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Fig expert needed  RSS feed

 
Posts: 37
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
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So I planted a Jordan variety fig the summer of 2016, in a fairly exposed location because my options were limited. That winter record cold hit us and I thought it had died, pulled it from the ground and threw it in a pot, it came back summer 2017 but mostly from shoots coming out of the base. Currently it is in a very large pot in my warm house by a grow light. I've noticed the leaves at the base are super healthy looking but the leaves growing from the original top of the tree look pretty terrible. Could it be that the trunk itself got somehow partially killed and so the tree is having trouble properly growing from the top? If so, should I just cut the original trunk to where the healthy shoots are coming out?


Attached are photos to show the oddly spotted and browning leaves vs the perfect big green specimen.
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pollinator
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Location: Ashhurst New Zealand
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Weird. It almost looks like infection or insect damage. Are there any signs of sucking or chewing pests like thrips or spider mites? I suppose it could be related to the frost damage, but usually that manifests as dieback of the exposed tips. If it's bugs, they could be discouraged or killed off with soapy water.

If you can't figure it out and it doesn't improve with spring warmth and longer days, I'd say to lop off the affected part and let the healthy part go its own way. You could always try to root the top and see if it sorts itself out in the future.
 
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Hi, while not a fig "expert" I do have a few years' experience of growing figs, including successfully rooting cuttings, transplanting and simply observing some mature fig trees. I wouldn't worry about those leaves. Fig leaves go like that, fall off, and new ones grow. Good to see that the pot it's in is a big one, as they have an extensive root system. Stick it back outside after risk of frost has passed and it should be fine.
 
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This is an excellent little book http://stevenbiggs.ca/about-thefigpig/ Steven Biggs is s hobby grower with lots of expertise.
I don’t know your grow zone, but it was obviously cold enough to damage the plant. Biggs is in grow zone 6. I am in 4. Both of us have to protect our plants in winter, generally by bringing them in to cold storage just before frost. My cold room is 5-7°C and dark. The tree will stay there until it starts to break dormancy and there is NO danger of frost. I bring it out into my workshop which has a south facing patio door. The tree will get scant water maybe twice in winter.
I also agree there appears to be some insect damage. Get your magnifying glass out and check underside of leaves. Or may also be some chlorosis.
 
garden master
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Your fig tree is hungry, it will love you if you water it once a month with fish emulsion.
The brown edges can either be a sign of under watering or overwatering but the leaves that look like they have bugs are most likely a form of chlorosis, the fish emulsion will give the fig the nutrients it needs to keep the chloroplasts from exploding.
When you plant it outdoors (if you decide to put it back in the garden plot) make sure that you ready it for winter, get all the dropped leaves away and then use a straw (not wood chips) mulch about 4 inches thick around the trunk (s) to prevent root freeze.

We have one fig that we have named Lazarus, it has come back from the dead 4 times now, each time it does this, it becomes a stronger but more multi-trunked.
Figs are easy to propagate in the spring, just clip a new branch and plant it, some people like to create enough rooting twigs to fill their pot, I prefer to do direct, where it is going to live its life plantings, but I have the space and love fig trees.

The Jordan variety is usually found in arid areas, it is native to Israel, but they will thrive anywhere as long as their need for warmish soil is met.
Take your cuttings for new trees in the spring, from new growth that is not where you want it. I have approx. 15 new trees coming from Lazarus this year, just to shape it up.

Since you are in BC, you might want to construct a bolt together frame for the winters to allow you to cover the tree to prevent frost bite.

Redhawk
 
Aida Alene
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Thanks everyone, I will try feeding it, I did repot it from a ten gallon into a 50 gallon about a month ago with fresh potting soil but that might not have had enough nitrogen in it.

I will look again for bugs but I thought that too at first when random holes appeared here and there, no bugs found, there is one naughty cat in the house though so could just be her.

The cold frame is a good idea, I considered building a large frame over one side of the garden and planting several in that spot. Could I top them if they start to get too tall? I imagine this is what people do. I am zone 7, it usually doesn't get colder than -7 most winters but every decade or so it hits -12 some nights.

I guess it's a wait and see game if the fertilizer doesn't help, no any bugs found. Thanks!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Figs can find N, that is almost never a big problem fish emulsion is recommended because of the other, trace element factors and P and K that it brings with it.

You can prune a fig tree as hard as you want, they are remarkably resilient as well as being easy to propagate.

Most potting soils will have far and away enough Nitrogen for a fig tree.
Figs are fungi dependent for their root systems to work properly you need the mycorrhizae to embrace those roots, once they flourish, so too will the fig tree.

Redhawk
 
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I think this is likely a viral infection. There is a fig virus that causes chlorosis and abnormally shaped leaves. Usually comes from infected root stock. I had a young tree that presented with it when it was about a year old died the following winter.
 
Aida Alene
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Fred Estrovich wrote:I think this is likely a viral infection. There is a fig virus that causes chlorosis and abnormally shaped leaves. Usually comes from infected root stock. I had a young tree that presented with it when it was about a year old died the following winter.



Why would only the top be showing signs of it? Do you have the name of the virus?
 
Aida Alene
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Fig mosaic virus I think you may be right. How frustrating! I bought this fig from a nursery two years ago and have no other figs, how would the fig have gotten this? I live in a very newly developed alpine area with no other gardeners nearby.
 
pollinator
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I thought I had fig mosaic virus. It recovered when I moved it to a location with more light, so it seems like poor lighting may have been the problem.
 
Ken W Wilson
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Does the top of the plant get less light than the bottom?
 
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Aida, I live in zone 9a but have winter's cold enough to kill very young figs to the ground.  Once the root systems is well established you will have a better chance if the stems surviving winter intact.  A deep mulch is very helpful.

Here is something I have done this winter with my two figs which died to the ground a year ago.  Atop the mulch I created a double ringed cage made of poultry wire.  The inside ring stands away from the plant's crown and stems by 6 or so inches.  The outside ring extends another 6 inches away from the crown.  Between the two rings I stuffed more mulch, which I made 4-6 inches deep. 

The idea is to give further protection to both roots and crown and stems.
 
Aida Alene
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This is a good idea Jane thankyou
 
pollinator
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There are some lovely large productive fig trees here just south of you on Puget Sound. This is how they are situated. They are on a slope near a body of water that doesn't freeze and are sheltered by structures and trees immediately up slope from them. The freezing night air flows past them down to the water and the air warmed by the water flows up around them at night.
You mentioned an alpine location so you may be at too high an elevation to take advantage of the salt water but if you can create a micro-climate with a different heat source such as a hot compost pile you may be successful.
 
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Hi Aida,  I also live in 9a and here the figs grow almost as weeds.  They are really tough and stunningly drought resistant. Young unprotected trees do die back in the winter here too, but come back stronger the next spring.

The older generation of local farmers and garden putters not only prune the fig trees to keep them low, but also tie plastic water bottles (to varying degree of fullness/weight) to the fig branches over the winter and summer so they are weighed down and growing low and mostly horizontally. Not sure if those are removed when the tree is fruiting though I doubt it. I'll try to get a photo and post it later. Good luck keeping your tree productive and contained and warm!   
 
Aida Alene
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Abelia Frutteto wrote:Hi Aida,  I also live in 9a and here the figs grow almost as weeds.  They are really tough and stunningly drought resistant. Young unprotected trees do die back in the winter here too, but come back stronger the next spring.

The older generation of local farmers and garden putters not only prune the fig trees to keep them low, but also tie plastic water bottles (to varying degree of fullness/weight) to the fig branches over the winter and summer so they are weighed down and growing low and mostly horizontally. Not sure if those are removed when the tree is fruiting though I doubt it. I'll try to get a photo and post it later. Good luck keeping your tree productive and contained and warm!   



because I am in zone 7 I plan to wrap them in the winter, but I actually have heard of weighing down branches before, I was going to do that with my cherry tree because they grow in such an upward slope if left.
 
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