Potted Fig Care EXTRAVAGANZA! and remember, Fruit Tree Fair this Saturday
Saturday’s Quick Open Mic Style Infomercial on caring for your potted fig at Fruit Tree Fair will not be quite enough to cover ALL the details. So here’s the detailed list of considerations:
Potted Fig Tree Care Workshop
Soil particle size:
If you can’t tell what type of soil you have by looking at it, try the ribbon test.
For a fig tree, you want a medium-sandy loam mixture with a pH of 6-6.5
If necessary, you can add a soil acidifier to your potting mix (pine needles or a store bought acidifier). Measuring pH is important! Since you’re planting into a pot it’s going to be harder for the pH to change over time as it would if you were planting into the ground.
Choosing Pot Size:
The final size for a pot should be large (25 gallons), but the tree can be transplanted up several times as it grows. When transplanting, you want to leave room for the rootball to grow out to support your larger tree.
Roots will grow towards the edge of your pot. That’s where water collects and where the roots want to be. Transplanting to a bigger pot will prevent the roots from winding around the pot and potentially girdling the tree.
Transplanting the Tree:
- Prepare the soil mixture.
- Fill the empty pot partway with the soil mixture.
- Remove the tree from its previous pot.
- Spread the roots as well as you can. You may need to use a soil knife depending on how dense your rootball is. You want to be able to pull out separate roots and spread them throughout the new pot.
- Plant the tree so that the root flare is level with the soil. If you plant the tree too high, the roots will start to die. If you plant the tree too low, the roots will start to grow up and may girdle the tree.
- Water the tree into the pot.
Pots dry out much quicker than the ground. In our nursery, we water our trees twice a week and give them 1-2 gallons of water. If your pot is sitting on a hotter surface than soil or mulch, you may find that you need to water more. As a rule of thumb, if the soil is dry for the top inch, the tree needs to be watered. In the winter, when the tree goes dormant, it does not need to be watered as much. You can allow the soil to be dry 2-3 inches deep before watering. Don’t overwater as this can cause root rot.
When watering, water the soil. If you water the upper part of the tree, it could encourage fungal growth and fruit splitting.
Foliar sprays can help to encourage growth every year. These can be sprayed once a month at most. At BOP we recommend using either seaweed/fish sprays or compost tea. Composts can be applied as a top dressing once a year. Quick release fertilizers can damage the fig’s root system and should be avoided.
Fruit thinning: for the first few years that you’re growing your tree, you may want to thin all the fruit off. This will encourage the tree to grow, rather than put its energy into producing fruit. You’ll get larger harvests faster this way.
Once fruit has set on the tree, start watering daily. This will let the tree grow larger and better tasting fruit!
Fruit will not ripen after picking.
Fruit is ready to harvest from August-October (or the first frost really)
Magnolia – Brown/Purple
Celeste – Brown/Green
When the temperature starts to drop below 10-15 degrees it’s time to winterize your Fig! You can follow these instructions if you want to winterize the top of your tree.
If you want to leave your fig outside, make sure you insulate the pot with burlap/straw/mulch/leaves. This will prevent the soil from getting too cold and killing the roots.
You can also bring your fig inside and store it in a warmer dark room. Less sunlight will allow the tree to go dormant, a necessary stage to ensure healthy growth and fruit production next year.
Don’t worry if the top of your tree dies, if the roots are alive, the tree will regrow. Fruit production will likely be lessened for 1-3 years.
Pruning encourages growth and fruit production. It also opens up the inside of the tree allowing for better light penetration and airflow.
Prune in the winter when the tree is dormant. This will give the tree time to heal and not leave it open to infection. Pruning in the summer also encourages growth rather than fruit production.
Two possible shapes: Single trunk, or bush
Pruning “Order of Operations”
Prune away dead wood
Prune away unwanted suckers (more of a big deal if you’re going for a single trunk tree)
Remove old wood
Never cut away more than ⅓-¼ of the total tree. This will stress it too much.
Both architectures are fine and the tree will produce fruit. If you plan on planting directly into the ground at some point I would recommend a bush shape as it’s easier to keep alive through the winter.
This achieves a lot of the same goals that pruning does. It allows more light in and better airflow. Don’t thin too much!
Caused by humidity and excess rain. A fungal growth that starts as small yellow spots on the underside of the leaf and will spread to cover the whole thing, causing it to fall early. This will stunt the growth of the tree and hurt fruit production, but won’t kill it.
Water in the morning
Careful pruning for airflow
Clean up infected leaves in the fall to remove overwintering habitat
Once detected, treatment will have to wait until next season.
Most sprays are not very effective. Prevention is the best defense against rust!
Place against a south facing wall
Few pest problems in MD
50-70 year lifespan