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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    3

    Default Winterizing a fig tree

    Hello all - I have a fig tree in my yard that is about 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide and I need advice as to how to cover it for the winter. I live in upper Westchester, NY and it gets quite cold here in the winter. I keep reading about the many ways of how to cover it. Some say to cover it in Burlap, brown paper & tar paper, some say in plastic. What is the proper way of covering this tree??? Last year I covered it in leaves & a dark plastic, sealed the bottom and top then I topped it off with a pail. When i opened in the spring, it had mold & funus all over it so I cut it down and it grew back even larger but the fruit didn't fully mature before the frost. Did I suffocate it, Should I have left it open on the top & bottom so it can breath? Please help me save this tree so I can have fruit next year.

    Thanks:

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Winterizing a fig tree

    I've tried several methods for my figs - about the same size as yours - and I live in Northern NJ, so our climates are very similar. Burlap has always been a standard for many of my overwintering protection needs - helpful to reduce or eliminate winter burn on many plants.

    My neighbor (who has the parent of my fig) uses the "wrap with plastic" method you tried - but he uses a tarp and some bungie cords. It seems to work well for him.

    Last year, I tried something new and he is going to switch over to my method this winter. I adopted/adapted it from my method for composting leaves.

    Get a roll of welded wire fencing (comes in up to 48" heights) from your local home center or garden supply place. Make as many 'rounds' as you need to reach your overall height demands by clipping off enough fence (using wire cutters) to surround the plant and leave a few inches of space. Clipping in such a way that leaves you some bendable end bits will be helpful in connecting the encircling surrounds without having to use zip ties or such. This same method works on the tops to connect as many sections as you need to make your tower. You may find that snaking some type of garden stake(s) through the fence will keep it erect and upright.

    Once you've got your 'surrounds' done and around your plant, fill it with leaf litter from your (and/or your neighbors') fall clean-up. just letting the leaves fall in like snow will encourage them to fill in all the space without compacting in any one spot. Fill it to the top of the plant. If you don't like how it looks once you're done, a few wraps of burlap will only help the aesthetics and the performance of this project without compromising breathability.

    Try to stay away from leaves that come from trees that have fungus, mold, and mildew issues (sycamores, apples, ash, lilacs, etc).

    The leaves will keep the plant insulated from the cold, but will allow some air circulation through the fencing hoops you've constructed. The leaves will also decompose over the winter, leaving you with soil so rich in carbon and nitrogen (and worms) - you can't do better with store bought.

    This same plant support/compost containment works great for a variety of plants and sizes - ie, peonies, hydrangeas, tomatoes, etc. You will find dozens of uses for your roll of fencing throughout the seasons.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by arborscapes; 11-08-2008 at 10:35 AM. Reason: tone, tenor, flow, and grammar

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,159

    Default Re: Winterizing a fig tree

    Something I've seen done is take old corn stalks and tie them around the tree until you get a good thick barrier. Tar paper around it with the top open shields it from the wind, but allows it to breath.
    Look for a cold resistant variety like Brown Turkey. Their are a few others too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Winterizing a fig tree

    I have just winterized an old fig tree that I transplanted (was given to me by someone who was going to cut it down) in October. I adapted the method posted on the Italiansrus.com but am concerned about the tree molding over the winter. I may have gone overboard in wrapping but it has 12 major trunks - a beautiful old tree that I don't want to kill by not winterizing it properly just after the transplant.

    I tied the limbs, wrapped sections of newspaper all around, built a chicken wire enclosure of three sections, stuffed hay into the spaces, covered with insulation and burlap, and then covered the entire structure with plastic. There is no place for air to get in, but the hay is 3-6" thick all around. Will the hay provide enough air and prevent mold or do I have to do something else?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Winterizing a fig tree

    Quote Originally Posted by jNeechie View Post
    Hello all - I have a fig tree in my yard that is about 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide and I need advice as to how to cover it for the winter. I live in upper Westchester, NY and it gets quite cold here in the winter. I keep reading about the many ways of how to cover it. Some say to cover it in Burlap, brown paper & tar paper, some say in plastic. What is the proper way of covering this tree??? Last year I covered it in leaves & a dark plastic, sealed the bottom and top then I topped it off with a pail. When i opened in the spring, it had mold & funus all over it so I cut it down and it grew back even larger but the fruit didn't fully mature before the frost. Did I suffocate it, Should I have left it open on the top & bottom so it can breath? Please help me save this tree so I can have fruit next year.

    Thanks:
    I have only been into growing figs for a few years now and live in zone 5 of N.H. I've had several obstacles to overcome... worst of which is temperature. To beat voles/moles, I have used plastic trunk protectors which curl up the trunk about 15" along with moth balls. To protect against mold, here are a few suggestions: when the tree/bush is sufficiently dormant for the season, try spraying the trunk(s) with liquid wax. I definitely would use an "airy" material around the plant that is not prone to absorb water like pine needles and oak leaves. While filling your ficus with insulation, build your perimeter with stakes and burlap, chicken wire or other inexpensive fencing material readily available. The thicker you can insulate trunk/branches on the outside of the plant; the more protected it will be from the winter elements. I would frown against black plastic as we use that in the N.E. during the growing season.Hope some of these ideas will help you out. B.H.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
    Posts
    1,583

    Default Re: Winterizing a fig tree

    I have one watchword for plants in my garden - if it can't survive on its own, let it die! If God didn't it intend for it to grow in this climate, who am I to intervene! I will buy my figs at the market.

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