unheated garage survey

chills71(Zone 6b Mi)November 29, 2010

how many people leave their figs in unheated (preferably unattached) garages over the winter?

What size pots are you leaving out like this?

How many years have you done it?

Should one cover the window(s) or anything else?


asking because as of this year I am without assistance in moving 3 18-20 gal figs into the basement cold room and the garage might be where they end up....


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Bruce_in_ct(6 - CT)

I leave my figs in a very drafty, unheated, unattached garage. The largest is in a big pot (20 gal?) and the two small ones are in 1/2 gal to 1 gal pots. I've been doing this 10+ yrs with the big tree. I think the light that comes in the window helps the plants keep track of the passage of time.

After they're good and dormant, I spray my trees with three coats of Wilt Pruf, although some people say it's unnecessary. Maybe it is, but I will superstitiously keep using it. Why risk angering the fig gods?

Other important considerations are the fig variety - I only have Hardy Chicago right now and that variety is a proven winter survivor. Some varieties I had in the past didn't survive winters. Also, brebas almost never make it through the winter and that is a serious problem for some varieties.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 9:05PM
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I have an unheated attached insulated brick garage. I do open the garage door to drive the car in and out but do not leave it open for any length of time. Pots range in size from 1/2 whiskey barrels to about 2 gal. Any pots 12" or smaller are placed on top of the bigger ones. (It's cozy.) The small (about 3 gal.) Violette de Bordeaux from Raintree suffered some damage last winter - in some cases up to 1/3 of the stem. The rest of the figs had no to, rarely, minimal damage - an inch or less. The figs are ranged against the walls that are in the third of the garage closest to the house. The oldest fig is about 8-9 years old. They are not covered and not tied up. My experience with the garage has been that it overwinters zone 7 plants very well and zone 8 plants not at all.


I have successfully used Future floor wax and water 50/50 in an old spray bottle as a cheap substitute for Wilt Pruf. When I'm done I throw the bottle away.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 12:14AM
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I stuff all of my figs and pomegranates into my unheated garage here in zone 5 near Kansas City. My garage however, is attached with some bedrooms on top. I am careful about monitoring the temperature. Normally it does not get below 23 degrees which is getting near the lower limit - danger of really freezing and killing some roots. Last winter was rather brutal and I did add electric heat three evening for the first time in 4 years.
The temperature usually stays below 45 for most of the winter, so there is no chance of breaking dormancy.
My pots range from less than 1 gallon size up to 20 gallon pots, all stacked and stuffed within. I also water them about every two weeks so that the roots do not dry out.
You mentioned the weight issue with your pots, needing assistance to get them moved to the basement. I completely switched over to the gritty mix that has been discussed on this forum (substituted coarse perlite for the granite) and have been very pleased with the results. One of benefits I am enjoying is the light weight of the pots. Previously, the 15+ gallon pots were really taking a toll on my body. This year it was a breeze. My largest pot, the 20 gallon with a bushy 6 foot fig could be moved with one hand grasping on the trunk - It would be very easy with two hands. Just thought that I would mention a benefit.
I don't know all of the details about your garage, but if it is attached, you will get some benefit right away. If it is sealed up reasonably well, you might be okay. Monitor the temperature and be prepared to add some heat on a really cold night. For me, when the outside temp was below 0 deg F, I paid very close attention to the thermometer in the garage, especially if there were consecutive nights of severe cold. I hope this information is helpful.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 1:50AM
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I take my figs into an unheated/unattached garage every winter. My figs range from less than a year old (spring cuttings) to several year old trees. All various sizes. I have only lost a couple (I have around 50-60 total) and the ones I lost were visibly weak and less than a year old.

I'm sure your plants will be fine.

Here is what I do to avoid really harsh temps- Last year I bought a thermostatic outlet that turns on at 20 degrees/off at 30. I have many of my plants piled onto a rack and on the floor around the rack. I drapped a plastic drop cloth over them and ran an extension cord with the thermostatic outlet under the plastic and plugged in a cheap space heater (also under the plastic). The heater only kicked on twice all winter. Didn't lose one.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 2:37PM
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I know how heavy these 18 to 20 gallons pots because I have 7 of them. I ask my neighbors to help me because they get baskets of fruit every season. We put the pots on hand truck which you can turn into a dully and I drag it to the garage. The Garage is insulated and has a thermometer. I mulch the pots completely and every pot is put in a paper box to trap the heat at the roots. I think I live in zone 7 may be 8 I don't know. So far this year the temperature which I constantly monitor did not go below 40.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 10:58PM
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ohiojay(z6 OH)

I'm in central Ohio and kept my petite negra in my unheated, but walls insulated, garage. I put the container in a big garbage bag filled with straw and then tucked it away in a corner. The plant did well.

It fruited for the first time this past fall...very late. It is now in my greenhouse so the remaining fruit will ripen. My question is now how do I manage getting it into the garage? It will not be going thru any acclimation or dropping any leaves. Once the fruit are gone, should I go ahead and strip the remaining leaves and just place it in the garage? Thanks, J

    Bookmark   December 6, 2010 at 7:25AM
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Its 5 degree's outside and 22 degree's in garage now as i type this morning.
Figs in nice deep sleep , cardboard sleeved 1 to 3 gallon pots and unprotected rest up to 30 gallon pots.
Attached insulated garage.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2010 at 8:23AM
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I hesitate to give you advice because I have never done what you propose to do; transfer an actively growing fig from a warm sunny greenhouse to a cold dark garage (and because I think that you have more experience than I with tropical/sub-tropical fruit bearing plants). However, I have, in mid October, put a fig with all its green leaves in a cool dark garage. (Halfway there?). I did not remove the leaves because of time crunch but I think removal, as you proposed, is better. My method was messier but there were no problems of disease or anything else. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2010 at 4:51PM
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Hello everyone..I still a newbie here but still wanted to share..

Mine have been in my garage since the end of October since our first last frost.All the leaves dropped off shortly after that on my 5 foot one in a 5 gallon pot,while the leaves on my 2 gallon pot stayed on.

It has been very cold here recently and I decided to check on my trees wrapped in blankets and covered with other huge pots, just to realize the temp in there was 29 degrees.

it is my first time wintering these things, and since the little guy was in almost frozen mix, and the big one, not quite so because it was covered with blankets, I still decided to pull them into my shed since the temps in there are about 35 or so..

I hope they make it...They still look green and the next years buds look ok..
Keeping my fingers crossed..

I do not water since the cold soil seems to still be moist..I haven't had to water since October telling me that the plant is completely dormant and they were covered very well so they would not dehydrate.

Thank you for all your advice and experiences..


    Bookmark   December 10, 2010 at 5:50PM
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Have kept over 200 pots in my unattached & unheated garage all this while. Throw a blanket over them.

Plants range from 1gal to 20+gal size. So far so good. Some tender tips would die. I notice sometimes the dirt is frozen. If I have plant dying, it is usually the 1 gal ones. Like this year I had maybe 2 or 3. Such plants that die are usually plants that have issues struggling to grow after rooting. I find the most severe threat not coming from the cold but moisture resulting in root rot. I don't water pots above 2gal. Slugs seems to crawl out when warmer weather comes aroud and enjoy the tender tips/branches. They are hard to catch as they come out in the night. One can spot their slime trials.

This year for the 1st time I place a heater in the garage for 2 or 3 nights as we had wind chill to -20*C(-4*F). The average night temp for late Dec to Feb is usually -2 or -3*C(approx 26*F).

    Bookmark   December 11, 2010 at 1:19PM
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Scott I can help you move your trees into your basement next week one day after work I'll be in grosse pointe not to far from you so I wouldn't mind helping.I tried emailing you last week not sure if you still have the same email.Thanks and God Bless.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2010 at 1:51PM
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chills71(Zone 6b Mi)


I appreciate the offer, but as of now I have filled my "fig room" in my basement already (lol) So they're in the garage and that's where they're staying.

I did have 2 potted figs which were left outside during the 14 degree morning we had earlier in the week that I moved into the room Friday evening. I actually am kind of interested in how they are affected...Will they die or will it not make a difference in the long run (I have doubles of one and am not sure what the other one is, but I know its not one of the ones I'm likely to be upset to lose).

Strange fall here (not weather-wise) for me. Its 2 weeks before Christmas and I'm still not in the spirit. I did get my UC Davis request in, though so hopefully that's something to look forward to.

Hope everyone else's figs are safely sleeping as mine seem to be.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2010 at 10:55PM
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ohiojay(z6 OH)

Cath...thanks for your response. Bass, from Trees of Joy, told me to just strip the leaves and put the plant in the garage... won't hurt it a bit. So that is what I did... after pruning. J

    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 7:14AM
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