Chicago Hardy Wintering and Explosive January Growth

ajh2844January 10, 2013

Need help with a Chicago Hardy Fig. Left it outside all the way until early Late November/early December here in Chicago, Illinois. All of the leaves fell off at the end of September, Early October. Continued to sit outside without leaves until I finally brought it in (it is in a container).

I've read lots of conflicting information about how to winter the fig/whether to bring it in or not, where to place it once its inside (ie, dark place versus light situation making no difference), etc. Strangely, in the past two weeks or so, it has grown extremely rapidly. I had it sitting in a hallway with no window access. It's easily doubled in height, although the leaves are long and stringy. Obviously, this new growth has no bark and I cannot just put it back outside at this point. What should I do with it? My goal is for it to produce fruit as soon as possible. I bought it as a cutting late summer so it is only one season old. Thanks for any suggestions! Picture attached.

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bonsaist(Z6/ Bethlehem, Pa)

When you brought it indoors it broke its dormancy. The leaves look very weak due to lack of strong light, your indoor growing conditions are not ideal. At this point you can't force it to go dormant again. You should have kept it in a cold storage where temperatures remain below 55� and above 25� to keep it dormant.
Try move it to an area close to a sunny window until spring slowly introduce it to outside light.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 7:32AM
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I agree with Bass, it wont go back into dormancy. I would keep in in a cool sunny spot. If it has been fertilized, I would water several times to flush out the fertilizer, then water only when it looks dry. The idea would be to promote as little growth as possible. The stem actually looks sturdy, so it might be OK. Once spring is definitely there, it will need gradual introduction to outdoors, starting in a shady spot and slowly acclimating to sun.

My 2 cents. I'm not the world expert by far!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 12:17PM
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Either take it near a window with sun or hang on it a strong growing light. I provide my young fig trees brought inside with a lamp each supplying 1500 lumen and they are doing great. Fig is a tropical plant needs no dormancy. We forced into dormancy because of our lousy cold winter.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 5:39PM
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You might need to support it with something like a stake or pole when it does go outside again, that main stem might not do so good with some strong winds. Putting a fan on it occasionally may help build some strength and decrease leginess.

This post was edited by cis4elk on Mon, Jan 14, 13 at 15:57

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 3:54PM
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Your tree is surely growing fast,
my little Kadota sucker fig (10") is growing much
slower than yours.
Just curious, is Hardy Chicago a fast grower
to start with?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 4:39PM
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Centurion_(Verde Valley AZ Z8)

"is Hardy Chicago a fast grower
to start with?"

I have one indoors in a pot and it is a fast grower. It's in a south facing window and is becoming a big strong tree. I can't wait to plant it outside.

To ajh2844...If you do decide to put it in a south facing window for more so gradually. Full exposure to sunlight for long periods might well kill it.

I would start it out under shadecloth, an hour or two a day, and gradually increase it. It might be several weeks before it is ready for full sun...even through a window.

I have a pale looking little mulberry I am doing that with right now.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 10:48PM
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Thanks Centurion for telling me the HC is a fast
growing fig variety!

To cis4elk: "Putting a fan on it occasionally to add strength..."- interesting! Never heard of that before but
maybe one day I will try it out too!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 5:02PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

A fan is important as it will help increase the strength of the branches. Also, when you do put it back outside you will need to put it in the shade and VERY gradually give it more light. Ideally put it under a porch where it can only have a short time of early morning light. Even a few hours of direct sun will scorch the leaves and likely kill the plant.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 5:13PM
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Glad that I came across this post; my Chicago Hardy was dormant, also brught in in early December as I didn't think my pot or garage offered enough protection (previous attempts at unheated garage overwintering figs have failed). So it has been in the 50 degree basement, but unfortunately has also leafed out. (The callas and amaryllis have sprouted too, much earlier than they usually do)

I will bring it up and put it in a north facing window at first, if you all agree that is what I should do now. The main part of the house is never over 65 degrees; my citrus seem to like that quite a lot.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:34PM
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