Help with my new NY Fig Tree in MO

TapeuperSeptember 1, 2011

I received a cutting from a friend in Brooklyn of a wonderful Fig Tree that has been growing in Brooklyn for 50 or 60 years (maybe more since that is how long they have lived there). It rooted very well and I planted it. It grew fast and beautiful to about 4 feet tall. But suddenly and unexpectedly I had to move and could not bear leaving it, so I dug it up as carefully as I could and moved it (same city). It was August and it did very well. When fall came the leaves fell off. I wrapped it with burlap and hoped for the best. Come Spring it was apparent that the base up was dead. Then the mowers accidentally mowed it down to my horror!!!!!! But a few months into Spring a sprig came out and it grew a new shoot straight up. It is about 5 1/2 feet tall and looks fabulous.

Here is my question: It has two other shoots coming off the side. One shoot is about 3/4 as high as the main shoot and the other is about three feet high. I also noticed another baby shoot coming out. I want a tree and not a bush so should I cut off these shoots. Or is it better to leave them for more figs? I live in St Louis, MO (Zone 5?). Also I read to wrap and fill it with hay. Does that mean inside the burlap all the way up the tree? Sorry I am new at this. I put up four post and wrapped the post last year. This was not successful at all:(

Thanks so much!!! I can post pics if you like:)


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Yes to alot of your Questions

A bush shape will certainly bear more fruit. You can pick the thickest shoot and train that to be a center leader to becaome a tree shape.
Cut off the other shoots and keep pinching off all new shoots from the ground. You obviously can start more trees if you would like.

On the burlap, you fill inside the bag. Some even put a 5 gallon bucket upside down on top to let moisture run down on the outside. Moisture on the inside will potentially cause mold to occur. Be careful in spring not to remove too soon. Pick a day that frost is least likely to happen. It's not that big a deal to lose the first crop by the tips possibly dying from frost. You would just have to wait a little longer for main crop- July/August. But you do have to balance the warmth because it will start growth inside as well.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 10:17AM
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Thank You So Much!!! I was so afraid to cut them. This will help me make a decision as to what I want. I do want to share it so I will cut off some to root for others. This fig is extremely easy to root by putting it in water and a sunny place. Thanks for the explanation on how to protect it in the winter too! I hope this winter it makes it.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 1:28PM
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Tapeduper, we have about a dozen or so figs planted in-ground, in zone 5 in Connecticut

We, bend all of them down to the ground late November. Or when all the leaves fall off. We then tie the branches together, cover them with about 4 inches of dirt, and then cover that we aluminum insulation.

Although we have only been doing this for two winters, we have never lost a plant. It has gotten as low as minus 11 degrees Fahrenheit and minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the winters of 2009, and 2010

Brooklyn, I think, may be a zone 7?
which is a warmer then a zone 5. As far as I'm concerned bending to the ground and covering, offers the best possibility of the plant being able to survie, as a bush.

I would think, a zone 5 would be to cold to grow it like a tree.

Hope that helps.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 1:59PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I have to agree with Bob. Don't see how you will grow a fig as a single trunk tree in Z5. We can't do it here in SW Texas in Z7. Last winter nearly all the bushes froze to the ground.

This is the biggest fig in Alpine Texas and in a favored location. Probably 30-40 years old. It nearly froze to the ground last winter.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 3:10PM
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Thanks Bob,
I read about that years ago in a magazine. They actually buried the whole plant on it's side. I looked up my zone this morning quickly and one chart said zone 5. But after I read your post I did some more research and I found the USNA Chart. It said that my area in St Louis is 6b. So then I looked up Brooklyn and it is 6b! I always thought our weather temps where similar. I used to live in several differnet places including upstate and Brooklyn. Thanks for the info! I had no idea that one state could have four different zones in it! NY is anywhere from a 4-7. So, I am thinking if I wrap it right it should make it.

I found some nice info here on wrapping to get the fig to go dormant in the second post:

Here are the links to the maps on zones.

Now I am thinking I will root the shoots and pot them for potted plants and try both. I wonder if it is too late to pot them for the winter now. I have a nice place to store them inside a storage room that is like storing them in a garage.

When I was little and live in Florida my Grandmother had a fig in her back yard that I could eat a many as I wanted to in the summer. I long to have my very own. I hope this one will make it! Thanks again!
Here is a link below to see it:)

Here is a link that might be useful: My Fig Tree

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 4:16PM
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Wow, What a tree!!! Thanks for sharing! I guess I better think twice before trimming shoots. We do have some Figs in what everyone here calls "The Hill". It is the old Italian section of St Louis. I have been told it has some big figs that grow in peoples yards. I sure would love to get a clipping from them hardy fellows:)

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 5:32PM
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What would work best would be root some cuttings and plant them is large pots, 5 gallon minimum, then bring them inside for the winter and set them back out in the spring.
You could place mulch around the base of the pots to let the trees grow larger the prune off the roots to bring back inside for the winter.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 1:18AM
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Just wanted to give an update on my fig. My fig has been doing very well here. I wrap it up every winter with burlap and then fill it with hay. Last summer I had about 20 pounds of figs. It was incredible! We had a very hard winter this year so I will have to see if it made it through. I have a cutting rooted just in case.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 1:55PM
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