Five trunks

nancedar(z7NC)April 6, 2012

I wanted a fig forest so I bought twelve 6'tall BT fig trees (no branching), planted them 2 yrs ago, the first winter each tree's single trunk was killed by frost. Following spring each tree grew 5 trunks from the center root, straight up, no branching, and I pinched off all baby fruit. I do have plenty of width room for these as time goes by. But, for what to do this third year, my question is "Should I trim out all but one trunk, or should I shorten each trunk to make them compact and force branching, or should I let them grow as is?"

I have a 12 year old BT that is lightly trimmed to 10'x10' and produces the sweetest fruit, the prettiest branching (3 trunks) and wonderfully smelling leaves so all you who poo-poo BT's, it just may be what the soil is like and the part of the country they grow in and, of course, naming conventions - so I named the tree GIF 'cause who knows? These new figs were not from this tree and I do hope they taste as sweet, if not, I'll still have a nice forest.


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It sounds like you really like the 12 year old BT that you have, and that you're looking for more of the same. If so, why don't you try to duplicate it as much as possible? When you buy a tree from an external source, unless it's one of the few really reliable sources around, there's no telling what it is, even though it may be labeled. Many folks have bought trees that turned out to be a lot different than labeled. Also, even if you buy one that is a BT, there are many strains of BT, so it could be a bit different than the BT you have.

So why not take some cuttings from the tree you like and use them to start new trees? Or, even better, do some airlayers this summer, and then plant them. That way you know the new trees will be genetically the same as the old one.

As far as pruning, again I'd say try to mimic the way your other tree is growing if you're happy with it. There is no "right" or "wrong" way. Some people choose the single trunk, others may want multiple trunks, or a lot of branching.

5 seems like a lot of trunks. If they spread out well, then maybe it's ok. But as they get bigger, you may find that you will want to take one or more out. Or some may freeze. If any are growing really close together and shading each other a lot, I might take them out.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 9:59AM
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Just an idea that bonsai-growers use if they want create a "forest-style"....

Try to find a tree with plenty of pliable branches, and plant the tree horizontally, on top of the soil, and pin down the branches so that they make contact with the soil also. Do what ever needs to be done to keep those branches flat. Eventually the tree will send out roots at the places where the trunk and branches contact the soil, and train all the new buds to grow upwards, These will form new stems/trunks, and will, in time, look like a grove of trees. It takes work, but it might be an interesting technique to try.

This method could also be used to propagate your favorite fig tree. After the roots form, and new branches start sprouting, the original tree can be cut up into smaller sections, each becoming a new fig tree. It's nothing more than horizontal-layering.

Frank DV

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 6:59AM
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Five trunks sound like a very good 'bush' (preferred) type fig form.
Pinch the tops if you want more branching (suggested).

On the other hand, if you want your fig to have a 'tree'
form; select you best trunk and pinch the top-tip too.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 9:11AM
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