs appear to be less testy to raise.

          • Citrus can be finicky, especially when grown in containers. They are prone to drop leaves and fruit at the slightest stress, like too much or too little water or changes in temperature (like when it’s moved indoors from outdoors or vice versa). It’s difficult to provide a consistent growing scenario for citrus unless you live in a consistently warm region or have a greenhouse. :P

  4. Thanks for the great article. I can’t wait to grow my fig!

    • Meg permalink

      You’re very welcome! So good chatting with you tonight in #gardenchat! Best wishes for your figgies. :)

  5. Hi,
    I have a Kadota fig, purchased this sprng and live in zone 7. It is in a large pot sitting on the deck, which is not shaded and faces the north east. It has from 1 to 7 figs on each of the 3 branches. This morning I noticed that many of the leaves are turning yellow and dropping. I checked for aphids, spiders, etc. and see no evidence of pests. Though it is receiving periodic evening rains, which seem to be enough for my other deck plants, could it be it needs more frequenet watering or do you think there is another cause? Also, should I thin the number of figs on each branch (like you would on an apple or pear tree)or leave as is?

    • Great questions, Susan. Did you notice if the yellowing leaves is happening to all the leaves? Or is it just new leaves or just older leaves? If it’s just the older leaves, and the newer leaves are coming in a healthy green color, there may have been some stress that caused the older leaves to yellow and fall. It could have been water-related or temperature-related, but since the new leaves are healthy, your tree is likely gotten over it.

      If it’s affecting all of the leaves, typically this happens when there is a nutrient deficiency in the soil or when the tree is receiving too much water. The frequent rains may be the culprit, so you may want to check and see how saturated the container’s soil is. If it’s retaining a lot of water, you should consider drilling extra holes to drain out the excess water. If you are not fertilizing the fig tree, it might have depleted the nutrients from the soil in its container, so you might want to consider using a well-balanced soil application (10-10-10, for example) every couple weeks during the growing season.

  6. Caroline permalink

    I planted Celeste, Chicago Hardy, and Brown Turkey Figs. Do I prune all of them 1/3 to 1/4 annually or do some figs fruit on old branches like the blackberries?

    • You’ll be happy to know that fig trees need very little pruning in a general setting! Just basic maintenance is all that’s necessary, Caroline. :) If you are keeping your fig in a container, pruning to the size that fits your space best is possible. Figs are fairly forgiving of pruning cuts.

      Most people find that pruning to keep a healthy shape is all that is needed. Celeste, for example, doesn’t require more pruning than the removal of old damaged/diseased limbs and keeping it open to light (remove inward-growing branches). Heavy pruning — like what is recommended for other types of fruits and berries — may actually reduce fruit crops. You should be able to adopt this method for your Chicago Hardy and Brown Turkey Figs as well.

  7. cynthia williams permalink

    Hello and help. I’m in zone 7a and have a Brown Turkey 3 yr old tree that is established outside. She is covered with figs, but they are all green! It is 12 October and I really want to taste a fig. Digging her up and moving her inside is not a option this year, so what can I do? She has grown about four foot in summer 2012 and apperars to be very happy. I will be grateful for any feedback.

    • Hi Cynthia! I am in the same boat as you with my fig trees. Figs require warm temperatures to ripen, and this year, with the tough summer, many fig trees aren’t getting the chance to bring their fruit to maturity.

      If you haven’t been experiencing cold nights or frost there yet, your Brown Turkey Fig tree might have a chance to bring those figs to a ripened state. If there aren’t enough warm days left, chances are the fruit could drop before ripening. If they do drop, it’s not the worst thing, though, since you’ll know that your tree has reached its fruiting maturity, and if next year is more kind, you’ll get more figs!

    • JFS permalink

      Zone 6 here, and they have kept ripening into November, despite a near-freeze and the leaves on other plants turning. If it’s an outdoor tree, try burlap so that they get a better start in the spring. I also started knocking off some of the smaller green figs in late September / early october, so that the tree puts more effort into ripening the bigger ones. Seems to have helped–got about 30 this year, not huge but sweet.

  8. Stevie permalink

    Do you recommend a dwarf plum fruit tree for container planting or a full-size fruit tree that will become dwarfed in a container? I’m in zone 6B and have a greenhouse to winter it.

    • Stevie — since the container your tree is growing in (and pruning!) will restrict the size of the tree, it is really up to you which size tree you plant in it. Keep in mind that, if you ever decide to plant your plum tree in the ground in the future (if you move, give it away as a gift, etc.), you might want to still opt for the dwarf-sized tree if you don’t want one that will grow large. :)

  9. Mike permalink

    Is it to late to root prune my fig trees? they bare lots of figs each year, but they havent been out of the pots for years. I got them from an older gent, who has passed. Dont know what kind they are, but they are dwarfs. I think I will take the one in the smaller pot, and put it in a larger pot, and add compost. As for the big potted one, I would like to root prune, so I might have to wait till winter. thanks

    • Figs don’t require much pruning, except to remove damaged/dead/diseased limbs. As for root pruning, this helps all plants and trees that live the container-life. The most ideal time for this sort of pruning would be in late winter/early spring, while they are still dormant and not producing fruit. This helps to limit as much shock to the trees as possible. :)

  10. Sherry Valenti permalink

    Can you advise me on the steps to transplaning my fig tree to a larger pot (I purchased a whiskey barrel)
    I live in CT and move it into my garage in the winter – I am not sure of the variety but they are about the size of a silver dollar and brown

    Thank you!

    • Hi Sherry! The best time to transplant a fig tree is when it’s dormant, after all the leaves have fallen — late fall, winter, or early spring. Transplanting a potted fig tree should be fairly simple:

      1. Prepare the new container first (drainage holes, rocks or some porous material at the bottom for drainage, add some fresh potting mix to the new container, coco fiber potting medium for water retention and distribution, and so on).

      2. Loosen up the fig tree’s root system within its current container and then remove it. The root ball will remain intact.
      2b. Take this time to shake loose any of the current soil/potting mix from the root system, especially if you have used fertilizer in the containers. Unabsorbed fertilizer can create a salty buildup around the roots and this would be a great opportunity to remove it. You can use a hose to help wash away unwanted soil.
      2c. Sometimes trees grown in containers can become “rootbound” to the container. Their roots will circle and circle and become a tangled mess. This would also be a great time to untangle the roots (pruning minimally, where necessary) so that the roots will spread out in their new container rather than keep the constricted shape of the old container.

      3. Put some fresh potting mix in the bottom of the new container (enough to meet your tree’s root system, so that the tree will be planted the same depth as it was before). Place your fig tree’s roots into the new container. You may need additional help filling in around your tree so that the trunk remains at the same level it was in its last container. Be sure the roots are spread outward so that they are encouraged to grow.

      4. When the fresh potting mix (and tree) fills the new container about half way, water it down so that the mix absorbs water thoroughly.

      5. Fill the container with the rest of the potting mix and pat it down to remove air pockets. Be sure your tree is sturdy in its new home!

      Note: a half whiskey barrel is quite heavy even on its own (empty) and it will be even heavier with the potting medium, water, and a tree inside it. Before assembly, you might consider placing the whole container system on wheels for mobility or have friends or family help you find a safe way to continue to move it into your garage in the winter time for protection.

  11. Pat permalink

    I purchased a brown turkey fig this summer and planted it in a container. It produced well during the summer. I live in NJ so I need to winter the fig in my unheated detached garage. The articles I have been reading make me think that I need to wrap it even in the garage due to dips in the temperature. My problem is we have had to light frosts and it still has leaves and fruit on it. What do I do to winterize it if it still has foliage and fruit?

    • I’m at the same point as you with my potted figs. We had our first frost worth mentioning last night (here in NE Missouri) and my fig tree’s leaves had ice-crystal formations on them. My goal is to move my trees into my unheated garage once the leaves drop.

      As for your fig tree’s fruit, if it hasn’t already, it likely won’t have a chance to ripen now. Figs require warm days and sunlight to ripen. It would be better for the tree’s energy reserves to remove the fruit at this point and let the tree shut down for winter. You can bring the tree into your garage now and let it drop its leaves, or move it in from outdoors after the leaves have fallen. It’s up to you! The light frosts and change in light availability this time of year will have already set the tree’s dormancy into motion.

      I have never bothered to wrap my fig trees, since I bring them indoors. I do still apply a layer of mulch over the container medium/soil to help insulate the roots and retain moisture. I hope this helps!

  12. Mary Farrell permalink

    Because I have no garage or shed, and even if I did, in my Iowa winters an outdoor, unheated stucture would go far, far belwo 32 degrees. Nothing that heavy could ever be carried down steep basement stairs, so I have procrastinated on buying a fig. I have read, however, that the Chicago Hardy can be grown outside in zone 5 and survive brutal winters. It is claimed that even if the tree dies to the ground in winter, it will come back from its roots and produce figs in the summer. What is your experience with this?

    • The Chicago Hardy Fig tree does tend to come back if it is hit with winter damage (as long as the roots are protected), but I’ve had this happen with my Brown Turkey Fig tree as well.

      I think the actual benefit of Chicago Hardy is that it not only comes back, but it also FRUITS on the new growth that comes back that year, after winter damage. That I can attest to. I was caught off guard and pleasantly surprised that my tree came back and gave me a few figs when it was 2 feet tall.

    • JFS permalink

      Brown turkey is hardy to well below freezing–the roots are fine down to -5 Farenheit or lower; the branches can suffer from heating / thawing and wind damage, so they take more of a beating outdoors. Trees are not hot-blooded. Wrapping offers protection from temperature extremes and from wind, primarily. It won’t do anything for a tree that’s in a dark garage.

  13. Valerie permalink

    I am in Indiana, zone 5b/6a. I bought a fig in the spring and it grew beautifully over the summer. With the colder temps this past month I moved it to my unheated sun porch, which my potted citrus trees love because it doesn’t really get much below 55 and gets morning sun on the east side of the house. I moved the fig in there with them. Does it really need a dormant period with a lower temp and/or no sunlight? How long does the dormant period need to be? Is cold or lack of sunlight more important? If I left it outside in future years until it dropped its leaves and then moved it to the sun porch for the harshest part of the winter, would that be better?

    • Fig trees, unlike citrus trees, do require and benefit from a dormancy period to rest, store energy, and bear fruit. They don’t need very long (only about 100 to 200 chill hours).

      My porch is unheated, but it has sunny windows on half of the walls, so it’s far from dark; however, my fig trees manage to stay dormant through the winter. The dark is intended to mimic the winter sun, which is less intense/direct than sun during the growing season, so a little light is fine but you don’t need to go out of your way to give it a sunny window — your citrus trees would rather have that spot anyway! :)

      • Valerie permalink

        Thanks for the timely information! I moved my fig back outside for a week in early November when I read this. It dropped its leaves, and I moved it inside before it got too cold. It’s tucked into a safe corner of the sunroom and will hopefully leaf out next spring and continue growing just as beautifully.

  14. Angelina permalink

    I bought a Brown Turkey Fig tree this past summer, and potted it. We got some great fruit, but here in Ohio the winter is starting to set in. I don’t have a garage or an unheated indoor area, and the winters are too cold to leave the plant outside. What should I do? Should I bring it inside our warm house for the winter? I also have a covered back porch that receives very little sunlight, but is not enclosed or protected from the elements. Please help!!!

    • For maintaining dormancy in most fruit trees, it’s better to have cool temperatures, between 32-45ºF — you don’t have to worry as much about having a totally dark place, since the winter sun won’t keep your fig trees awake. The temperatures can be cooler than this every so often, but if they are going to drop to 10ºF or below, you may need to wrap your trees (burlap, straw) for insulation.

      I don’t know the extent of the harsh winter* your back porch experiences, especially since it’s covered, but a combination of keeping your potted fig tree protected on the porch and bringing it indoors when winter really sets in will be the fig tree’s best bet in your case.

      *winters consisting of dry, windy, cold and temperatures in the single digits and below are more harsh and harmful to a fig tree than winters with a lot of snowy days.

  15. Paul permalink

    Quick question. How often do you have to water the fig trees once they are inside the containers?

    • Paul permalink

      And are also indoors.

    • You only need to water your indoor potted fig trees when the soil is dry to the touch, an inch or two below the soil surface. They won’t be growing, so they won’t be taking in water steadily like they would during the growing season. They won’t need a lot of water when you do water them, either, just enough to provide some moisture for the roots.

  16. Jesse bacon permalink

    My fig tree is planted in the ground how should I protect it for the winter it’s a brown turkey fig and I live in zone 7a some articles I’ve read said they were hardy till 10 degrees and don’t need to be wrapped

    • If this will be your fig tree’s first winter in the ground, you should at the very least apply a few inches of mulch/leaf-compost on the ground around the tree. This should cover where the root system resides under ground to insulate the roots. Make sure to leave some space between the mulch/leaf-compost and the trunk to avoid issues like rodent damage.

      You can wrap your fig tree as well. First, get some soft twine and use it to wrap around the branches of the tree, so that all the branches are brought closer together, giving you a more confined space to work with. You can use dry straw to fill in the space of the center of the tree (in where the trunk and branches meet) to create more insulation, and finally cover the whole thing with a tarp to keep it dry. There are variations on covering your fig trees, and since there are several ways to do it right, it’s best to choose one that works for you. Most of the fig-growers who wrap their fig trees for the winter are growing their trees in the ground in zones 5 and 6 (a bit cold for fig trees), so you probably won’t need to go to any extremes covering them unless your winter is expected to be harsh.

      Most people save the effort of covering fig trees for the spring when the tree might be waking up, but frosts are still in the weather forecast. In the spring, you help protect those tender buds from late frost by wrapping the trees, covering them in fabric sheets, or even stringing holiday lights around them for additional warmth.

      If your fig tree has already survived winters in the ground before, you shouldn’t have to do anything differently — again, unless your winter is predicted to be a harsh one.

  17. Marie permalink

    I have often seen that plants should be brought into an unheated space for the winter – at a temperature about 35 to 45degrees. I would like to know where people get this type of space in zone 5, or any zone where plants would need to be brought in. When it gets down to 20 degrees or lower, the garage and any unheated space also matches that temp.

    Also, a question: I have had a Brown Turkey fig for about 6 years. It gets a lot of figs – is planted outside – but they stay very small and rarely get ripe. What is missing?

    • Perhaps the temperature depends on the insulation in the unheated space. Although I admit that the temperatures don’t conveniently stay between 32-45ºF, my garage is notoriously warmer than the outdoors here in zone 5b/6a, even though it’s unheated and has spaces where wind and other things get in. As long as the temperatures stay within 20-50ºF it’s fine. Trees are mostly able to avoid frost and harsh winter elements by being inside the garage, which is essential.

      Figs require warmth and sun to ripen. Is it possible your cold temperatures are setting in before the fruit is able to ripen? This can be problematic in northern zones, especially if the tree isn’t planted in a location with a southern exposure.

      I’ve heard that you can “force” a fig fruit to ripen by applying a small amount of vegetable oil to the little hole at the end of the fig fruit (often called the eye) once the fruit’s inner flesh has changed to a pink color. It seems you would have to sacrifice one fruit to open and see if the color is there. I’ve never had to try this, but it’s supposed to ripen within a few days of applying the oil. It heavily depends on timing, but I would think it’s worth a shot if you’re not getting many ripe figs as it is.

  18. Paula Gilmore permalink

    I received 2 baby fig trees as a gift this summer and put them in pots outside with my lemon and key lime trees, also in pots. My citrus trees are 3 years old and do well in my quilt studio over the winter so when I brought them inside just before frost I brought the fig trees also. My mistake! And thank goodness for email updates from Stark Bro’s. My garage stays about 45 in winter and has low light, but how do I know when and how much to water the fig trees? Each little fig tree produced about 6 figs – should I have removed them so the trees could grow? (BTW, I live in zone 5B and never thought I would be able to grow citrus trees but my lemon and lime both bloom 2 or 3 times a year. I have a nice crop of lemons just ripened and a tree full of growing limes. My family, who all thought I was a little nuts, are now enjoying my citrus fruit!)

    • Congratulations on your citrus success! They can really be tricky, so growing figs should be a breeze for you. :)

      The garage sounds like a good place to keep your fig trees, although you didn’t do them any harm bringing them in with your citrus trees before frost. When you water potted trees, especially during the winter, be sure that the soil is dry to the touch a couple inches below the soil surface. This way, you won’t accidentally overwater the trees, since they’re not really taking in as much water as they would while they’re growing.

      When a fruit tree is setting fruit, it often stops growing to use its energy for sustaining the fruit. This is why it’s ideal to remove fruit from young, not-yet established, fruit trees, so that they can get their roots in and adequate leaves on, before setting fruit. Something to keep in mind for the future! :)

  19. William permalink

    I have what I believe is 15 gal or 20 gal mineral tubs the ranchers use out on the range to feed there cattle. What I want to know is can I put the Fig trees in them and then put them in the greenhouse for the winter? It usually gets into the teens here in Oklahoma and some times single digit in the winter. There will be no heat in the greenhouse other than the sun.

    • Personally, I don’t know if I’d use those mineral tubs for my fruit trees, since they are intended to add minerals to cattle diets. It’s nice that they’re often weather-proof, but I don’t know how the minerals in the structure of the tubs would affect my tree’s nutrient intake. Call me paranoid :)

      I guess if you were going to use them, be sure that they have an adequate amount of drainage holes, so that the roots aren’t in standing water and you aren’t left with root rot or other issues attributed to poor drainage.

      If the temperature in your greenhouse also gets into single digits, you should consider wrapping the tops of the fig trees in burlap, with some dry straw as insulation, or protecting them in a similar way, so that they don’t get winter-zapped.

  20. Bob Herbert permalink

    I would try a few things to help a fig tree’s chances a make mature fruit in a growing season; place the planter in the corner of a south/east corner of a stockade fence, have a dark back ground to absorb as much lt. as possible and place the tree between two large accent stones which would give off absorbed heat in the evening. Stone walls work great with watermelons! Were trying to boost the heat degree days as much as possible here in N.H. Bob

  21. Sima permalink

    I am considering of growing Brown Turkey Fig here in zone 4. Since I live in such cold area I will grow fig in the pot. I was thinking to store my fig plant for winter inside greenhouse (I have very limited space in the garage). Greenhouse is not heated for most part of the winter, but night temps don’t fall below 15F and I read that brown figs do ok down to 5F. My concern is that during sunny days greenhouse temps does get sometimes up to 80F. I would like your opinion if fig would tolerate such night-day temperature fluctuation?

    • Good question, Sima! To maintain the dormant state of your fig tree, it will need winter temperatures to be somewhere between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Slightly colder than freezing won’t do any lasting damage, but if the temperatures get to 10ºF and below, you will need additional winter protection for your tree.

      While the greenhouse sounds like a good place to keep your container fig tree to protect from low winter temperatures, 80ºF is too warm during the sunny days to maintain a consistent dormant state. The warm temperatures combined with sunlight may cause the tree to wake from its dormancy prematurely. When the tree wakes, it will open its buds (thinking it’s spring), and the tender growth may be at risk of winter injury when the temperatures drop again.

      If it’s possible to move the fig tree just outside of the greenhouse on the days where it gets very warm inside, that might be the way to go. I had to do this with my container peach trees this winter, only for the opposite reason: our temperatures have been unusually cold on several days, too cold for peach buds, so I’ve had to move the peaches inside the garage for protection.

  22. Kristine permalink

    When should I think about moving my potted Chicago Hardy fig tree outside? Should I wait until the last frost date (which is usually around the second week of May here in Nebraska) or should I do it sooner?

    • Good question Kristine! I am pondering the same about my fig trees, since they’re already starting to leaf out indoors. I plan to wait until the last frost date just because I can. Frost will damage the leaves a little if you move them out beforehand, but they’ll put on new leaves. Since fruit is really what has sensitivity to the cold, if your Chicago Hardy Fig tree is already developing fruit (it can happen!) I would definitely recommend keeping it inside until after the last frost date. The trees aren’t going to do a lot of growing in the few weeks we have to wait, and we get to enjoy the green indoors in the meantime. :)

  23. frederick capozzi permalink

    IM purchasing 2 fig trees a brown turkey and a celestie. i live in zone 3b temps this winter got down to a -30 degrees this winter will be in the top 5 coldest. I plan on bringing trees inside putting them in basement but the temps get no colder than 57 what problems will they have for winterizing?

    • Wow! And I thought our winter was cold this year. We had windchill into the negative 30s, but that was the extreme.

      If you plant your fig trees in containers, you will be able to overwinter them in your basement for protection from the winter elements. Just make sure that, when the soil is dry to the touch an inch or two below the surface, you give them a little water to sustain them. They won’t need a lot since they’re not going to be growing, but you don’t want the soil to become completely dry around the roots either.

      My fig trees are growing in containers on my unheated porch where it still gets into the 30s and they come back every year!

  24. frederick capozzi permalink

    what about getting enough cold hours? lets say they get 200 cold hours before december i bring them down in the basement where the temps will get no lower than 57 degrees. they will be there in the basement till middle april is that a problem for them?

    • That sounds fine! Fig trees don’t need many chill hours (time where temperatures are between 32ºF and 45ºF), usually 100-200 hours is sufficient for fruit production. I don’t think my container-grown fig trees get any more than that, and I’ve gotten fruit from them. :)

      My only concern is that they may not be encouraged to maintain a dormant sleep for very long in 57ºF temperatures. That is actually rather warm, so they may be inclined to wake. As long as they are dormant for their chill hours time before being in the 57ºF location, they should still be productive.

  25. Scott Schulte permalink

    Hi I bought my fig tree (Chicago Hardy) from y’all 4/12/14. Its still in a dark cool place in the basement (dormant) but I want to put it in a container this coming weekend and get it out side. What do y’all recommend for a potting mix? The things I am seeing online don’t make sense to me “sand, peat and perlite”. Where is the thing going to get nutrition if its not in dirt. I bought a big block of coco coir at the same time to mix in with dirt for the peach tree and have lots left so I would like to somehow use that in the container mix if I can.

    • Good question, Scott! Most container-grown trees thrive in soilless potting medium mixed with things like sand, peat, perlite, coir, etc. to evenly distribute water without holding too much or too little (with the help of adequate drainage holes in your container). In addition to preparing this mixture for your tree’s roots to settle in, it’s recommended that you provide nutrients in the form of compost tea, manure tea, or water-soluble fertilizer so that the roots can take it in. Many types of potting media have fertilizer “built in” so all you need to do is water in order for the nutrients to be absorbed by the roots. This mimics how ground soil works in relation to roots planted in the ground.

      I’ll reference an excerpt on hydroponics that might help clear things up:

      “Researchers discovered in the 18th century that plants absorb essential mineral nutrients as inorganic ions in water. In natural conditions, soil acts as a mineral nutrient reservoir but the soil itself is not essential to plant growth. When the mineral nutrients in the soil dissolve in water, plant roots are able to absorb them. When the required mineral nutrients are introduced into a plant’s water supply artificially, soil is no longer required for the plant to thrive. Almost any terrestrial plant will grow with hydroponics. Hydroponics is also a standard technique in biology research and teaching.” — Hydroponics || I hope this helps! :)

      Personally, I used a combination of coir, aged manure, and soilless potting medium for my container-grown fruit trees (including figs!) and I will be adding nutrients in the form of fertilizer throughout the growing season every year.

  26. Dale Jessen permalink

    I have to fig trees in my yard. One planted four years ago and the other three years. The very cold winter, Charlottesville, va had a devastating effect. The new wood from last year appears to be dead and buds at the top are dry. I have some new growth but only at the very bottom. Also, I now have the little worms borrowing into the lower large stem just above ground.
    Is there anything I can do to save them. Help.

    • The good news is, fig tree varieties tend to grow on their own roots, so the growth that is coming back should be true to the variety you planted.

      You can help them along by providing organic matter or other water-soluble fertilizer (if you’re not already) and getting rid of their pest issue: pruning away the winter-damaged wood and what the worms have damaged (if you can) and spraying for pests will be a tremendous help eliminated unneeded stress.

      There are some natural pesticides like hot pepper wax, neem oil, and insecticidal soap that you can use without worrying about contaminating your environment with chemicals. I hope this helps!

  27. Connie permalink

    I have a brown turkey fig that has been growing in a large pot for about 5 years. I keep it inside during winter months. This spring it looked well with lots of figs on it and one of the branches growing to about 6-ft. That growth, however, stopped and figs did not grow much; instead, they just softened as if they were ripe and some were. What is going on? I did use MiracleGrow fertilizer that I use on my flowers. I probably used it 3 or 4 times. Would that be the culprit?

    One of my thoughts is maybe I can transplant it in the ground on the south side of the house and cover it during winter months. I live in zone 5. Would I be able to do that?

    Your opinion if very much appreciated.

    • Is this the first year your Brown Turkey fig tree has fruited at all, or has it fruited normally in past years and this year is just unusual? It’s difficult to say what might have caused it to stop growing the fruit, but it’s more than likely caused by stress. Water stress (not enough water) is the most common cause of fruit-related issues, even fruit drop, especially in container-grown trees. Be sure to provide consistent watering if it hasn’t been raining there, but be sure not to OVER water either. The soil doesn’t need to be constantly soaked, but keep it from drying out. Another common stress is lack of nutrients, but since you’ve been applying fertilizer, that’s likely not the case.

      You may have more difficulty trying to protect your fig tree from winter injury there by planting it in the ground, since winter and cold temperatures (especially in early spring when they’ve already leafed-out or started to fruit) are certainly a stress factor for fig trees.

      If you still want to try growing a fig tree in the ground, I might recommend a variety like Chicago Hardy fig instead, since it’s notorious for growing back from the root if it’s injured in the winter and it is a precocious (early) bearer of figs. I grow both Chicago Hardy and Brown Turkey in containers and, after 3 years, Chicago Hardy is the only one that has produced figs with no issue. I’m in zone 5b.

  28. Kelly permalink

    My potted fig tree seems to be sprouting little babies at the base of the soil. What is the best way to transplant them into another container to share with friends?

    • Hi Kelly! My fig tree is doing the same thing. I tried just cutting off the little sprouts and sticking them in some soil, but they just wilted and died. I think what you’ll have to do is get a rooting hormone (you can find this at your local garden supply store, or find a recipe online to make your own with ingredients like willow bark) and apply that to the cutting you make to try to encourage it to develop roots.

      Propagation is definitely a skill that I haven’t developed yet ;)

  29. Laurie permalink

    Hi. I have a fig tree growing in a container that I would like to pot up. It currently has some fruit on it and it has never produced before. So I was wondering if I should wait to transplant it or if it would be fine to do right away. I’m a little scared to risk it.

    • Congratulations on your first fig crop! I harvested my first ripe fig last week and it was amazing. :)

      I would definitely recommend waiting until after you harvest the fruit before moving your fig tree to a larger container. The tree isn’t going to do much growing while it has fruit on it, so you won’t have to worry about waiting too long in that regard. If you transplant it now, chances are good that the stress of being moved, along with the stress of bearing fruit, will overwhelm the fig tree and it will probably drop the fruit before it can ripen it.

      Transplanting, even when potting up, is best when the weather cools, and the trees are dormant, since then they’re less prone to respond negatively to stress factors.

      • Mark L Yurkiw permalink

        I have a Stark brown turkey potted in a ten gallon pot for 4 years growing nicely (5ft) BUT not fruiting. Outside (southern expo.) all “good” months, inside (living room 68 degrees) all frost months. what can I do to encourage fruit?

        • Cool winter temperatures and being dormant are actually important to fruiting in trees like fig trees. If possible this fall/winter, when frosts typically set in, try moving your tree into an unheated garage, shed, basement, or some place that stays dark and cool (above freezing, but not quite as warm as 68ºF — somewhere in the low- to mid-40s would be ideal). This should help it rest up and encourage it to fruit.

          Another thing to consider is, if your tree’s roots are not filling the container it is planted in, it will put its energy into growing roots, branches, leaves, etc. first. Once its roots meet the edges of the container, it will think it has maximized its space and it will put energy into fruiting instead. I hope this helps ! :)

  30. Rebecca permalink

    I have one of your chicago hardy figs. I planted it in a container this spring when you sent it. I did not prune at all, so it is about 5′ high. The lower 3 feet are brown, the upper 2′ is bright green with bud looking growths emerging above the crotch where each leaf is attached to the main trunk. But it is all one trunk. Should I prune now while the is time to sprout out more branches? I’m guessing we have 2-4 more weeks before our leaves fall.I live in utah and would like to plant this In the ground In The spring. Should I keep it as a container or put it in a well sheltered sunny spot next year.?

    • I wouldn’t recommend trying to force new growth this late in the season, since anything that the tree sends out between now and frost will be at risk of injury. There isn’t time for the tree to benefit from developing new growth this close to fall anyway. If you want to prune it back a little, I would recommend that you wait until the tree is fully dormant. The new growth that sprouts in spring, when it wakes up again, will be able to benefit the tree. As it gets older, you’ll see more branching develop, so don’t worry that it’s “all trunk” its first year. :)

      You can certainly keep it in its container until spring when you plan to plant it in the ground if fig trees are typically grown in the ground there. You can plan on keeping it in the container instead if your winters might be too harsh for a fig tree. In this case, you can move the tree indoors to an unheated location (garage, shed, basement, etc.) for protection from harsh winter elements and just move it outdoors when the threat of frost has passed.

  31. Kathleen permalink

    I live in Hobe Sound, FL. and just bought a Brown Turkey Fig. She is still quite small so it is in a small pot for now. other than water and sun, is there anything I need to do for now????

    • That should be good for a while! Fig trees are fairly easy-going; they don’t even require much pruning except to remove any dead/damaged branches or unwanted growth low on the trunk.

      Make sure you don’t overwater the tree, though. “Too much water” can be just as harmful as “not enough water”, so try to only water when the soil is dry to the touch and your fig tree should be happy. :)

  32. Susan permalink

    Bought a brown turkey fig tree early this summer. Bore several figs throughout the summer, although several fell off before I could pick them. The few I did get to taste were rather tasteless, though they looked quite nice. Hints?

    • The new tree may have been too eager to fruit – usually a tree should have time to become established in its new environment before it is allowed to set fruit. When a tree sets fruit, it puts its energy into that and if its reserves were low from the start, it won’t be able to produce a quality fruit crop. Dropping fruit is a tree’s way of shedding what it is unable to support.

      Allowing a tree to establish itself and have a good system of food storage and nutrient intake will improve fruit quality going forward. You should expect to see improvements in your new fig tree’s fruit as it gets established.

      You can help improve the quality of the fruit you harvest by thinning the fruit if your fig tree sets another heavy crop. Just remove a few of the smaller fruits and make sure the fruit you leave isn’t near the soil level and isn’t crowded by other fruit. Space things out a bit. You can read more about the benefits of thinning fruit trees here.

  33. Anne permalink

    I just bought a Chicago Hardy fig tree for my apartment (and it came with a few small fruit already!). Two questions:

    1) I have a porch right now I can set it on to live until it gets cold and I can bring it in (I live in Zone 7), but I anticipate moving apartments within the year and I can’t guarantee I’ll have an outdoor space for it at the new place. Will it be okay living indoors all year long in that case?

    2) I’ve read that overwintering is healthy for figs, but since I live in an apartment that’s kept at a cozy 73-74F at all times, I can’t truly overwinter it. Is that a problem? This winter I can leave it outside unless it gets too cold, but again, after I move I might have no outside place to keep it, so I kind of want to start training it to live indoors year-round.

    • The indoor environment doesn’t have much of what a fig tree naturally prefers from the outdoor environment, like sunlight and humidity. I’m not saying it’s not possible to grow the tree indoors year-round, but it’s not ideal. It may simply require extra effort on your part, just like container-grown trees require a bit more effort (like in watering and repotting) than a tree planted in the ground needs. If you can keep the tree in a place that you control the light (less in winter) and the humidity (humidifier?), then that would be better than hoping the tree will be adaptable to your indoor environment.

  34. I have a 10 month fig tree which I started from a branch in 1/2014. I don’t know what type it is but its 26″ in height. I live in Hawthorne, New York in a condo which is pretty warm in the winter months 78 to 80F. Can I keep it outside on my patio if I were to wrap it up to keep warm? I don’t know exactly how much to wrap it up. My father had a fig tree in the Bronx, New York (in the ground of course) and he would wrap it up with blankets and top it off with a bucket on the top for the winter. In the spring he would unwrap it and it used to produce lots of large green figs with a light sage green inside. I don’t have anyone close to shelter it in the garage. What do you suggest. Nina

    • I think your father’s method sounds pretty clever, Nina – and it obviously worked for him! If you can mimic that, I’d recommend it.

      Another option would be to get one of those small tomato cages and stick it into the pot your fig tree is in and stuff the cage with straw as insulation for the tree, if you can get straw (not hay). If not, you can try wrapping the tree with holiday string lights and turn them on at night for the ambient warmth they give off (without risk of fire or burning your fig tree). And you can even cover the cage with blankets to make a heat-trapping shelter over your fig tree.

      There isn’t really one surefire way to overwinter a fig tree in a container on a porch, but as long as you keep it warm and insulated from the cold, your tree will do well! :)

  35. Matt permalink

    Hi. I just received 2 bare root 2 yr old Chicago hardy figs in the mail and was planning on potting them for overwintering in my garage. (today’s date 10/9/14). I live in Colorado (in USDA zone 6A) and was wondering if I can plant them outside come spring time and leave them there through the winter or if I’d be better served leaving them in pots and just moving them outside in the spring and in my garage to winter them. Thanks.

    • Even hardier fig trees like Chicago Hardy thrive and fruit where it’s warmer, so planting them in the ground may not be ideal if your location regularly receives temperatures below freezing in the colder parts of the year.

      I’d feel better recommending that you plant your fig trees in containers so that you can move them into your garage during the late fall/winter/early spring when temperatures and other cold-weather elements can become stress factors. It’s always better to aim for the optimum when it comes to growing fruit trees so that you have the best chance at success! :)

  36. Chris permalink

    My Celeste Fig tree suffered from the winter of 2013-14. This spring Many (38!) new fig trees popped up along its root system. May I remove and pot some of these smaller fig trees in the autumn, and then re-plant them in spring of 2015?
    If so, How do I do this? Thank you for all of your advice!
    We bought the Mama fig tree from Stark Bros!! : )

  37. Elizabeth permalink

    Hi there! I live in zone 7a and have a Petite Negri in a 15 gallon container. I bought it this summer and it now stands at 4ft and is lanky and branch-less. There are leaves along the trunk but no branches to speak off. I have no idea what to prune and Im wondering if there is anything wrong with it. Did I get a dud? Also, will I need to overwinter indoors or are winters in my zone ok to leave it outdoors?

    • Fig trees growing outdoors may need winter protection if your temperatures frequently drop below freezing there. If you’re going to plant outdoors in the ground, your best bet would be to plant your Petite Negri fig tree near a sunny wall so it gets the most warmth possible from sun exposure, even during winter. I’ve seen that particular variety is hardy for zones 7-9 and 8-10, so you’re essentially the coldest recommended hardiness zone for Petite Negri – but it’s best to go for the optimum, so planting in a container would give you more control over how much winter exposure the tree gets.

      Also, in regard to the branching, fig trees can sometimes be peculiar like that. I have 4 Brown Turkey fig trees growing in containers and not one of them has grown like the rest. One started out like yours, a leafy stick, but it is more branching now. Your tree probably just needs more time to develop. There isn’t much to prune, so I would recommend just letting it grow for now.

  38. Rich permalink

    Hello – I have a couple of container growing Fig trees. Turkey & Chicago Hardy. Is the suggestion of 32-45 degrees I’m seeing above hard and fast? My unheated garage in Denver may be getting colder than that. I mean when it hits 5-10 degrees outside I’d guess it hist 20 in the garage. Thoughts?


    PS – Can I wrap them(like I’ve seen in some NYC patio examples) or cover with a big tarp?

    • Hi Rich – good question, and I’ve pondered the same myself. Really, those fig trees are hardier than that, but it’s a general “safe and not sorry” range. My fig trees (same varieties you have) are on my unheated porch over winter that definitely gets below 32. They’ve survived 3 years of this now, so I think your garage will do fine.

      Brown Turkey fig isn’t as hardy as Chicago Hardy, and Brown Turkey’s description says, “Tree needs protection* when temperatures drop below 10ºF.” As long as you keep the soil in the containers damp (not saturated) when the temperatures are expected to get to freezing or below, things should be fine.

      *Protection, in the form of wrapping the trunks with some burlap, will help insulate – especially if you also put a layer of straw between the trunks and the burlap. The tarp would be more effective if your trees were being left outdoors, since the tarp would help repel precipitation (except at the soil level, where the roots can benefit from the water).

  39. Hello every one:

    I am new to this, however, I just bought a fig tree, and 2 olives, and one pomegranate. I leave in the Atlanta area. However, it is the first half of November, and all the sudden it got very cold here this week, and I am not sure if I should plant them out side or just keep them in a pots until the weather get better.

    I am currently keeping them in pots inside the house by the window, and I just noticed that the leaves are falling. I am not sure why. is it because of the falls season, is it they because they are getting enough sun? I am just no sure as I am novice.

    The olives, I just got them today, I put them in pots in the garage and I am not sure what to do with them next.

    Please advise what should I do. Should I keep them all the in the garage with no access to sun, or you have another advice.


    • Hi Al – it sounds like we are growing the same fruit trees in containers! :) I have my fig trees, olive tree, and pomegranate tree planted in containers on my covered, unheated porch. I just got my pomegranate this year and it’s small and has lost all of its leaves as well by now.

      My trees get sunlight through the windows, but not a full 6-8 hours. The cooler temperatures of the unheated porch, mixed with less sun/light exposure, will help lull the trees into dormancy so they can rest through the winter.

      Come spring, when the temperatures warm again and the risk of frost has passed, I will move these trees outdoors so that they can warm and wake up with nature.

      You can do the same with your trees in your unheated garage.

      • Thank you very much Sarah for answering my question. I just wanted to mentioned that my garage does not get sun at all. Is it OK, or I just have to the trees out every day to the backyard?


        • You can move the trees out of the garage from time to time, but you don’t need to do so daily unless of course you just want to. Over winter, my trees that I’ve moved into my garage see light when I’m opening and closing the garage door and they don’t seem to mind. :)

          • Thank you very much for your Help :-)

  40. Bob Licari permalink

    It’s now November when would be the best time to order and pot-plant a fig tree? What variety would produce the and abundant and sweetest figs? /what’s your opinion on the so called “white figs” which are really a pale light 6green.

    • The best time to plant depends on where you’re located, Bob. If you’re in a northern zone (colder half of zone 5 or even further north) we’d recommend waiting until spring to plant. If you’re in a warmer zone, like zone 6 and south, you can still order and plant this fall. We wrap up our fall-shipping season at the end of November, so you still have a few days left!

      I would have to recommend the Chicago Hardy fig tree – it’s been the most productive variety for me! I can’t say I’ve tried the white, pale figs before, but I know several people who enjoy them, although they’ve admitted to preferring the darker “purple” figs.

  41. Pat permalink

    Last year I lost my brown turkey fig that I brought into my detached garage due to the crazy bad winter. This year I decided to bring the ne fig plant in but now it is sprouting leaves. Do I water it sparingly like it is dormant or water more? Yikes. I don’t want to lose this one too! I think it got too much light even though it isn’t direct. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Fig trees love the warmth, so if your tree is already trying to grow it was likely a combination of light and temperature that wasn’t low enough to keep it dormant – which isn’t something to worry about; however, the tree isn’t dormant if it’s leafing out, so it won’t work to try to water it as if it is still resting.

      Water supports the tree’s developed leaves, so I’d recommend watering whenever the soil/medium the fig tree is growing in is dry to the touch a couple inches below the surface. It shouldn’t need more than that, especially growing indoors. You get to enjoy a lovely bit of green during the winter, but you might want to give the cool, dark place a try again in future winters – as long as they’re not expected to be as harsh as winter 2013-2014!

  42. Pat permalink

    Thanks Sarah. Since the fig was dormant for only a few months will this effect the amount of figs it will produce this year?

    • It might, but my sister who lives in Florida has a fig tree that rarely goes dormant and has a hefty fig harvest every year. It’s likely a varietal thing, so I’d watch and see how your fig tree fruits this year – it’s the best way to really know!

  43. Mike permalink

    I have two Celeste fig trees, they have produced outdoors for several year in containers. We live in Connecticut, hard freezes are the norm in the winter. This year, I moved them to our unheated basement. I water sparingly, yet the trees leafed out and have set fruit. I am tempted to remove the fruit and let nature take its corse on the leaves. Thoughts?

    • Some fig trees seem to have a mind of their own and leaf and fruit when light and temperature don’t seem conducive, and Celeste is a prime example. It will likely fruit again in the summer, so you can go ahead and pluck the fruit now. That will let the fig tree reserve its energy for production when it’s back outdoors in the warmth and the sun that help create a more sweet and flavorful fruit anyway.

  44. Kate permalink

    I have a brown turkey fig here in Iowa which has been in the same big pot since 2006. It is produces figs no problem, but has so many long dangling, tangled branches, and a couple suckers coming out of the base of the trunk. Not sure how to prune it, but I want to as it is structurally ugly. I do have to keep it short, about 7-8′ total because I overwinter in the marginally heated basement. How do you recommend I prune this monster?

    • I have a couple fig trees that I deem unfit to photograph, so I know what you mean, Kate! ;)

      Remove the suckers for sure, and prune to remove any branches that are growing at weak, narrow angles. This will help give the fig tree more of a “tree” appearance while also making it more structurally sound. You can prune the long dangling branches back a bit, especially the ones that are tangled and rubbing together. Choose the most problematic branches and trim them back to one of the bumps in the branch, since this is a bud that will sprout new growth, invigorated by pruning. You can do this to keep the tree at the height you need to move it, too, just try to prune while the fig tree is dormant to limit stress to the tree. And be sure to use sharp, clean pruners to make the cuts so that the fig tree has an easy time healing over the pruning site.

  45. Lori permalink

    I live on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada (zone 9a) and would love a fig tree. I don’t have an unheated basement etc to winter the tree in but I do have a covered porch. If I moved the container up onto the porch, against the house would that be an ok place to winter it??

    • Do you happen to have an idea of how cold it gets on your covered porch? That would be the best way to know if it’s a good place to keep your container-grown fig tree or not. Most cold-hardy fig trees can take temperatures below freezing without too much risk of injury. Some, with protection from things like wind, can even tolerate temperatures down to 10F/-12C — but not for extended periods of time.

  46. Marc permalink

    I have a container fig (don’t know the variety) that is very leggy. All the foliage is at the too of its two trunks, starting at ~5′ high. How and when should I prune it?

    • Your tree sounds almost exactly like mine, yours is just a bit taller! I never thought there was anything wrong with its appearance, and it eventually developed vegetative growth lower on the trunks without pruning (probably responding to fertilizer instead).

      If you want to prune to encourage more branching for a “bushier” fig tree, wait until the tree is dormant (loses its leaves) and prune back to healthy buds lower on the trunks. The pruning will stimulate those buds to break when the tree wakes up for the growing season and also encourage more vegetative growth below the pruning cut. If the tree is already leafed out, you may need to wait to prune until it’s dormant again. In the meantime, you may want to consider fertilizing during the growing season (stopping by July) to encourage vegetative growth as well.

  47. Dana permalink

    Should I remove fig fruits before tree reaches it’s full size? I have read that it’s recommended for other fruit trees.

    • Goodness no — if I removed the figs before my trees reached their mature size, I’d never get any figs! ;) What you’ve probably heard is to remove the flowers or small fruit from trees or berry plants that have just been planted. They need that first year or so to establish their roots, not send out flowers and fruit.

      If your fig trees are newly planted, and they’re sending out fruit already, then yes, pinch that fruit off while it’s still small so your tree can devote its energy to root development. If your fig trees have been planted for some time, you can certainly let them fruit, even if they haven’t reached their full mature height yet.

      • Dana permalink

        newly planted you mean from a bag, if it’s just moving to bigger pot it doesn’t count?

        • Newly planted can mean from a bigger pot too. When you disturb the roots, they need to settle in again before being allowed to fruit. This can affect whether a tree fruits that same year or the next.

  48. Dana permalink

    I have another questions:
    1.Which of these two varieties is better for hardiness 10?
    2. Should I bye dwarf tree to plant it in 2.5 feet pot or regular tree which is claimed to grow to 10-15′? (I prefer higher tree)

    Thank you

    • I’m not sure which varieties you’re asking about, but they should have their hardiness zones included in their descriptions. For example…

      Brown Turkey Fig Tree = Zones 5-9
      Celeste Fig Tree = Zones 6-9

      Chicago Hardy Fig Tree = Zones 5-10
      LSU Gold Fig Tree = Zones 7-10
      LSU Purple Fig Tree = Zones 7-10

      If it includes zone 10, and you’re in zone 10, then you should be fine. Go by which ones sound better to you after that. :)

      Growing in a container will restrict the tree size as well, keeping the tree smaller than its mature height, depending on the pot size. If you want a taller tree, then you should opt to grow a non-dwarf tree, even in a container.

  49. Day Smith permalink

    I’m so glad to have found this! I grew up with a Mission fig in Los Angeles and now live in Salt Lake City. My mom brought my a lovely Brown Turkey who is growing its foliage in my living room and getting some daylight on the front porch right now! But having the tips on how to care for it is priceless. I’m hesitant about the total dark dormancy. That’s new to me (ok all this winter planting is…). We have a root cellar that is dark and cool. I look forward to parking her in there over next winter and giving this a go. Thank you for all this information!

    • You’re very welcome! I come from South Florida, so this dormancy business is new to me too, but it has worked so far in my experience! I have an unheated porch where I keep my potted fig trees and they’re going on their third or fourth year now — getting fruit too! :)

  50. keith emard permalink

    I live in South Florida can I Plant Fig plants in The Ground ,i see everything is About Leaving in the pots ???

    • Most people don’t have the luxury of growing fig trees in the ground, but depending on the heat tolerance of the variety you’d like to plant, you should be able to plant it straight in the ground there. Figs are heat-loving trees! My sister (in Tallahassee) has a stately fig tree growing behind her apartment and it fruits there.

  51. Kim permalink

    In reading the comments it says to put the potted trees into an unheated garage. Here in Michigan, it can get to -15 degrees in the winter. Needless to say, the garage will get that cold as well. Is there any precautions I need to take if placed in the unheated garage when the temperatures are consistently below zero?

    • Sarah permalink

      If you have a better unheated, cool, dark place than a garage that works too. My garage isn’t the most “sealed” structure and it still stays significantly warmer* even when the temperatures are below freezing outdoors. It definitely doesn’t have the sun and ice to deal with and these are some of the biggest problems!

      *example: this winter, the outside temps were in the single-digits and my garage was in the high-20s, low 30s. Not heated and not insulated, but still warmer than outside.

      If you don’t have any other choice but to store the trees in the garage, you can wrap them in holiday string lights for safe, ambient warmth and insulate the pots as much as possible. Still keep the soil around the roots damp so that they are less likely to be damaged by cold temperatures. You might even be better off bringing the trees indoors overnight and moving them back outdoors during the comparatively warmer day if you’re really desperate to avoid the sub-zero temps.

      • Michael Schildt permalink

        I noticed you said to use holiday string lights to help keep the tree from freezing, I thought part of the reason it goes away for the winter was to keep it in the dark? Or is it just natural sunlight?

        • Sarah permalink

          You wouldn’t need to keep the lights on constantly, just to protect from cold snaps, so it wouldn’t be enough light to wake the trees, just like the warmth the lights give off won’t be enough to wake the trees. If you think about it, trees still get sunlight through winter in nature/outdoors, so they don’t need it to be pitch-black.

  52. Michael Schildt permalink

    I’m in zone 6, Long Island to be exact, I want to try growing Figs in containers because I have never had luck in the ground. This past winter we had many days close to 0 degrees with most days a high in the lower 20′s, I’m assuming my shed never got much above 30-35 degrees, will that be too cold to store my fig tree for the winter? My next question is when I bring it out in the spring is there a way I could cover it at night on my deck rather than bringing it back and forth to the shed each night? The shed is pretty far from the deck. Last, can you recommend a few trees that you think will do best in a pot in my zone? Oh, what kind of soil mix should I transplant my tree into and what kind of fertilizer should I use? Hopefully something organic. Sorry for so many question and thank you for what ever help you can give me.

    • Sarah permalink

      I think it might be best to get an accurate reading of the temperature inside your shed to know what you’re dealing with. If it’s 30-35 in there at times, as long as the potting medium in the fig tree’s container doesn’t become dry, it should be fine. The roots will be protected by the moisture in the potting medium and mulch you use to cover that.

      When spring comes around, would it be possible (instead of moving the tree from shed-to-deck and back) just to place the potted tree outside the shed during the day and move it back in at night? As long as it gets good sun, it should work until the tree is acclimated or at least until spring temperatures stay consistently above 50 degrees during the day and not dip below freezing at night. After that, you can move the tree to your deck for the duration of the growing season. I’m not sure covering would really be much use for a container-grown fig tree. The purpose of covering trees (like you might see on trees planted in the ground in landscapes) is to trap the heat from the ground as temporary protection from frost, since trees don’t generate their own heat.

      Cold hardy trees in general are going to be your best bet to grow there, especially in containers. The hardier the better, because they’ll tolerate your winters there either in the ground or in a container.

      Just a few examples:
      Cold-hardy Apple Trees
      • Cold-hardy Peach Trees
      • Most Pie/Sour/Tart Cherry Trees

      We have some articles on choosing soil to use in a container and how to fertilize here:
      Getting Started Growing Fruit Trees in Containers
      Caring for Fruit Trees in Containers

      I hope this all helps! :)

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