how to start training figs for the indoors??

viso(Reading, PA 6B)April 10, 2010

hi all. i recently received 5 young figs thru the mail. most were from burnt ridge. one was from edible landscaping. i got celeste, atriano, striped tiger, violette de bordeaux, and desert king. they range in size from 1 foot (looks like it got munched by a deer over the winter) and about 3 feet (the one that has leafed out the most), and all are single "whips" - no side branching yet. i plan on taking all of them inside the house every winter (they'll probably end up in my bedroom), so i wanted to keep the form as compact as possible for storage, while getting them to produce as much fruit as possible. so my question is this: what is the best way to start training/pruning them now so that they produce a lot in a compact space? maybe eventually 5 or 6 foot tall and not too wide? some have not yet leafed out, others have. i don't know if it will hurt the tree if i prune it when it is actively growing? also, i assume i can try to root anything i have to prune?

on a side note, i repotted one today and trimmed off some swirling roots, which were only about an eighth of an inch thick, but i'm trying to see if i can get them to root anyway. i sprayed them with mycorrhizal fungi and put them in potting soil with the proximal tip just above the soil line...

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Here is the form that I prefer:
The best time to prune is after dormancy but you can still prune in summer for adjusting shape if you are careful and know if the plant is breba only type or has both breba and main crop (unless you are willing to sacrifice fruit for the shape of the plant).
I don't think the bedroom will be a good place for overwintering the plants. It is not that the plant will not survive but its vigour will diminish (by not having rested in dormancy) and may not perform well next season. Yes, there may be some fig trees in the tropics but the situation of fig in pots in the bedroom is not comparable to figs not going dormant in the tropics.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 11:14PM
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viso(Reading, PA 6B)

that's the shape i was aiming for. do i just chop off the top and the side branches will begin to form up and down the trunk?

these are my first figs. i only vaguely know about "breba only" and "breba and main crop" but i don't understand how they would affect my pruning decision. if it helps, i didn't plan on getting any fruit this year, if that would even be possible. i'm just wanting to shape them and enjoying watching them grow.

as for the bedroom, i've heard that plants should overwinter in a garage-type environment. indoors, but not heated. that's my bedroom. it's the coldest room in the house, about 50 degrees in the winter and colder by the window. we don't have a garage. there's the basement, which is a little cooler maybe, but i worry about molds and things.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 3:11PM
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viso I know a lot of people who love their figs but not one of them is over wintering their figs in their bedroom.

If I told my wife we were going to overwinter my figs in our bedroom I know what she would say. I just asked her. She said; "You can go out their and sleep with them and keep them warm."lol

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 4:05PM
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viso(Reading, PA 6B)

you just made me laugh at myself.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 4:35PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Viso - I think you confused proximal with distal. Hopefully it's the distal end of your cutting(s) that is/are above the soil line. ;o)

I think you're going to be very disappointed if you try to over-winter your trees in your bedroom. They will be putting out weak growth all winter and will not like the light/humidity indoors. The result will surely be a stressed and struggling tree with reduced energy reserves when it comes time to move the plants outdoors next spring.

Trees allowed to snooze the winter away until well into spring at temperatures Good luck.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 4:57PM
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Then I was successful.

In cold climates people usually keep their figs in in a shed or garage or well insulated under a tarp. Most people allow them to go dormant though many figs do not need to go dormant to be healthy or produce high quality fruit.

Below is an expert from the 7th paragraph down in this link.

"Figs at this elevation produce year around with irrigation. (All trees received 10 minutes of water per day at 1/4 gallon per hour from emitters in the early morning.) Harvesting is required every 2 or 3 days."

Thats right, No dormant period and harvest is year round 365 days a year every 2-3 days. Growing at lower elevations in Hawaii is a fig lovers dream come true.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 5:02PM
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viso(Reading, PA 6B)

hmm... i put the roots under soil essentially the same way they were to begin with, except exposed at the top end, which i assume is the proximal end (as if i were referring to the roots as the legs of a human body). so it's right side up. on the other hand, the end with the most stored energy is being exposed...

oh well, it'll be a miracle if it works anyway. i got some 1/16th of an inch raspberry roots to grow. that's what inspired me.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 5:18PM
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viso(Reading, PA 6B)

and am i right about the pruning? just nip off the top and all remaining buds become side branches? how close do you prune to the bud that will be left on top?

for some reason they won't let me post unless i change the subject line

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 5:40PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Thisisme - there are many trees in which some of the individuals of the species require a dormant period and some do not. An example is Ulmus parvifolia (Chinese elm). Some individuals of this species are perfectly happy in a more southerly provenance and others prosper in a zone 4, maybe even 3, setting. However, if you take an individual from zone 3 or 4 and move it south to near the equator, that tree will decline and die. The same would be true of the subtropical members of the species if they are moved north to zone 4, they would lack the hardiness necessary for them to survive the winter.

Trees that grow/fruit well with near equal amounts of sunlight/dark all year long are unlikely to perform as well, or even live, in more northerly climes. Provenance is a practical consideration for all our trees.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 8:42PM
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Hi Viso,
your coolest area in house is basement thats where i would put them if you have no choice as the bedroom in my opinion is not a good idea and give em a drink not a watering once each month "not" enough water to drain out the bottom of pot either just a small amount. In bedroom you will eventually get bugs. There is not enough natural sun, not enough humidity, not enough natural air movement and they will suffer in the my opinion eventually. Figs grow on new wood that sprouts during the season for an idea and the first crop usually not as good sprouts on last seasons wood.Look for figs when they first emerge on new wood above the stem of leaf they will first apear round like a real tiny pea.
Yes you can top off your whips you call at a height you want looking for a ring (node) on the main trunk and cut several inches above it and seal the cut. This will force horizontal growth down the branch little by little. Once they grow outwards you can cut to your desire anytime,just a reminder the shorter you cut the horizontal ones back the less figs you get, less leaf stems out less figs. Its always best to seal the cut so bugs dont get into it,i use spit and dirt for very small diameter branches and pruning seal for larger woody ones.
Yes you can root what you cut last seasons wood roots better than curent seasons green growth.
In dormant season you can also trim your plant to your desire they can take a hard pruning like a bush. There are some ways to get fruit to ripen also in colder area's such as cutting after 5th or 6th leaf on a branch to slow the vegatative growth there by useing more energy for the fig.
After several years of shaping the tree you get an idea of what happens when you make cuts and where new growth will appear, these trees are fun to work with and the fruit is great to eat.
Hope this helps give you some idea's.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 9:11AM
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viso(Reading, PA 6B)

maybe this would work...

every year we have a giant pile of leaves we have raked up from the yard. if i were to lay the pots on their side, i could create a shelter over them out of plywood or something, and then cover it all with the leaves? it sounds easier than digging a hole for all of them. i'm not sure how often, if ever, the basement would be below 42.

thisisme - is this what you meant by "well insulated under a tarp"? laying them down, covering them with a tarp, and then covering that with leaves or something?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 1:42PM
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