Winter almost killed my fig

Anthony(7a)June 6, 2014

We have three fig trees in the backyard. The two away from the house are almost certainly dead. No budding or leaf activity at all, even near the roots.

The one near the house is about 20' tall and was well trimmed to a nice 10' canopy. Every year it made nice shade and more figs than we could get (although birds and squirrels got most of them).

Anyway, this winter was brutal (duh) and that fig is barely showing signs of life. A few of the big trunk lines show a handful of leaves about 6' up and a lot of activity at the base of the trunk. No tip leaves at all. Branches are pretty pliable still (not dried out).

So:
1) is it savable?
2) should I just wait it out and see if it recovers (probably with no fruits this year)?
3) If I need to take action to save it: what and when?

Side note -- we were going to build a deck around this fig (as a focal point / shade), so if the answer is cutting it back to the ground, we may just cut our losses and plant a new fig elsewhere in the yard.

Thanks!
Anthony

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

It will recover but might need to be cut back. I'd want the branches gone that are mostly dead. We've had this happen here in the past. After 1-2 yrs you can hardly tell that anything happened. It will regain it's former size that fast.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 6:16PM
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clarkinks(5b)

In zone 5 figs die back to the root every winter and they frequently still produce figs. Some people wrap there figs to prevent die back.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 7:18AM
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Anthony(7a)

We've been here 5 years now and this is the first time we've seen this. Usually by now the tips have made a full canopy.

I've had to prune each year, but usually for size, not dead branches.

We'll wait it out and see if any more growth develops. When's the best time to prune? I don't want to stress it if it's barely hanging on.

Thanks all.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 7:27AM
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fabaceae_native

I am not concerned about this fig, as it will almost certainly recover it's former size and glory relatively soon (much sooner than a brand new one would gain that size), as fruit nut saysâ¦

However, Clark's statement above could be a bit misleading,

"In zone 5 figs die back to the root every winter and they frequently still produce figs."

True that there are plenty of zone 5 figs that produce crops frequently, but not in the same year as being frozen back to roots, but only in a milder year when they don't freeze back, or with protection. I have yet to hear of any fig that can reliably produce the same year as freezing back completely.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 7:31AM
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mamuang_gw

Clark and Fabaceae,

What varieties of figs that could be planted in the ground in zone 5 and come back!!!

Although I am new to fig but I have followed a fig forum and read quite a bit about fig growing. I have hardly heard of a fig tree planted in ground in zone 5 unprotected and has survived. So far, I have not read about any name varieties.

Even in my zone 6, it's still iffy with a variety like as Chicago Hardy if not protected.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 9:55AM
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nyboy

My father lives in southern NY. He has a large fig tree planted in yard. Does no kind of winter protection, this winter was brutal . Tree didn't even have die back!!!!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 10:08AM
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mamuang_gw

Clark and Fabaceae,

What varieties of figs that could be planted in the ground in zone 5 unprotected and survive, please!!

Although I am new to fig but I have followed a fig forum and read quite a bit about fig growing. I don't know if I've ever read about such a fig tree. So far, I have not known of any name varieties. I'd appreciate you could give me the name, please.

Even in my zone 6, it's still iffy with a variety like as Chicago Hardy if not protected.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 10:26AM
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blackrag(6A East PA)

I have 4 Chicago Hardy in the ground planted last year, all died back to the ground. 2 of them have growth from the ground, 2 have no signs of life, I am just about ready to call the latter dead. They were all wrapped in 3 layers of burlap. Last month I received 4 Bensonhurst Purple Hardy figs, those got planted in pots.

I plan to figure out how to get figs by hook or crook.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 8:48PM
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AgroCoders(6)

Some figs will survive in protected alcoves with enough warmth from the building but the one I didn't plant but left potted was of course killed by this winter. I'm in Zone 6b but there are pockets of 6a microclimates in the area (karst / knobs).

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 9:26PM
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alfred

"My father lives in southern NY. He has a large fig tree planted in yard. Does no kind of winter protection, this winter was brutal . Tree didn't even have die back!!!!"

NY,
From what I understand about this winter, all of NY got down to at least near zero Fahrenheit for sustained periods or multiple times. And I've never heard of any unprotected fig variety that does not sustain any damage in those conditions. Many fig enthusiasts would be willing to pay top dollar for small cuttings from such a fig variety.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 10:27PM
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Fascist_Nation(9b)

Cold Hardy Figs:
Brown Turkey (Texas Everbearing) DWN
Blue Celeste (all Celeste really) DWN
Brunswick
Hardy Chicago DWN
Violet De Bordeaux (Negronne) medium eye, down to zone 5 DWN
Desert King DWN
Italian Honey (Lattarula)
Peter's Honey
Osborne Prolific (Neverella) DWN
Excel DWN
Texas Blue Giant DWN
Golden Celeste
Black Mission DWN
[there are others but they require either hot summers or a summer greenhouse to sweeten]
Alma - late ripening, honey fig, ugly fig, super flavor [female Allison X male Hamma Caprifig]
Atreano
Bayenfeige Violetta
Biancheta
Brogiotto Nero (Briogiotto Fiorentino)
Capelas
Dauphine
Genovese Nero
Hollier
Isfahan
LSU Purple
Mademoiselle de deux Saisons
Malta (Sugar Fig)
Northland (Nordland Bergfeige)
Paradiso Bianco
Portuguese East Mountain
Ronde de Bordeaux
Sal's (Corleone)
Skardu Dark
Stela (honey fig) (aka Stella)
Sultane
Tena (Bifere)
Ventura

As to which do well in zone 5 ... do your homework.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 6:25PM
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mamuang_gw

Fascist,
Thank you for your list. As I have read many posts, I can't recall any variety on your "hardy" list makes it in ground unprotected in zone 5 (or even zone 6a). They survive in pots overwinter in garage or in ground with protection.

I agree with Alfred, many of us in zone 6 and lower would pay top dollars if there was such a variety. Maybe, it does not exist.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 6:57PM
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