Growing Figs Outdoors All Year in Zone 5?

farmboy1(5)July 16, 2012

Last fall I bought a small potted fig of unknown variety at one of the big box stores when they were also selling raspberry, blueberry, etc. plants.

The area I wanted to plant the fig in was under construction all winter, so I couldn't plant it in it's permanent place.

Come spring, it was time to plant in in the permanent place, and when I did that, I noticed that the branches were dead. As I was about to throw it out, I noticed some small new growth at the base. So I planted it and it's about 2' high and even has a little fig beginning.

I happened to look at the plastic pot it was in the other day, and it says the plant is hardy to 10 degrees. So in that case it's really not an outdoor plant, as we see colder temps than that during most winters.

Now my question is whether I can grow the fig year round, or if it would need to be dug up and taken inside for the winter?



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it will probably die back in the winter but shoot out at the base every year.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 5:59AM
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You are lucky that rooted twig wasn't completely killed off. You cannot grow a fig, in-ground, through Zone-5 winters without taking a great deal of precautions to keep the roots, and wood from freeze damage. There are some on this forum who grow successfully in your climate, but most either completely bury, and heavily mulch their trees, or, grow them in large containers, and overwinter them in a cool shed/garage.

Your tree is native to Zones 9-11 Mediterranean, your Zone 5 climate doesn't even come close to those conditions. Your tree will most likely die back completely to the roots each year, if, you are lucky...and have to re-grow new branches each season. It will always struggle to keep alive. Forget what the plant label says...your tree will be challenged each winter...and all you need are some really bad conditions, and then Vince will no longer have a tree to worry about. Zone 5 Chicago, is not like the sunny-drenched hills of Italy.

Search this forum for overwintering in containers, and in-ground trees, and get an idea of what conditions you must provide for your tree so that it may live to see another day.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 6:10AM
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Vince:Your fig is a mount Etna type fig,and these cultivars of figs are some,of, the most cold hardy fig on the face of the earth.
If you grow only one fig tree you can grow it in ground in zone 5.
If you grow many,you can't because it just take too much work to protect in the Winter.
Protecting one fig the easy way:
Pinch it in the Summer to make it grow many trunks from base.
In the Fall,cut it to 2 foot tall, leave all trunks on,and find the largest cardboard box you can find.
Place cardboard box on ,over the tree,with bottom open,so you can see the ground .
Fill box with dry leaves.
Finish with a green tarp over the box so it make it look natural.
In March or April,as soon as Temperatures are over 25F,and no lower ,take the leaves out and leave box over for another 2 weeks.
After that take the cardboard box off.
The Mount Etna type will ripe in zone 5,if the live wood is preserved pass Winter.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 12:11PM
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I live in zone 6 which is not mediterranean weather. I t freezes in winter. I used to dig the pots containing the trees and take them into the garage. That was when I had tree trees but with the number of trees grew to sixteen it became too much work to handle. I have them planted in a raised bed protected from one side by the house and I close the top of the bed by cardboard and two sides by canvas the wind factor is almost zero I then hang Xmas lights on the trees. When the weatherman says temp will dip under 25 I turn the electricity and the Xmas lights on. Last winter was a warm one I needed to turn the lights on 6 times for a duration of 14 days. My trees did very well.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 2:43PM
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Thanks for all the great info!

I will try Herman's idea this winter and see if it works. It is in a fairly sheltered, protected area. I only have this one fig, and no room for more. I have more than 40 other trees, and no room to store pots so the less effort the better.

What about water during the warmup parts of winter?

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 10:45PM
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While leafless fig in ground do not need watering at all,in fact watering will hurt the tree.Of course the soil will be wet from rain in October and November.
In your climate you will have to install the Box at about DEcember 1.
Of course you know where to get leaves.
People place bags with leaves at the curb in Oct,and Nov.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 10:15PM
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