Brown Turkey Fig - help!

lkutzApril 11, 2013

We purchased a Brown Turkey Fig last spring and planted it according to the instructions from the garden center. It produced two beautiful figs last fall and we had high hopes of it surviving the winter. We insulated it with leaves and mulch, wrapped it in multiple layers of burlap, and placed a bucket over it. With temps in the 50's this week, I went out and unwrapped the fig. To my dismay, it seems that many of the branches appear dead! The base of the tree itself still seems rooted well and springy, but some small branches were dry and broke off during the unwrapping (even though I was careful!). Is it too early to give up hope? We were so careful, and kept the deer away, and tried everything we knew to keep it healthy, and are now worried that it didn't survive the winter.

How long should I give it to get buds and appear alive? Should we do anything to it to help it along? We have an arborist feed our trees every year - should we include this baby fig in the feeding? This is our first fig.



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How old and how tall is your fig tree?
Some fig growers mentioned if the tree is too small, it is not a good idea to plant it in the ground too soon!
It wouldn't be strong enough to survive the cold weather.

You may still have some hope as the roots seem OK!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 12:54PM
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The tree is about 3.5ft tall. I can't remember how old it was...maybe a 3-yr old tree when we bought it last May? We purchased it from a true garden center, not a big box store.

It has four main branches from the base, with smaller sprouts also.

The place we bought it from said it was large enough to plant, but that growing fig trees in Ohio is a crap shoot, although once established they do well. We did everything the said to do, so it's upsetting if it didn't survive. This won't be our last though because the figs were wonderful!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 4:14PM
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You can also post the questions of your little fig tree
on the following forum:
Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 4:23PM
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LeighAnn...I don't think your tree is dead. Even here in southern Ohio (Cincinnati) Brown Turkey is hard to grow unless you are willing to bury the tree in the winter. Your tree will come back from the roots, but will probably be far behind in the growing season. I have however had much sucess growing BT in pots, which are garaged over the winter. Last year I bought a Chicago Hardy which is supposed to be a little better bet to survive the winter in the ground. I'll know NEXT spring. Good Luck

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 11:41PM
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I think your tree is still OK if the base of the tree is fine!
It is not easy to winterize the fig when the temperature
is either too cold or fluctuate a lot during this period.
My in-ground little fig is about the same size as yours.
I live in Ontario, Canada (zone 5 or 6 as temperature
has risen in recent years).

I am sure I have wrapped the fig tree to give enough
insulation but I think I've overdone it!
I checked my little tree yesterday and found the upper branches
has died as there are molds on them, but the base
seems OK. So the condition of my little fig is very similar
to your case!
I am waiting to see how my fig will do!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 12:18PM
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fignewbies: I'm in ON, too. I just unwrapped my 1st year Hardy Chicago (burlap, straw, plastic). It's doing fine, upper branches (all 2 of them) have green buds. Luck of the draw, I guess.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 8:48PM
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Brown Turkey fig- help! That's exactly how I feel. :)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 4:13AM
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Update on my fig:

The branches never had a chance to bud, as the stupid deer ate the buds off when they began to appear - all they did is eat every exposed tip and now the branches feel dead. Is it OK to cut these branches out?

The good(?) thing is I have tons of growth at the base. The entire base at ground level is full of fig leaves. I know I won't get anything this year, but is this a good sign that the tree will survive, or is it the tree's last stand against death? We lost 12 Ash trees to the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle, and all of them sprouted branches at their base before we removed I'm always leery about growth from the base.

Thanks in advance!

Leigh Ann

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 3:08PM
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Hi, lkutz:

Looks like you have to find ways to deter that pesty deer or deers as it likes to chew on your fig tree no matter what time of the year!
Since there are growths at the base of your tree, your tree is OK!

I wonder if the burlap was not sufficient to prevent coldness to your tree. Maybe the harsh, cold wind during winter blown through the burlap and dried the fig tree's branches?!

I would add a big cardboard box to cover the fig tree and covered the whole thing with a large plastic sheet to keep it dry.
Of course, there must be lots of dried leaves inside to keep the tree warm.

My mistake was that I did not cover my fig tree with a plastic sheet to shield away from the outside element and melted snow got into my tree and caused the mold!

All of my fig tree's top branches have died because of the molds, so my fig tree has reduced to about 1 foot from the ground. It was upsetting to see that, but I can comfort myself that at least my now shortened fig tree survived the winter.
Now there are a lot of growths at the low branches of it.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 4:45PM
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