justfigured(6)April 2, 2010

Hello all. This is my first post, although I have been reading for months. I have two small fig trees in containers, and I think I missed the boat on repotting them for this season. I believe they really need to be repotted, so I am looking for advice on how to repot at this inopportune time. They have both begun to leaf out.

They have been in these containers for 3 years, and my plan is to return them to these same containers. They are each in a large (approximately 15 gallon) container, and the soil appears spent. When working the top of the soil, the fine roots appear to have completely colonized the soil.

Had I not been so late, I was planning to root prune (and possible bare root) and repot into a mix of pine bark, perlite and fines sifted from soil conditioner that I used last year on a different project. The fines have the consistency of peat. I was also going to lime and, after a period of adjustment, fertilize with a 24-8-16 with minors. I do not know how much, if any, of this is advisable at this late date. I would appreciate any guidance. Thank you in advance for any input.

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giants_2007(10 PSL FL Sal)

I think you will be fine it is still early. You might have some set back but they should catch up I've seen pics of this done with radical root pruning when fully leafed out and the person reported no damage. Maybe others with more experience will chime in

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 10:13AM
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bonsaist(Z6/ Bethlehem, Pa)

This is a good time to repot the trees as long as your trees did not fully break dormancy. If the trees broke dormancy I usually don't like to disturb the roots, you can only pot them up leaving the soil intact.
Pull them out of the pots, and cut down up to 50% of the roots. You should also prune some of the branches to keep the tree in balance. I would use slow release fertilizer these numbers should be fine.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 10:46AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I generally avoid repotting anything deciduous that's in leaf, which means I also avoid anything resembling a serious root reduction. My suggestion for this year would be to unpot the tree, saw the bottom 1/4 of the roots off, and then use a razor knife to cut deep vertical slits in the root mass at 3-4" intervals. I would then bump the plant to a slightly larger size pot. Next spring, I would be careful not to let the tree get so far into the growth cycle before I did a complete repot, which includes bare-rooting and removing a considerable fraction of the largest roots.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 1:08PM
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I just came in from inspecting the trees, and each branch has 2-3 leaves unfurled along with the growing tip. I will do what Al said concerning the method of root reduction, since Bass' suggestion falls into line with what Al said, too. I will make sure not to overdo, and I will place them out of direct sun while they acclimate.

I will also properly scold myself for being so negligent. I do not know where the time went! I thank you for your advice.


PS I have also been poking around on the container forum and have been studying the "Trees in Containers" thread. Next year, if done early enough, would it be safe to completely bare root?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 2:22PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Yes, there is much benefit in bare-rooting your trees. Figs are so genetically vigorous that they'll stoically suffer most of the indignities we are apt to heap on them and come back for more. I've already bare-rooted and repotted 80-100 deciduous trees (including the figs) this spring. Don't be too hard on yourself about missing the window of opportunity - It's easy to do and it happens to all of us.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 6:00PM
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