I have an Italian Honey fig and need advice about overwintering,

meyermike_1micha(5)October 1, 2010

This is my first time growing one of these and I would love any advice on what to do once in gets brought inside.

I do not know what kind of enviroment or light to provide for it.

I have a cool and very bright plant room with temps that get no lower than the 50'd during the coldest winter months.

I have two windows and a skylight in there, and someone told me they do not need the sun..Is this right?

Can I rest them in there in a bright spot?

Should I put it in my cellar which hovers into the 60's all winter, with very minimal light?

Should I bury them outside. I live in Mass with temps that get go below zero in winter..

I also have a shed that can get as cold as freezing and below, not heated with only one west facing window.

Any help will be so appreciated..

Much thanks!


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My plants died in Shed from frosted roots,so shed is not a good ideea.
Your places are not good to winter a fig tree.
Bury it outside next to southern House or building,(shed) wall.
When Buried,if outside temp.is 0F,4,inches under ground,is 20F.I sugest place some mulch over the spot where the fig is buried,or Bags of leaves,wich you will discard eventually in Spring,instead of Fall.
If you are sure you will have snow cover(6inches)or more all the winter these measure are not necesary,because snow is the protection,but if not snow,one night will kill the plant.
Weat, lives and grows under snow but dies,when snow is melted by warm days and then a cold day come on bare soil.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 1:33PM
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I winterize my Figs in my Garage. Temperature should be 35-42. 50 degrees is too high. It should be no more than 42 degrees and no lights to allow them to go dormant. You need them to sleep the winter and not to bloom. I use 1/2 cup of water a month for each pot. Wherever you put them you should have a barometer to make sure temperature hover around 35-42.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 12:57AM
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I think I am understanding the concept..

In other words if the room is warm, it will not go dormant, and to cold it will freeze...Most plants shutdown when temps lower into the 40's...So now, the only thing I can think of is to get some soft insulation and wrap the tree up, and then stick it in the shed where temps go no lower than the low 30's and 20's when outside temps get into the 0 range..?

Thank you...

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 5:31AM
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Hi Mike, I, too, have started to grow figs and now have small 4 trees. My oldest, Atreano, is now 3 years old. The first year that I had it, I kept it upstairs with my other plants and did not let it go dormant to let it grow. The next year, I kept it outside til frost and beyond to let it go dormant. Then I put it in my semi dark basement at a temp of approx 60 or slighty less (but guessing). When the plant starts to leaf out, I bring it upstairs and it starts to grow. I've been told that is not the best way to treat it, but I really don't have other options and it has been working out will. This year it gave me mature and edible fruit that was quite yummy.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 9:35PM
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OK I am glad it is working for you. But when the tree does not go dormant It will not have the vigorous bloom and the Vigorous fruit production to full capacity. They say the trees has a clock and they know exactly the time to go dormant and the time to bloom. I read in a book that when the tree is not allowed to go dormant the root gets exhausted for unnecessary Bloom. I allow all my trees to go dormant except the ever producing tomato however the Tomato trees are getting weak and produces small tomato like cherry tomato although it is not cherry Tomato. I am not an expert on Trees but I do a lot of research. I hope AL will chime hear.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 10:21AM
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My figs DO go dormant. They stay outside til it gets in the high 20s and then get put into the garage til the outside temps go into the lower 20s. They can stay in the garage sometimes til Thanksgiving. Only then do I bring them in for fear of killing them. After the garage, they are brought into the basement and stay there til they start to leaf out. Atreano starts first around February or March.

My book says that figs need less than 300 chill hours. Mine get WAY MORE than that.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 1:17AM
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Fruitnut, did you have to water yours at all?

I like these ideas from all of you..

Thank you very much!


    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 6:43PM
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Mike, are you asking me the question? If you are, yes I do water the figs while they are dormant, but only very little and not often.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 12:42AM
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My goodness, yes Citrusnut! Lol

I have been eating lot's of nice lately...lol

It is so good to be here with you too..Thank you


    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 2:23PM
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Hey Mike, we seem to like alot of the same plants. Nice to see you here, too. How may fig trees do you have? I've got 4 and definitely want more. Before this summer, I never ate a fresh fig.

Good luck with yours.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 10:09PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Howdy, Mike!
So you're into figs, now?! Ha!
How large is your fig tree?

I have a volunteer plant that sprouted.
I might dig it up.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 10:31AM
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Josh...lololol..What the heck are you doing here? Actually, I am gald you are here...If you haven't started growing figs yet, now's the time..lol

They are so pretty as they grow, and we can learn about these trees together as we start on a road to another addiction...lol

Almost every portugeese customer I have owns several of them, and it never occured to me to ask then how they do, until I haven't seen any lately....

My fig tree in about 5 feet high! I keep debating if I am going to dig a hole and bury the pot, then wrap insolation around the above part..Or do I insulate the whole plant, pot and all, and stick in mt subfreezing dark shed, or should I stick it in my attic, of which I have never registered the temps up there to see how cold it gets? I am curious now...

Good to see you.

Citrusnut: Sure seems like we are all drawn to the same plants! lol..Which one would you pick for storing if in my predicament?

Thank you!


    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 1:00PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Mike!

I'm Portuguese on my dad's side, from the Azorean island of Terceira...
So I guess I'd better get started on my fig collection! Ha!
I did an ethnography on the Azorean Portuguese and I learned that there are significant concentrations
in California and Massachusetts. Pretty cool!

Well, 5 feet high...that does make things more difficult. Can't just tuck it in a corner.

In my zone, many figs do well outdoors year-round.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 1:14PM
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I'm not an expert on figs but if it were me, I would bury the fig according to the system the Italians have. They have a long record of success with this method. I would also get a thermometer that records the lowest temperature so that you could leave it in the shed for the winter and know what was the lowest it got there. I would also wrap the thermometer as you would wrap your fig. I might also include a pot filled with soil the size of my fig pot. All this would be to simulate as closely as possible the conditions your fig would encounter if kept in the shed. That way you would be able to estimate, based on the severity of your winter, whether keeping the fig in the shed the next winter was an option. If you could safely keep the fig in the shed, I think it would be an easier and perhaps safer option because it would be easier to observe for rodent and cold damage and for bud break. Just my opinion.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 1:49PM
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Cath: What are you doing here too???!! Excellent. All my friends from the citrus side like figs too!!

Cath: Thank you for that advice..Many things to think of..

Josh: I will bet that you found them all to be in Lowell, specifically, lol! Every one here even owns a grape vine and makes their own wine...lol

I think it is time to get a fig too...Since you already seem to have mastery over growing just about every plant I know of, epecially Avacado and Citrus, I can you you doing great! In a corner..I wish..Temps here can go as low as below 0 many times outside...Ouch


    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 2:22PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yeah, I've got a few grape vines, too... ;)
I haven't made any wine for two years, though.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 3:33PM
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Hey Mike, 5 foot is quite a large tree. You do have a tough decision to make. Cath has some good ideas on the subject. Is the shed lone standing? Insulated? Minus 20 degrees seems awfully difficult to insulate against.

How about your attic? Is it large and easily accessable? For a large tree it would be best to have the attic be large with easy access. Is it insulated?

Digging a hole method is tried and true.

But being the lazy type, I like my method the best. It works for me. But all the methods have their pros and cons.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 2:57AM
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Hi Mike,
ive been reading this post and also live where temps get below zero and have a 14x10 shed in yard but i dont store in my shed ive learned my lesson many years ago.

Mike you typed this your 2nd post
So now, the only thing I can think of is to get some soft insulation and wrap the tree up, and then stick it in the shed where temps go no lower than the low 30's and 20's when outside temps get into the 0 range..?

Mike unless your shed has a heater going on in it when you made the above statement your shed temps will get colder than the 20s when its 0 outdoors maybe not the first day but soon afterwards.
I would not trust shed even with wrapped tree least in my area, an attic is much better.


    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 8:32AM
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Wow, I appreciate all of you here!!!!!

I like Citrusnuts method...I am going to try that..

I am going to keep close watch on the temps as it gets colder and colder..
If I put it in the basement, it would be in the 50's..With very little light.

How much light do yours get in the basement Citrusnut?
I have a 2x2 window that throws little light I can stick it in front of..

Dieseler, thank you for your input too..

Josh, no wine from your grapes? The people around here would cry hearing that!!

Thanks everyone!


    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 1:58PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Last year, the Raccoons got most of my grapes... :(
The year before, I think we made Boysenberry wine and Peach cordial instead of grape wine.
This year, the Raccoons made themselves scarce, and the Nectarines and Peaches were abundant!
But very few grape clusters developed...
C'est la vie!


    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 2:51PM
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Mike, my window is smaller than yours (1'x 2') When my trees go down the basement they are quite dormant and stay that way for months, so they don't really need the light.

I check on them regularly, water when necessary (a little approx once a month), and when they start to break dormancy (start to leaf out), I bring them upstairs and put them near a sunny window. Atreano leafs out early, VdeB and Italian Honey leaf out much later (at least they did last year).

Hi Martin.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 1:35AM
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Citrusnut, thnaks so much!

Tell me if I may ask..What are the temps usually in your basement at that time? Is that where the furnace for your home is? Does it stay in the 50's?

Thank a lot!

Josh, you are way too funny...lol. Those darn critters are always into everything over there...At least I only have to worry about suirrels and thedarn grey hog thing every spring that steals all my miragolds and lilies!...


    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 11:31AM
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Hey Mike, I think my basement is less than 60 degrees (thinking 55-60). It is cooler than the upstairs, but not cold. Will check temp this winter.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 1:55AM
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I have this fig tree, and live in northeastern Massachusetts. I have successfully overwintered it in a 55 degree room with several windows as well as in my darker and somewhat cooler cellar. Just water it once a month. I do it at the beginning of the month just as a way to mark the time.

In the brighter room, it begings to leaf out in late February, in the darker cellar it's closer to mid-late March. Start increasing the water when you've got a nice show of green tip/leaves. It gets trickier when it's time to move it outside in the spring. Do it gradually increasing the brightness or the leaves may burn.

Try to keep the temp above 45 degrees. Below that could cause damage. I've done it this way for at least five years. I stopped using the cellar when the tree got to heavy to lift, so the cooler room inside the house became its winter home.

I need advice on when to prune. Does it fruit less the year after pruning?


    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 10:19PM
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My bright room upstairs averages in the low 60's to 50's ..Sounds good too..

I did notice some little tiny white flies on the back side of the leaves...I have never seen these ever..I think they might be white flies..So I sprayed the leaves down with horticultural oil and hope they die while the leaves fall off so I won't bring them indoors..

Thanks again Citrusnut

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 9:55AM
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