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Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Posted by olympia_gardener 5 (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 2, 12 at 16:21

I have fig tree grow in a large pot. Over the weekend, I just causually talking to my mailman who delivered my package to the door. He said his dad grows fig tree in the ground in Chicago area, Zone5b for years. The fig tree bares fruits every year too. Before I further explore his dad's method of growing fig trees, I am wondering if anyone in this forum ever grew fig tree in ground in Zone 5 before?? If anyone do/did, how did you manage to make the tree survive in the cold , long winter temperature?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

My buddy dose here in the south burbs of Chicago. He wraps it up in winter and all that good stuff. I just leave everything in pots and move them in winter. Frank


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Franks. Thanks. Do you know how he does it in details? What material does he use to wrap the tree trunks? or branches too?
My tree is in the pot and has to be moved in and out of the garage. I am getting more plants every year and garage is getting crowded in winter time. I wish I could plant the fig tree in the ground.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

olympia gardener:

You like working without a net?

A sub-tropical fig tree, in-ground, in Zone-5 is just asking for disaster. The work it takes to wrap fig-trees takes a hell of a lot more time than bringing a tree in and out of a garage. Do yourself a favor and place your tree on a dolly, and ROLL it in and out. All it takes is just one lousy winter, and your tree's gone, or branches are dead, damaged, rotted, moldy, diseased....end result...no figs.

This forum has plenty of information involving the conditions that you describe. Pay attention to all of the postings that show photos of winter damage and dead, wrapped, trees. I live in Zone-7, NYC, and I wouldn't take the chance of losing my trees to freezing. weather. I grow my trees in large containers and roll them in and out of an unheated storage shed each season...and, I,... keep my fingers crossed!

Good luck with your figs.

Frank


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

BronxFigs-Frank, I don't know what type of fig tree you are growing. I know mine is hardiness to 0 degree! If I was in Zone 7, I would have my Chicago Hardy fig to grow in the ground for sure.
There are a lot of advantages of growing tree in the ground. It is its natural place to grow with seasons. It also gets enoguh leg room to grow when it needs to. It can grow to its full potential and bear more and large fruits. It also doesn't take up indoor space, a fig tree braches spead and can occupy more space than I am willing to give.

My potted fig tree does not fruit reliablely every year. It bare baby fruits over the winter in the garage in general but sometime the fruit did not develop into full size fig the next spring; sometime, it was rubbered off accidentally, sometime , there is just no fruits, period. Every year there something happes with all the winterized plants all jammed in garage. It is much better to grow the tree in the ground if there is a way so it can fruit reliablely every year.

People here are growing fig trees in ground. My mailman confirmed his dad does; fespo-Frank confirmed one of his buddy grows fig tree in ground in zone 5b. They are not crazy, they are not asking for disaster, they are creative. They find a way to outsamrt the nature.

I further inquired my mailman about his dad's method of growing the fig tree in ground in Chicago. I was told that his dad pins the branches down to the ground, fig tree braches are pliable, then put a thick layer of mulch over it. When weather gets warm, he just remove the mulch, unpin branches. All the braches springs right back to the air and starts new growing season again. His dad's fig tree has been there for 10-15 years, as far as he recall.
I am going to make a appointment with this genise to further learn his technics so I can get my fig tree out of garage. I bet my fig tree likes to be grown in the ground much better than in a pot in the garage.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

olympia gardener:

Growing a tree in the ground does have many, many advantages over a container-grown plant, and after reading about by all the in-ground fig trees growing in your area, I'd say: ..."good luck, .... go for it".

I like to have as much control over my fig trees as possible, especially, some control over the winter temperatures and storage conditions. That's why my trees are in containers. I've been doing this since 2007, and I get dozens of figs every year that are ripe and sweet. If you plant your trees in the ground, you will be able to control almost nothing except maybe some watering in dry spells. Your trees will live only if you can protect them from the killing, bitter cold. Protecting fig trees from freezing winters is always a gamble and your friends have just been lucky. Nature will always trump your best efforts to control her.

You asked if it was possible to grow a fig, in-ground in Zone-5? The answer is: yes...anything is possible. How long your trees will live will be entirely up to you. Genetically, your trees are sub-tropical, even your "Hardy Chicago". Expose them to the wrong growing conditions and they will die, or be badly damaged by your winters. All it takes is just one bad winter.

Frank


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

  • Posted by sffog 10/SanFran (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 3, 12 at 19:50

check the gardenweb poster"tapla" he is experienced in container figs and i think he lives in a cold snowy zone, i would say he is the expert.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Hello

Yes its possible to grow a fig tree in the ground. I live in canada zone 5A we have long very cold snowy winters hear and i have 4 in the ground and have been in the ground for about 10 years. 2 of them i cover them really well and the other two i bury them in the ground it does take alot of work to get them ready for the winter but i think it's well worth it. The only problem i had was mice and rats eating away at my tree's but i have taken care of that problem i got a cat now.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Thanks all for the inputs.

massimo, I am glad that you grow fig in ground successfully in 5A!. Sounded like you have outsmarted nature even more further. I have few questions for you if you don't mind:
1)Are your trees Hardy Chicago fig or different variety?
2)When you said two of them , you cover them really well, what exactly do you mean?... You mulch it? how deep is the mulch you need ? Or you just covered with some kind of plastic tarp?
3)What type of mulch works the best?
4)Do you pin all the branches to the ground as well or just prune most of the braches off to make them short so they are easy to be covered??
5)When you bury the other two, do you use soil to bury them or something else?
6)Two differnt methods you are using, which one works better with your experiences?
7) out of 10 years, how many years the figs ripe before the season ends? usually, how productive are the fig trees?


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Grandmother grew a fig tree inground in the 1960s and uncles would tie with burlap then dig around base and bend it over into a deep dug trench, they then covered with plywood and shoveled dirt ontop of that.
When complete it look like a fresh grave in cemetery.
The wood made it easier to dig up following year without shovel damage to tree.
Tree grew in Chicago .
Martin


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

In summary, certainly it is possible, and there are ways to do it, but it will be some work. The more certain you want to be of the survival of the tree, the more work it will be.

For example, burying the tree in the ground each winter like Martin suggests certainly has to be a ton of work, but will almost certainly result in the tree surviving.

One way to make the burying easier is to grow the main trunk horizontally close to the ground. Then you can even mound up the dirt over it if you wish. They do it this way in Japan and cover with rice hulls, I believe (see link). I've never tried this myself, but would like to one day.

Here is a link that might be useful: Japanese Fig method


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Martin, your confirmation greatly encouraged me to dig up the dirt and unpot my fig tree to where it belongs. My tree is not big and open centered so it will be very easy to pull all the branches down to the ground. I like the description of " When complete it look like a fresh grave in cemetery". My mailman said similar thing,he siad it looks like a body buried there!

Rob23b, Thanks for the link. Thoese are certainly very interesting pictures and different method of growing figs.
Do you know if they are covered up in cold season or just grow closer to the ground? There is face down U shape steel structure all around,I bet when it is cold, they are covered with some sort of plactic sheet. So basically, These trees are growing in removable greenhouse in cold season which isvery common practicein Asia. They are not buried. But I could be wrong.
"grow the main trunk horizontally close to the ground." is not Japanese invention. There is thread in Orchard forum talking about people in northern states grow fruit trees that way in 1800. Very interesting artical.

I thanks all for your contriution to this thread.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Adrianosfigtrees.com has some tips on covering fig trees in the winter in Canada.
Terry


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Yes I believe they are covered with plastic sheets. I read somewhere that the trees were also covered in rice hulls. Supposedly rice hulls provide superior thermal insulation, and are no doubt abundant where rice is such a large part of the diet.

Presumably this would lower the heating costs of the greenhouses, assuming they are actively heated at all. Perhaps with the plastic coverings and the rice hull insulation, it is not necessary to provide any additional heat.

Wish I read Japanese. I can only guess the details.

Rob


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Rob,Nothing goes to waste in Japan. Using rice hull is pefect solution for plants and their owner.I assume the rice hull will not be too expensive for as you pointed out, there is abundant of it. It must have provided enough insolation for the trees.

Have you heard that rice hulls will generate heat too in a pile? I am not sure how true this claim is and is very interested to have someone to confirm that.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

  • Posted by noss Zone 9a Lafayette, L (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 6, 12 at 23:28

We used to be able to get rice hulls free at the rice mill nearby. We would go into the pile with rusty shovels and after getting the rice hulls into the garbage cans, the shovels would be so polished by digging into the hulls that they would reflect the sun, with not a rust speck on them anywhere.

Rice hulls will blow all over the place if they get dry and they rot. I would think if they rot, that would generate heat.

noss


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

If you stack a bunch of rice hulls in a pile and provide moisture, it will certainly heat up quite a bit, just like any good compost pile. It could easily heat up enough to kill a fig tree.

So you would have to keep it dry. I believe they somehow mold the rice hulls into large solid blocks. These have a high insulation value. If you were to stack these around and above the trees and keep dry, covering with plastic or such, that would probably add several degrees of cold protection.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

I have the Ortho book "Citrus and Other Subtropical Fruits." In the Figs section, they have instructions/diagram on bending and burying the tree for winter survival.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

  • Posted by noss Zone 9a Lafayette, L (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 10, 12 at 23:43

Rob,

That's really neat, using blocks of rice hulls like that. I wish we had that here.

noss


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Hi, I would like thank you all for your inputs. I learnt a lot from this forum. I just planted my fig tree in the ground yesterday. I think it will be much happier in the ground where it can stretch its "legs".

I will check out the Ortho book on details of wintering the tree. I may need additional details/help from you who has successfully done the practicing in the fall.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Hi, olympia_gardener

Since you've put your fig tree into the ground this
spring, now I suppose you've covered the tree well
or have it buried into the ground.
Just curious, how tall and what variety is your fig tree?

I have the same story, my fig tree was indoored
for several years before I had it planted into the ground
this summer. It is hard to move a heavy pot in and out of the home every year and I was getting tired of the move. My fig tree is about 3 1/2 feet tall.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

fignewbies, mine is about the same size as yours and has been in ground since this spring. it grows very happily. I did not dig and bury it in the ground. Instead, I bought 15 bags of mulch (2cf each ) and just weigh down the branches with bag of mulch on top. It is about 3' tall. When the temperature is consistently below frozen. I am going to cover it with a tarp, maybe throw a piece of old carpet on top as well.
Good luck with your tree.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Hi, olympia_gardener:

In this mid-October I started to cover my tree since there
were 2 nights that were -1C (30.2F).
The tree is in a corner, at its left side (2 feet away)
is my shed and behind it is a retaining wall about 3 feet high.
I put a mesh wire (a little more than 1 1/2 feet high) circling the little fig tree at the base. As the mesh wire
was sturdy, it was like a battle to have it wrapped around
the tree (it seemed to have a mind of its own). I put in
some fallen leaves inside the mesh wire. Put 4 bricks
around the mesh wire to add height and put my garbage
can upside-down to cover the tree. Then I wrapped the
mesh wire with an old carpet at the base.

But the weather was always fluctuating ......, sunny and warm during some days (10C/50F), then the next day was
around 2C/35.6F.

So poor little tree was having a bad time....
About 14 days ago, I opened the garbage can to check my little fig tree. There was condensation occured on the small branches and had mold. A few tips bud died as a result.
So I removed the garbage can as the tree cannot breathe through it. I put a small cardbox to contain the top branches and added a much bigger cardbox (used to transport a 27" TV) for a final cover. I put six huge paperbags stuffed with fallen leaves around the fig tree to block the wind.
My neighbors must be wondering why I was taking
their bags of fallen leaves!

Now the temperature is stable around 4C/39.2F(daytime T)
and -5C/23F(nighttime T).
I still have to go back to stuff in more fallen leaves
for this little tree.
My family thinks I am going nut covering this fig tree
with such efforts.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Hi, olympia_gardener:

How is your tree doing?
Someone of this garden forum once said it is the
cold wind that makes the dormant fig tree branches
brittle.
I went back to cover my little fig tree with more
fallen leaves yesterday.
Today weather is warm again at round 13C/55F,
tonight will go back to about -2C/28.4F.
The fig tree would appreciate those leaves.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

The opinion of a person who has never had to protect a fig tree, but knows very well the figs.
The resistance at temperatures round of 0 F is common.
However, there are certain conditions that must be considered.
1) The figs grown in moist soils (in summer) maintain the condition of herbaceous stems, which are poorly resistant to the cold.
2) The young plants have vegetation faster, and therefore more sap, and the young plants are much less resistant to cold (ALL plants, and not only figs).
3) The plants grown in the shade (in the summer) have softer wood.
4) The USDA zone have a huge approximation, a local condition can produce very favorable difference (such as a wall or a slope that protects from the cold wind, and DRY).
5) The protections (all) are not very useful, except in the early years.
6) An uncovered rocky soil, sandy, store many more calor than if covered by grass. In the original ambient of the fig the grass in summer do not exist, is burned by the sun.
7) If another tre or an home shade the fig, the sun radiation is reduced, is obvios but you have to consider.

result:
When you plant a fig tree in a cold site, consider that you are lucky if it dies to the ground each year, in early years, but in the spring grows again, this happens better if you have protected the soil with plenty of mulch of leaves, THE first years. (leaves: those you have at home, no need to go to Japan). AND YEAR AFTER YEAR BECOME OLDER.

Though the fig tree has the ability to bring down the deep roots, these are less susceptible to the cold.

If you like to have brebas, you should know that these sprout from the buds of the past year, on apex of the old branches, that may be damaged by frosts.

If you want the second fruiting (true figs) these arise from buds produced again in the spring (so not subject to frosts), but they need a long hot season to mature.

In syntesis: sun irradiation for many hours, and hot in summer, dry deep and well drained soil, are more important that the cold in winter, if the plant survives.

The cultivation in pot or in ground are competely different; in ground an adult tre may be become large, and produce a lot of fruits. And do not need any care.

Take attention to the condition BUT IS an attempt to do.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

I'm starting cuttings this winter for my first fig trees, so just learning from you guys. This is a pretty basic question. Why not just cover the trees with fresh tree clipping mulch? Then it can be scattered over the ground come spring to mulch the soil around the plants to keep grass and weeds down. Is there any reason that would not work? I would hesitate to make it too deep, or heat would likely build up and maybe kill the tree. But I'm thinking a foot or so might not be too bad. What do you think?


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Hi, Thank you all for sharing the methods of wintering the in ground fig tree, especially appreciate all the encouragement. Here is the result one year after. The figs are in good size, about 1 1/2" diameter now.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Hi, olympia_gardener:

The sight of a fig fruit is always so delightful, it is worth all the efforts you put for winterizing the fig tree.

Just curious after reading your profile, do you have your Sweet Olive in the garden or indoor? I'd love to plant one too in my garden but do I need to winterize it like a fig tree?
Thanks for your info!


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

fignewbies, Thanks. A lot of people in this forum helped me to overcome the fear of losing the tree. I am sure my tree is happier than ever in ground. When it was in the pot, the root get too hot in the summer; water supply is not regular, sometime too much water, some time not enough water so tree leaves wilt...all sort of problems. Ever since this tree is in ground, it get has found its freedom, gets all the space it wants. I got my freedom too, don't have to baby sit this tree any more.

It is not that hard to winter this tree either. Many people talk about bury the branches, I think it is a good idea. but I did not bury my tree. By fall, I just bought 10 bags of left over 2 cf bark mulch ( on sale for $1 each) from local grocery store. I use these bags to weight the branch down the ground and in the center I add some dry shredded paper then put a sheet of plastic/tarp on top to cover all. In the spring, after the temperature above 32 degree, I just took the tarp off first and removed the bags... let nature takes care of the tree...

I love the scent of Sweet Olive , so fragrant in the later fall /early winter. If I could I would grow one in ground . But I think I will grow one inside as well to add some fragrance in the air during the dull winter months. If you are looking for one, the orange colored one, golden Sweet Olive is the most fragrant variety among 4 season bloom, and silver( light yellow/cream colored).


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

I recently received a baby fig cutting and need to find out the best way to care for it for the winter. I know it is a bad time but it needs to be repotted (in tiny shipping pot) and is about 8 inches tall. It is outside in an east screen porch but the nights are getting cold. Do I let him drop leaves or bring it in now? I have a basement cold wine room that he can winter in.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

I recently received a baby fig cutting and need to find out the best way to care for it for the winter. I know it is a bad time but it needs to be repotted (in tiny shipping pot) and is about 8 inches tall. It is outside in an east screen porch but the nights are getting cold. Do I let him drop leaves or bring it in now? I have a basement cold wine room that he can winter in.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

If I have a fig baby that small (8"), I think I would put this baby indoor very soon!
The fig drops its leaves when it wants to go dormant!


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Thanks, I brought it in this week and will put it under my grow light. If/when it drops its leaves I will put it in the basement till March and then bring it out.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Hi,
My friend sent overnight a fig cutting from New York about 4 years ago. I rooted it then put it in the ground. Then I suddenly had to move within a few months so I moved it with me. In its new place it got mowed over twice by professional mowing crew that does our yard. This just about killed me. But it still came back. The first winter I put stakes up around it and covered it with burlap. It made it fine but I only got a few figs. The second year I read to cover it and put hay inside the burlap. This worked beautiful. It's been two years I've been doing this and this year I got over 150 beautiful figs. Now it's too big to cover so I'm not sure what to do. I think I'm going to try to cover it again the same with more burlap and a larger base. I'll try some of your ideas about the boards etc.
I think most figs are hardy. If you wrap it good and use hay it will do fine. I live in St Louis, MO. Which is the same zone of where I used to live in Brooklyn where the fig is from. The figs you get off the tree make the work very worth while! I'm making fig wine this this year because I had so many figs.
Hope this helps.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Hi,
My friend sent overnight a fig cutting from New York about 4 years ago. I rooted it then put it in the ground. Then I suddenly had to move within a few months so I moved it with me. In its new place it got mowed over twice by professional mowing crew that does our yard. This just about killed me. But it still came back. The first winter I put stakes up around it and covered it with burlap. It made it fine but I only got a few figs. The second year I read to cover it and put hay inside the burlap. This worked beautiful. It's been two years I've been doing this and this year I got over 150 beautiful figs. Now it's too big to cover so I'm not sure what to do. I think I'm going to try to cover it again the same with more burlap and a larger base. I'll try some of your ideas about the boards etc.
I think most figs are hardy. If you wrap it good and use hay it will do fine. I live in St Louis, MO. Which is the same zone of where I used to live in Brooklyn where the fig is from. The figs you get off the tree make the work very worth while! I'm making fig wine this this year because I had so many figs.
Hope this helps.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Yes, any one can grow figs in ground in a zone 5, in the north. We have been able to grow them.

We have been growing and testing for figs that can be grown in our zone 5b/6a location, for around ten years. We have in test plots or pots around 26 different figs, that are suppose to be cold hardy and or rare.

After ten years of testing we found 3 figs that do very well in our zone 5b/6a Connecticut location, grown outside, in ground.

In order to grow figs in a cold climate, you need more then just a fig that is cold hardy. You also need a fig that is rain resistant, when the fig is ripening. If not you will end up with all the ripening fruit exploding, just before they are ready to be picked

A fig that is late winter/early spring, sun resistant. Your cold hardy fig might make it through the winter, only to be killed by late winter sun.

A fig that will ripen early enough to beat your first frost. If it does not, you will end up with a lot of green figs, that never ripen.

A fig that produces more then just a hand full of figs. That is if you want enough figs for fresh eating, fig wine, preserves, and so many you can share with your friends.

A fig that is FMV resistant. Or at least a fig that can over come the disease if and when it is infected. If not the fig will never be cold hardy.

A fig that can produce sweet figs even in cold northern soils.

I can send to any one who request it, a list of northern climate, cold hardy figs we are testing, and the results of our testing.

Along with the names of the only three figs that we recommend for main crop figs, for northern gardeners.

We are still working on the best breba crop figs for the north. We have several that are showing a lot of promise.

These three main crop figs, make growing figs in ground easy, and enjoyable in cold climates.

We feel these three figs are more cold hardy then Hardy Chicago.

If interested, send request for list to robertcharper@gmail.com

Bob Harper zone 5b/6a - Conneticut


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

That is nice of you doing this search for optimum fig for the cold regions of the north. Wishing you success in your efforts.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

Ottawan, you're even farther north then I am.

5a, would make your area 5 degrees colder, in the winter then we are here in Connecticut.

Do you have a list of what has worked for you?

Have you been able to find any older in ground trees in your area?

I hear that Colosanti dark was discovered in your area.

What do you think of Colosanti Dark?

Do you think it is more cold hardy the Hardy Chicago?

Bob Harper


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

I have overwintered a large Celeste fig outside since 2007 in my zone 5 Central Massachusetts location. In late fall I cover the entire tree with large amounts of sheep wool. I will be curious to see if the tree made it this year, since the winter was horribly cold with very deep penetrating frost. I purchased a tree from a farm in Wendall, MA called Companions of Health. This farm has dozens of trees growing inside and outside of unheated poly greenhouses and harvests about 5000 figs per year. I am eager to establish this fig since the fruit is very tasty, too. I do not like the taste and appearance of my Celeste fruit and will not mind if I have lost the tree due to the cold.


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RE: Is it possible to grow fig tree in the ground in Zone 5?

chervil2,
Thanks for your post.
what varieties are the trees at Companions of Health nursery that you are contemplating to acquire?

Regards

Damir


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