Fig Tree- invasive roots, keeping pruned to 5 ft-

elschOctober 3, 2011

Hi all. I planted a Desert King Fig tree this winter along with a bunch of other fruit trees with the goal of keeping them pruned as 5 ft. trees. The fig tree I am thinking as training it as a 5 ft. tall and maybe 7 ft. wide bush.

I keep happening to read everywhere that figs have very invasive roots. I am planning to prune it every year after the first (breba?) crop to keep it within bounds, so I will be losing the entire main crop.

My question is, under these circumstances are the roots still invasive when the tree is kept small?

Thank you!

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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I don't grow this particular cultivar,but have several garden design clients with fig trees and haven't noticed any particular conflicts with growing other smaller plants below the fig, nor any tendency for surface rooting. As figs are known to be rather drought tolerant while also having large leaves, it follows that they must also have well developed and deep growing roots that are efficient at finding available moisture. If your concern is more about closeness to pavement or foundations, it is the trunk's distance to walls more than destructive surface roots than may ultimately cause conflicts IMO. Heavy continual pruning as for espaliered trees will tend to impact quantity and spread of roots as root system size and foliage canopy size are heavily linked

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 9:46AM
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Thanks Bahia, no walls or pavement to worry about. I just don't want it to get out of hand - it is grouped with other fruit trees.

Have you happened to taste locally grown figs? This first years small crop was not very sweet so i am not sure if it even gets hot enough here to make it worthwhile.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 1:39AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

A cool summer can make a difference, and being in a windy or foggy area also lessens sugar content. I only plant them where they will get full sun and benefit from trapped or reflected heat here in Berkeley, and if you pick better adapted varieties they can be okay, but still wont quite match those grown in hotter climes.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 10:27AM
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I have never tried your variety either, but had Mission when I lived in Watsonville, about four miles from the coast. We would only get some ripe figs one in five years. The 'Brown Turkey' did better. Yours may be better suited to a hotter dryer climate. Al

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 10:16AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I suspect that any fig cultivar named "desert" will do best somewhere that is really hot and dry in summer. Where are you located?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 10:57AM
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I think Elvie-your mixing up the big evergreen Ficus "fig tree's" with the edible Fig roots. The biggest Edible fig tree's have no large surface roots to lift a thing or do any damage.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 12:33PM
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Ironically enough, Desert King is generally considered one of the more reliable varieties for coastal areas.


Edible figs don't generally produce the buttressing roots common among their tropical brethren (although you can induce an approximation by putting them in clay soil in the spray zone of an automatic sprinkler set to water for five minutes every morning... - sorry, pet peeve :).


    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 10:29PM
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nanelle_gw(9/Sunset 14)

I have a black jack that in about three years, has rendered three nearby raised beds almost useless. I suppose it could be some other tree ( I have redwoods and defers in the yard), but the fig is the closest.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 2:51AM
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napapen(ca 15)

redwoods are very invasive. I have them all over from trees quite a distance away. The root system has to be big as my trees are huge.


    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 10:46AM
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And fig tree-edible fig tree roots- are compartitively soft wooded. I have a whole group next to my home..not much problem digging through roots that dont seem invasive in the damaging sense-but they do send up shoots.
ANY tree is going to outcompete shrubs and small stuff for raised bed soils..Some like Redwoods,are champs at it.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 11:30AM
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Research has shown redwood roots within the top two feet of soil as far as 100 feet from the tree. Al

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 2:25PM
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nanelle_gw(9/Sunset 14)

My apologies to my innocent fig tree then! Also, "defers" was supposed to be cedars.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 4:56PM
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