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Shelter (and shade) vs. Full Sun?

Posted by bart1 6/7 Northern VA (My Page) on
Thu, Apr 7, 11 at 8:56

Shelter (and shade) vs. Full Sun?

I'm new to fig growing. So new in fact, that I don't have any figs yet! I'm in the process of trying to determine the best locations for 3 or 4 plants. I'm in Zone 6b in Northern VA where the winter lows regularly drop into the single digits.

I can plant my figs out in yard and give them full sun, but they would be exposed to the wind, or I can plant them close to the house for some protection but they would be shaded for parts of the day. The house faces directly south but there's a raised deck in the middle on the front side. If I planted figs on the east side, they would get morning sun and afternoon shade and if I planted them on the west side they would get morning shade and afternoon sun.

I could also plant them directly in front of the deck which will give them the best sun exposure (but still a little morning shade), but I�m a little worried that their roots may damage a 3-foot retaining wall just below the deck. (There's only about 2.5 feet between the retaining wall the deck).

So given all that background, should I:

1) Plant in full sun, but also full wind
2) Plant in a more sheltered location with morning sun and afternoon shade
3) Plant in a more sheltered location with morning shade and afternoon sun
4) Plant above the retaining wall and hope the roots don't do any damage (this one makes me nervous)

The varieties I have ordered are Celeste, Hardy Chicago, and Oregon Prolific.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Shelter (and shade) vs. Full Sun?

Northern Va and zone 6 strange. I am in Annapolis Maryland and the Mab says Zone 7a. This zone thing is the most confusing to me. If I you my worry should not be sun and shade. Although I am not one of those Gurus I think 6 to 8 hours of sun is enough. The most worry will be the Winter cold and Freeze. That is why in Zone 7 or whatever I planted my Figs in pots which I dig-in in the Garden in Spring until November or December 15 then I take them back inside the house in Winter. Also on a side note when you buy new Fig trees don't push them in full sun immediately you have to plant them in shade with little sun until established. I learned that the hard way after murdering two Fig Trees.

RE: Shelter (and shade) vs. Full Sun?

Most important thing is not to do anything that your gut tells you not to do. #4 is completely out. What's more work? Rebuilding a retaining wall or replanting a fig tree and waiting a few years. For me, you want strong afternoon sun. As to the wind, keep it low and grow like a bush. This way you can trim it down at the end of fall to 3 ft and then throw leaves or insulation on it. You then close it up with plywood like a box. I plan on doing this when my trees get bigger and I plant them inground from pots. Between the insulation and geo-thermal heat, your tree should be fine.

I have the same problem as you do in terms of location. I lose my whole front yard to a septic and leachfield. Almost a 1/3 acre so I plant all my lilacs and fruit trees along the perimeter. Full sun and open to wind. No problems the last year. Only damage was this year was from heaviness of snow. Plywood protects all that.

RE: Shelter (and shade) vs. Full Sun?


I have a fig tree on the about 8 feet from the East and West side of my North/South oriented home. Same situation as you. They grow and fruit with no problems. However, if your winters typically dip to the single digits, you are going to have to protect your fig trees either regardless of what side you plant them (especially if you plant any San Pedro types). Good luck!

RE: Shelter (and shade) vs. Full Sun?

  • Posted by bart1 6/7 Northern VA (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 8, 11 at 11:19

Thanks everyone!!

foolish: I'm way out west in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mts. My house is 750 feet above the main road and it's often noticibly cooler up there than it is down at the mail boxes. It's also much cooler at the mail boxes than it is in town (DC).

nypd: Great point - the retaining wall location is out! Thanks for the insulation tips. I planned to do something, but the plywood shelter didn't occur to me.

igo: Thanks for the personal experience. Good to know I will (could!) be growing more than leaves!

Thanks again,

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