I think Im killing my little fig tree!

MajorMomMay 3, 2011

I purchased a small fig tree almost two years ago... it was the end of summer and the little thing was a bit pitiful looking... I kept it in its pot and inside during the first winter. The next year we took it outside but kept it in its pot. It grew a bit and even produced figs... this past year it's still small but produced figs as well...but this year? Im getting worried.

It has branched off- looks like two branches coming out of the pot rather than a single trunk and has only produced one fig so far. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to perk him up and keep me from being a fig killer?

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

More info needed really.

Same container and potting mix for two years?

What sort of fertilization regimen? What size container? What type of mix?


    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 1:05AM
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Hi Josh!

Okay...please, make that pretty please...know that I am extremely new to gardening... so my mistakes are many at the moment.

So here goes: Yes same container and same soil for 2 years

I havent fertilized other than initially... the container is 18 inches circumference and the mix I used was a combination of the natural soil here which is very much a red clay and then some potting soil with bark, peat and food which said was suitable for fruits... but I could very well be starving my baby! Face palms self...HARD!

I really do want to do right by this little guy...

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 4:00AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a


Well, I think we know why the tree is losing vitality ;-)

The container is plenty large to go for two years without re-potting,
but the choice of potting medium itself - clay yard soil - cannot last two years.
In a container, that type of mix will be far too heavy and will compact immediately.
In short, the tree needs a new mix - preferably a well-aerated mix with fast,
open drainage. After that, it'll need a consistent regimen of nutrients.

Here's the difficult part. Re-potting a tree that's low on vitality can be touchy.
I prefer to re-pot before the leaves emerge. I think we should ask a veteran grower
for the best plan of action on how to proceed, regarding the timing of the re-pot.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 9:45PM
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*smiles and nods in agreement.... Thank you Josh! I think you are correct. I have gone through some of the forums here and found one I think may have helped.... I chose to re-pot the little guy. I know my fig tree has its leaves and a single fruit ..but I also noticed yesterday that his roots were starting to peek up out of the soil and were really compacted within his pot too- sighs.

So after wringing my hands over it I decided he needed to be re-potted now rather than wait for it to completely choke out and die a slow agonizing death.

I went and got a much larger container. Then my hubby drilled several great holes in the bottom for good drainage. I then mixed in small pebbles, humus, potting soil with a little bit of our natural soil...

I carefully took my fig from its cramped quarters and carefully removed ALL the compacted dirt from its roots, rinsed the extra off and separated the roots- very much like gingerly undoing knots in bead-work LOL... LOTS of patience but quickly done! I swear I heard the little guy breath a HUGE sigh of relief...

Then I put him in his new home...with food and water and a stake to hold him in place till he grabs the soil on his own -- he's pouting right now...but I pray he'll perk up soon. We have him in a location that gets a little bit of sun and NO wind. I have my fingers, toes, eyes and nose crossed! And I will post before and after pics here in a few.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 2:38PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hello, again!

Yes, that's the trouble with re-potting such a large-leafed plant while in leaf...
those large surfaces are likely to wilt while the roots are "offline" and not providing
a full complement of moisture.

I would not have included any natural/yard soil because it compacts and doesn't allow oxygen
to return to the soil in a timely fashion. Hopefully the tree will survive; and, next year,
before the leaves open, perhaps you can re-pot in a free-draining soil composed mostly of
larger (1/8 to 1/4 inch) particles, such as bark, perlite, turface, pumice, and stone grit.

Also, it is best not to fertilize immediately after re-potting. I prefer to wait about
two weeks. This gives the roots time to establish in the new mix and limits the chance of
fertilizer burn.

Definitely keep the tree out of the wind, and try to limit the direct sunlight, so as to try
and keep those wilted leaves.

I'll cross my fingers for you, too ;-)


    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 8:50PM
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Thank you so much for your support Josh! I feel bad that I didnt know to do that earlier...sighs.... but , well, I had no clue. So im hoping and waiting... So far my little fig tree seems to be adjusting well

I just hope it keeps going in that direction lol

I do have him out of the direct sunlight and he's in a safe, windless area too.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 4:56PM
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Okay..... It is now June 22 and my little fig tree is GLORIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Initially he pouted and sulked and threw almost all of his leaves at me...sighs... after turning them a sickly yellow of course! But He soon realized he could BREATH! Now he is covered in brilliant green leaves and sprouts new little leaflets nearly daily. and when he gets his water he smells oh so wonderfully Figgy! hehehe I cannot wait till he decides to grace us with figs again. I don't even care if I have to wait till next year LOL

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 2:50PM
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