How Cold Have Your Fig Trees Survived?

eukofiosDecember 13, 2008

Another posting led me to start this posting, given the cold winter weather that is looming in my area (Vancouver, WA).

I was wondering if fig hobbiests could post how cold their figs survived, protected or unprotected, which varietites?

My Petite negri, Hardy Chicago, Vancouver (Brunswick-like local find), Lattarula have survived unprotected to about 15 F, I'm not sure if it's been lower.

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Hey Daniel,
Hey thank you for the picture's of your trees you sent me nice pics.I have a Violetta Bayfrienge that is outside unprotected and we've had weather below 15 it's still alive.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 4:36PM
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mountainman0826(z8B TX)

My Dad's 90-year-old sister (quite a survivor herself), who lives on Zone 7A Lookout Mountain in Alabama where the average annual minimum temperature is 10 F and the temperature drops to 0 F for brief periods every few years, has an approximately 25-year-old tree (probably a Brown Turkey variant) that has survived and thrived without protection. It is on a west-facing slope and about 20 ft. from her house. My approximately 12-year-old Adriatic tree survives well without protection here in Zone 8B Austin, Texas, where the average minimum temperature is 20 F. The lowest temperature here in Austin in the quarter century that I have lived here has been 8 F on 2 occasions. However, even in a good fig climate like Austin, Texas, my fig trees that have some shelter against the wind and cold look much better than the varieties planted in an open field.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 8:11PM
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chills71(Zone 6b Mi)

I have a mystery fig in the ground and over the past 3 years I've had it, its survived -2 F (wrapped). Before I saved it from my wife's friend (who was moving and was told by the realtor that it was an eyesore and needed to be removed) it had survived Michigan winters for years unprotected and untended. I'm tempted to leave it unwrapped once it reaches 5 years old to see how it does.

This year I did skimp on the wrapping, though. I went through the trouble of building a shelter for it, but made a mistake in measuring and the shelter I made was for naught (but next spring I will fix it for the following winter). So all I did this year was put 2 bales of hay in-front of it and pack bags of leaves to either side (the back is against my unheated garage).


PS...the remainder of my figs are all potted and in my basement in a dark, cold preserving room.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 5:06PM
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We'll get a test cold snap tonight here. Supposed to go down to 15. It is a sudden cold snap from a few weeks in the 40's so the trees may not be ready for it.
We'll see in a few days. The cold snap will last about three days. Got my container plants covered with some sawdust at least.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 11:50PM
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Weather channel here predicts a low of 18 degrees for my zip code. I'm wishing that I kept track of previous years - this seems colder, earlier, than most winters. My King lost it's leaves with the frost last week. I think that all of the others were fully dormant.

Chills - it sounds like your tree will get the big test this winter - maybe it will turn out to be "Hardy Michigan"?

Mountain Man - Your aunt's tree gives me some hope as well.

This winter will be one to keep track of.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 12:18AM
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my hardy chicago, italian unknown another unknown, EL Sals, and VdB, My Argentile and Madeira Black are the 2 that are being protected as they were dormant when recieved and 1 is very small, all are in attached garage , its 9 outside and 21 in the garage. This is first year i have thermometer. The previous years i never kept tract of temps but will see coldest it gets in garage, course there is no wind except when door gets open which help. If i grew outside unprotected they would die to the ground or completely by me i would think unless shielded.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 9:34AM
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xgrndpounder(Z 8 E. Tx.)


Here is a link that you can check your weather history on.

It is a neat website, I check Hermans, Martins and Henry's weather
Just to name a few!


    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 10:15AM
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Well its going to be a little cold tonight going to 5 below by me, i rechecked weather and todays high will be 10, i went out to pick up some milk and things and the wind is still pretty strong, there expecting wind chills tonight as low as 20 to 25 below. Seems like as some others elsewhere are getting jan or feb weather so far in dec. Well cold is cold once its 15 above or 10 below its just cold to me, i really hope though the spring and summer are like last year minus the record rains we had.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 12:55PM
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We'll soon find out which figs are hardy in the Northwest!
Tonight is to be about the worst of it. Here, "just east of Tacoma", we're especting 18 degrees for our low. But we'll see tonight. I think when you get to 10 things like figs start to winter kill, but am sure it varies according to variety and the state of vigor etc.
Container plants are really at risk outdoors.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 9:26PM
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Thanks for the input everyone.

I don't have any mature figs in containers, so all of my fig trees are in 'one basket' so to speak. I did spray them with Wilt-Pruf last week, but I don't know if conditions were ok to polymerize the substance. This may have had the effect of making me feel better, rather than actually helping the figs.

My smallest is a 1-year old Desert King - last night I wrapped in in a towel and overturned a garbage can over it. The temperature was about 22F at the time.

It usually doesnt get "too" windy here. Since most cold damage is supposed to be from dessication, there is some hope with that thought.

From CRFG: "Fully dormant trees are hardy to 12°-15° F, but plants in active growth can be damaged at 30° F. Fig plants killed to the ground will often resprout from the roots". From "Italian Fig trees": "They thrive in areas where winter temperatures do not drop below 15°F (-10°C). Very young trees can be damaged by fall frosts...below 25°F (-4°C)." Purdue: "The tree can tolerate 10°-20° of frost in favorable sites."

We'll see. I'll be very bummed out if they die.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 10:21PM
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My unprotected Hardy Chicago had no damage at all last spring following a winter with several dips into single digits-lowest about 4 F. Other unprotected varieties (BT, Marsailles, Celeste?) had some slight die-back, but nothing serious. Two edible caprifigs, Enderub and Saleeb, had ~70-90% die-back. I will probably need to start protecting those last two if I ever want to get fruit.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 12:40PM
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I had only a few older figs that i had left unprotected and they were:
Florea :Made it down to -4F,unprotected,in 1997,98,99,2000.
Hardy Chicago made it trough:4F in 2005,8 F in 2006,14 F ,in 2007.
Also Marseilles vs ,black ,and Sal's(Gene strain),made it trough :8F,and 14F,in the last years.
Brunswick made it the same as last 2.
This is all I can report for sure,due to my rest of the trees being too young to leave unprotected.
I would like to point out that all figs are easy to get killed in the first 2 years if left unprotected,in a climate like mine.
So If you got an young fig,less than 3 years old,protect it as good as you can,using anything you have at hand like leaf bags,old carpets,old blanchets,etc.
Allwayes finish it with something rain proof on outside,and the fig will thank you.
Best Regards

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 2:45PM
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I have a 15 year old latarulla in the ground that I only covered its first year that has weathered 5 degrees F. It has died back a few inches up to maybe 1 foot in the past 15 years outside. Maybe it has gone below 5 degrees F but I am not sure.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 6:16PM
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Kiwinut, ejp, Herman,

You guys have all given me hope! Of course, there is still a lot of winter left, and it could get colder. But with varieties like my own surviving down to 4° or 5° in your orchards, there is still a fighting chance for mine too! The low for the rest of this week is now predicted as 19°

Herman, I'll take your advise and do more to protect my youngest tree. I'm also going to follow your example and start keeping some better records. Maybe.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 11:59PM
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i would say that cold around 10 degrees steady
for a couple of days coud kill the upper part
of the tree, i take no chances for the fact that
one year a mature tree the size of the house
died to ground level.
that is here on long island.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 12:49PM
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Marc, what type of fig was it?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 3:40PM
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guys: are we talking one night temps or all winter?

if one night temps then i believe it figs will survive.
if it is several nights, weeks and/or month unprotected outside it is very difficult to believe figs will survive unless they are inside some building where temps do reach:
4F, 6F, 8F, and or 15F but no winds?

please report back and give me some hope since I am waiting for the outcome of my solid frozen figs in containers.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 6:57PM
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My unprotected Brown Turkey fig tree apx. 18 feet tall and about the same across withstands temperatures into the teens regularly. About 25 years ago we went into the low single digits and the tree was killed back to ground level and did not come back up the following Spring but did the Spring after. The Brown Turkey does have 2 crops of figs but the first crop which is produced on old growth do not get as big or as sweet as the second crop which is produced on new growth about 6 weeks later. Some species of figs do produce a good crop on last years growth but generally not the BT.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 8:15PM
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