What are the signs of dehydrating fig?

girlbug2(z9/10, Sunset zone 24)May 1, 2010

In January I planted a VdB fig in a large container that was fitted with a self-watering insert. The soil was well wetted at that time. The whole time it has stayed wet because winter rains kept the top soil moist pretty well up until a month ago. Now the top few inches appear to have dried out, even though when I check the reservoir there's still a few inches of water down there. I thought these self-watering contraptions were supposed to keep soil evenly moist:(.

Anyway, the little fig tree appears to be growing still, but slowly. The leaves have a slightly cupped shape and the two breba figs growing on it have halted growth I think, their skins are looking dullish compared to the figs on my in-ground black jack fig. Does that mean the tree is in distress? Should I be adding more water?

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

It does sound to me that your fig is too dry. Why don't you try adding more water from the top and see if it perks up.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 3:06PM
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Some folks check there container soil by sticking a wooden stick down into it in several places and pulling back out. Similar to testing brownies in oven with a toothpick inserted in the center.
I go by the weight of container myself.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 5:50PM
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maryneedssleep(5a (PA))

Dieseler, what should we see when we pull the stick out? If we go by weight, how much water should be in a 12-gal container? I keep reading that figs should not get too much water so I have been keeping them pretty dry compared to my container peach and container apple.

This is my first year with any fig, and my first year with the other fruits in containers, so I am lost!

Thanks, Mary

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 11:22AM
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After pulling out the stick or dowel rod which is a round wooden stick you should see it a little moist with some soil on it also moist . Going by weight takes some getting used to and is my method of choice. You can water one of your containers till you see the water coming out the drain holes , then afterwards tilt it by holding the lip of container to get a feel of how heavy it is. When containers get near watering needs and you once again tilt it you can feel the difference. After one keeps doing this they get a feel for it even with different size containers. As for how much water should a 12 gallon container takes i do not know as when i water i water my containers until i see water coming from the drain holes and i water in a circular fashion covering all the soil, if one is to water only near the rim in a circular motion it of course will run pretty straight down and out the drain hole which is what you don't want as then the rest of soil is cheated out of water.
I hope this helps give you a good start.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 3:16PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Mary - If you are using a heavy soil and are afraid you might over-water, you might want to try this trick - well, I'll actually give you two to try.

First, when you water, you should be able to water thoroughly, so you saturate the soil and at least 10-15% of the water you applied exits the drain. If you cannot do this w/o your soil remaining saturated for extended periods, you may want to consider switching to a faster (draining) soil at the next repot.

* If, after you water and the pot has stopped draining, you tilt the container at a 45* angle, a considerable amount of additional water will drain from the container. It doesn't matter if the drain hole(s) is/are located in the center of the container or at the perimeter of the bottom, but if it's at the perimeter it works slightly better. Try it with a plastic cup and a heavy soil and you'll see what I mean. You can also saturate a sponge and hold it so the 2 shortest dimensions are horizontal and the longest dimension vertical. After the sponge stops draining, grasp it by a corner so one of the corners is at the lowest point and watch how much additional water drains from the sponge. I'll explain the physics if anyone has interest.

* You can employ a wick to help you drain containers that have heavy soils in them. Simply push a wick up into the soil through a drain hole and allow it to dangle 2-3" below the pot. The excess water (water in the perched water table) in the pot is "fooled" into "thinking" the pot is deeper than it actually is, so water moves down the wick "looking" for the bottom of the container. The weight of the water coming down the wick from above pushes the water below off the end of the wick.

Aeration is as important to roots as water, and these tricks allow air to return to the soil mass much faster. Your plants' vitality begins at the roots, the heart of the plant, so root health is essential if our plants are to have the opportunity within other cultural influences to grow to their potential genetic vigor.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 5:39PM
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