Newbie with New Mission Fig

bakerchic(8)May 2, 2010


I just bought my first fig tree- a black mission fig in a 5 gal pot. It has quite a few branches and leaves and is about 4 feet tall. I want to make sure it thrives, so I thought I'd get some advice before planting it.

Where do mission figs do best, ground or container? I'm in usda zone 8; and we never get temps below 20 degrees, so I'm considering putting it in the ground. But, I have billions of gophers and moles, so maybe a container would be best. I made a wooden box out of old wood, that is 2ft x 3ft x 2ft (12 cubic feet?). But, if I put it in there, it would be impossible to move.

I read it should be cut back on planting. Really? Why? What if I don't?

Should I expect fruit this first year? Do I fertilize this year? I already gave it some B-1 in anticipation of the transplant.

Thanks so much for any advice.

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Hello bakerchic,

Can't help you with the Gophers but if you go to the local garden center they will have something to get rid of the moles. I can't remember the name or brand but you put in the spreader and spread it like you would when you fertilize your lawn. I used to have this problem ( Moles ) a few years ago and it really wasn't that hard to handle. The product is a granular and it irritates their skin.
As for the Gophers, My only suggestion is a 12ga.!

If you have to resort to using a pot then a 10gl. or 15gl would be ideal. Not too large and easy to move. A good potting mix with added perlite is recommended. If you use Miracle Gro then it already comes with the fertilizer. But many of us here are not big fans of Miracle Gro potting mix.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 10:11AM
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girlbug2(z9/10, Sunset zone 24)

Missions are supposed to eventually grow into large trees. However, you can keep them pruned to height or so I hear. Perhaps larger fig trees are happier in the ground?

I also have a problem with gophers big time. Bay Laurel catalog recommends putting fig trees in gopher cages when you plant them. I followed this advice. So far my 3 in ground figs have not been harmed by the gophers. You should be able to find wire planting cages at OSH, and sometimes at other garden centers, or have them special order them for you.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 5:20PM
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Thank you, rafed and girlbug2. I will put it in the ground in a gopher cage. Eventually the cage will wear out, and I hope the gophers don't do much harm to a big tree. I will keep in pruned to about 6 feet.

Do figs need well-drained soil? Is that what the perlite is recommended for? I think my ground is a clay two feet down.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 7:24PM
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jmsimpson9(CA 8/9)

Ugggh. Gophers. My yard was loaded with them. After they ate a three year old pear tree into a sharpened stick I declared war.

After years and years of trapping, smoking and baiting, last year I tried the Exhart MoleMover (the solar one) and by mid season last year I absolutely saw the difference. I got mine at Home Depot. I now have 3 of them and am going to pick up a few more. Usually if a new gopher shows up it leaves within a day or so.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 1:42PM
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One of my fig trees is a mission fig. They're definitely known to become large trees so you can only keep them in a pot for a while. I have mine in the ground in front of the house and it's doing great even though our soil is pretty hard clay.
My understanding is that they're a bit more sensitive to cold than some other varieties, but then that's not a problem here near Phoenix. They take the scorching summer heat here pretty well and produce like crazy. I can't wait for the figs on mine to start ripening. YUM!
As far as moles and gophers, I haven't been "cursed" with that problem so far, but I like the 12ga solution offered. Nasty little critters that need a lead vaccine.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 2:25PM
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Hi Bakerchic,
i grow fig plants in containers and im rooting a black mission and it will also be in a container . With root pruning every few years and trimming the limbs accordingly i see no reason why it cannot do well in a container as folks grow some bonsai plants that would otherwise be trees inground. Its takes some attention growing in containers but i enjoy it for the most part.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 8:40AM
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girlbug2(z9/10, Sunset zone 24)

My soil is clay and my figs appear to do well in it. I wouldn't amend the soil too much, if at all.

As for the cages wearing out, yes, that will happen. But once the fig is a couple years old and strongly established I believe the root system is larger and tougher than gophers like, so they should leave it alone at that point. The older fig trees in my neighborhood don't appear to be bothered by gophers.

You may get fruit the first year if you're lucky. Some folks recommend removing fruits on first year trees because in theory the young growing tree will be weakened by putting energy into developing fruit. I dont' know if that is true or not. Your four foot tree may be big enough to handle it.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 10:45AM
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Thanks for the help. What is "root-pruning?" I think I've now decided to keep it in a big container (15 gal) the first year to see how it does in the spot I plan to plant it. I'm new to this house too, and I don't quite know the microclimates in my yard. Then, if it lives, I'll plant it in the ground with gopher wire. I love this website! (almost as much as I love figs.)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 12:34PM
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In a nutshell rootpruning is the cutting of the roots to keep them from overtaking the space in a container if left unchecked eventually thats all there is in the pot and they will decay and effect the plant sooner or later.
By root pruning and limb pruning everything stays in balance sort to speak.I do it every 2 to 3 years. There is more technical aspects but to keep it simple here .........

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 7:37PM
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