Brand new trees: First crop? Pruning?

meeks00(7)August 18, 2014

Hello, all!

I'm very exited to have received my first fig trees - a two-year-old Brown Turkey (pictured prior to being potted) and a ~4" Celeste. Also so pleased to see such a vibrant forum community here. Love the discussions I've seen so far!

The Brown Turkey appears to have small fruit buds forming between the trunk and the leaf stems. Will the tree have a main crop this year? Or should I be pinching those off? It seems to be going through a bit of shock after being transplanted just yesterday (spotted and curling leaf ends), but I hope it settles soon.

Also, I hope to keep my trees in containers for easy winterizing in my basement or garage here in DC and to keep them indoors/on my patio. Is it possible to limit upward growth by pruning the top at some point?

If any of you can offer some advice, I'd appreciate it!

- Mika

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A tree that size should be in at least a 5-gallon bucket, and yes, pinch off all forming figs. Figs need at least 70-85 days from bud stage to full-ripe stage, and those new figs that are forming so late in the season will never ripen. It's better to wait until next year to ripen a FEW figs on your young trees. The figs will form earlier each subsequent year until the tree settles in. However, weather conditions can affect this schedule. In cold years figs will form later.

Winterize your trees -after they go dormant- in a very cool area, but try to keep them above freezing...around 40 degrees F. Your basement will probably be too warm. Your (unheated) garage will work. Water dormant trees just enough to keep the potting medium from drying out. Keep roots moist, but not wet. Containerized fig trees should be planted into a quick-draining mix, to prevent waterlogged roots. If your patio is warm and SUNNY, it might be possible to keep the trees growing all year, or, with a very short dormancy period.

Pinching out the terminal bud will limit upwards growth and will allow dormant buds to break further down on the trunk, forming side branches. Check this forum for pruning tips, and other sites to show other pruning techniques.

The above photo shows a tree that is stressed, with flagging leaves. I suspect that a larger container and some water have revived that tree. Keep you trees in some shade after re-potting until trees recover. Fig trees need a warm, full-sun exposure.

Good luck with your trees.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 6:41AM
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Hi Frank,

This is fantastic feedback. Thanks so much for the detailed response!

I'll definitely pinch off the buds to encourage better growth next year. I've also moved the tree into the larger bucket size and into a more shaded area. I think transplanting it and initially setting it in a very sunny area made it both more stressed and a bit overheated.

And the tip about the basement being a bit warm is great. My garage is unheated, so that will be perfect spot for the tree this winter.

Will definitely peruse the forum for pruning tips as well.

I'm so new to growing anything at all, and I appreciate the help!

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 9:46AM
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bibbus 7b(7b)

I have a brown turkey fig planted outside in zone 7. It only produced a very few figs the first two years after I planted it. Last year the winter was the worst ever and the entire plant above ground was killed. I thought it was dead or that only a few shoots would come up. But it tripled in size and is loaded with fruit all from new growth. You may want to consider planting it in the ground as it will grow so much faster and better than in a pot.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 9:39PM
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