We have some fig trees that have been in the ground for a few years (around 2 feet tall). We covered them with a sheet when it was below freezing most of the time, but not always. The coldest temperatures were around 24 degrees. Each spring, around 6 inches of top growth dies. Most strangely though, the parts that are still alive take a month longer to start growing leaves than our figs still in pots. (It has been very warm for a month now, and the potted ones have full leaves, whereas the ones in the ground only have their tiny baby fig buds). It takes them so long to start growing each year that they hardly make any yearly progress in their size.
Why do the fig trees in the ground die back more, and why are they so delayed in growing each spring compared to the potted ones? The potted ones have been against the house.
How did large mature trees in my area first get established? I grew my trees from cuttings of those.
I think it’s mostly related to ground temperature. They leaf out around here when the soil gets around 55F. I’ve had the same experience with live shoots leading out later and it may be a survival mechanism since they don’t lose buds up high in mild frosts.
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The larger fig trees may be a very cold hardy variety. There seems to be a large variation in different variety's cold tolerances. We get down to about 20 degrees here, and I'm experimentimg with figs that can tolerate that cold.
If you can get seeds from your local mature fig trees (if they are good), you might could have a new good variety grow from the seed. You could also take a cutting from it and root it to get an exact copy of that fig tree.
Best of luck!
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