Because there are so many visitors noticing the Figgi Riggi blog, I have decided to move Figgi Riggi. It was changed from figgiriggi.wordpress.com to it’s own unique domain home at figgiriggi.com. Unfortunately, the transfer may have disrupted some pages that people had been linking to throughout the web. I was not able to preserve the original site structure of those pages and I promise that I will not change the new structure. If you were someone who had posted links to my posts on other blogs, then feel free to update the links in those locations. There is certainly more flexibility than I had before and I recommend that if you have a blog that you do the same thing, but if you are unsure I’ll show you how.
I made several changes to the look of this site to make it more interesting and better organized. It is also easier to share my blog postings on social media. Soon, I will begin posting interesting topics on a regular basis. Upcoming tutorials on setting up a blog, choosing a hosting service, using the best themes, finding beautiful fonts and how to monetize your blog. Topics in the works include: my latest tools, strange figs, greenhouses, cancer-free weed killer spray, and natural indoor pest removal. I may later include tutorials for new fig tree gardeners in USDA zone 7A or perhaps an online classroom experience.
Recent technical changes for this new home
A real emailing service called MailChimp that is recognized world-wide and does not spew out spam like a bursting volcano. I know, I hate that spam just as much as you do. This service has a strict anti-spam policy that I like. I have chosen not to include images in the emails that you receive, because sometimes it simply opens quickly and doesn’t eat up your email storage. Continuing with the direction that my fig hobby began, this is going to be a natural journey and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.
Spread the love of this beautiful home
If you like my postings, then feel free to use the new sharing buttons found below and also please leave a comment, because I like the interaction and helping you with troubleshooting your gardening tree problems.
A killing freeze is when temperatures fall to or below 28ºF for at least a week. Most trees can survive brief periods of 32ºF. The killing freeze weather condition can kill a young fig tree if not protected. You can’t always make the best judgement when a freak cold blast comes down from Canada.
When autumn emerges, a tree will gradually drop it’s sap down to the base of the tree to help protect the branches from the Winter season, while it remains dormant. The problem that usually occurs is an early Spring during the month of March. At this moment, the weather warms up and the tree begins to leaf out as the sap returns to the branches.
As the Spring season emerges, the climate goes through a thawing/freeze period. Sometimes when the month of April approaches, a killing freeze could drop down suddenly. So, it can be difficult to judge when to unwrap your young tree.
Killing freeze from experience
I once had a situation in Connecticut where I had a 3 year old tree that suffered from a killing freeze in the month of April. All the branches died off down to the trunk of the tree, but because it had a very deep tap root, it sprung back to life in June where the new trunk system grew to 6 feet in 3 weeks. The following Fall, I wrapped the tree to protect the new growth. If you have a similar situation with a shallow tap root, there’s less of a chance that your young tree will survive. If you want to learn more about wrapping your tree for Winter storage, then visit my Outside Living page and see suggestion number 4 on Winterizing.
Training your fig tree, not training your dragons. Here are some basic examples on fig tree shapes. There are two common forms that a fig tree can be trained into: Single trunk [D], open vase type and the multi-trunk system [C]. Northeastern fig trees can be trained to grow from a single trunk when planted in a 200-hour chilling zone. You can control the trees through pruning. A winter frost that kills most of the branches, shows when a single trunk system should be used. To maintain the single trunk, be sure to cut away new growth that may appear at the base of the tree. Use a wooden stake, if necessary, to keep the trunk growing straight.
I am currently experimenting with the multi-trunk system. After my single-trunk trees died off due to weather and animal assaults, I let the trees grow back naturally and they grew as multi-trunks, I could not control this with one tree since multi-trunks grew from the sides of a single base trunk. My tree in Connecticut has a single trunk, but the branches are hugging the ground allowing additional roots to feed into the ground. The tree naturally formed this shape and it seemed like a defense mechanism from the very cold winter climates.
There are fungi that can attack your fig tree leaves. If you find large brown areas, or with a mold growing – immediately cut off the affected leaves and discard them so that the fungus will not spread throughout. Take note that there is a very dangerous common leaf mold pathogen called Rust. It mainly affects potted plants and can spread to your house plants. It will begin with small brown spots and gradually spread through the leaf. When you discover this type of infection, cut the leaf off and burn it.
This fungus generally appears following long rainy days without a chance for the leaves to dry under the sunshine. If you touch an infected leaf, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before handling other plants. Sometimes if you see sporadic brown spots, on a few leaves don’t be alarmed. Rust will not kill your tree and you don’t have to remove all of the leaves. It’s best to monitor the brown spots carefully to assess the situation before of jumping to conclusions. Sometimes small brown spots can indicate that the plant suffered from lack of water following a yellowing of the leaves.
There are anti-fungal products available, though the most effective means of stopping the spread of this infection is by burning the leaf. I use a small propane torch with the leaf on a non-flammable surface while the leaf is still green.
Go to your existing fig tree and look for a fresh straight bark branch about 6 inches long. It should be about the thickness of a pencil. If you don’t include this, you will notice that the green end will rot. Be sure to remove the leaves.
Wrap the cut ends with damp paper towels, seal in a plastic bag (I use ziploc bags) and place in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. This will put the cutting into a normal dormant mode, making it behave as if it’s Winter.
Place plug tray into the lower water collection tray and add a small amount of water without flooding it into the lower tray. Cover this with the large hot house dome.
Place the entire hot house container onto an insulated table (preferably wood). To maintain the grow medium temperature at 70F, insert the seeding heat mat under between the terrarium and the table and plug it into an outlet. Check the temperature periodically. If it goes over 70F, unplug it. Move this entire unit into a shaded area, in a greenhouse or near a window in your home. If it’s inside a greenhouse, you might not need the seeding heat mat.
Dryness is not your friend. Let’s add moisture.
Lift up one end of the large dome and using your spray bottle, mist a spray of water inside to get it super steamy inside. You will need to do this everyday. Check on this daily.
The tree above that is featured in this section in the orange pot succeeded as one out of 18 cuttings that I tried this out on.
Please tell me your results in this process in the comments section. Did you have success? Did you need to modify these instructions to reach a better outcome?
Everyone seems to have their own favorite method of rooting, especially when rooting from Winter cuttings. The steps below describe one method that some people like because they can stick the cuttings into the grow medium and then set it aside until the cutting leafs out. Other people like to add another step that they think is more reliable. That other step is to first collect a few 6-8 inch cuttings, bunch them together and wrap a damp paper towel around them. Insert them into a ziploc bag, seal it and then set it outside under the shade. Once the roots form, insert each cutting into it’s own pot with grow medium. This method leaves out the need to use rooting hormone.
When you are pruning your tree during the end of the Winter season, gather a select number of cuttings that are pencil thick, as straight as possible and about 6-12 inches in length. Tip: The best cuttings are the ones that have some green colored tips like in this image.
Get a small 5-6 inch tall nursery pot such as the homemade one below and then pack it with grow medium. Add water and let the medium soak for 1-2 hrs or overnight. These pots have holes cut into the bottom to allow water to drain out when watering.
Grab a pencil and insert it into the soil to preset a hole for your cutting.
Using your finger, spread the rooting compound (hormone) onto the cut end of the cutting. Don’t worry, roots will not grow from your finger.
You may also apply it onto the first knotted point in from the cut end.
Apply the root hormone
Insert the cutting into the soil and then press down onto the soil firmly to hold the cutting into place.
Add water and then move the cutting into a shaded area. In about 6-8 weeks, leaves should begin to form. I like using the lower end of a clear 2-liter plastic bottle with holes cut on the bottom because it allows me to see the roots pressing against the plastic. Once the roots have fully formed throughout the pot, you may transfer it to a larger pot. By the following growing season you may plant it into the ground. See the Winterizing instructions here for potted plants. Tip: This method isn’t 100% successful, so I recommend that you do this with more than one cutting in case if one doesn’t grow.
If for some reason, your cutting remains green at the tip for more than 5-6 weeks without leafing out, carefully check the cutting to see if roots formed. If no roots, make a clean cut above the area where you added the rooting hormone. Look for wood that is still fresh and not rotted, follow this instruction:
Wrap the cut end with a damp paper towel, seal in a plastic bag (I use ziploc bags) and place in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. This will put the cutting into a normal dormant mode, making it behave as if it’s Winter.
Maybe you’re wondering what Air Layering is. When I first heard the words, I pictured wafer cookies with layers of air in them.
Air Layering your fig tree is not too far from that concept. This method allows you to grow roots directly out of a branch into a complete root ball and the process doesn’t provide any nutrients into the roots to extend the size of the branch. Although not recommended, you can cut it down with all the roots intact and plant it into the ground. You’ll have excellent results if you first plant it into a pot afterward and then plant it into the ground the following Spring season. What Air Layering does is encourage the roots to grow in a space that contains a mixture of air pockets, water and the roots layer upon themselves into a tight ball. Air Layering is 100% successful with cloning fig trees unless you wait too late in the season to do it.
The month of June is the best month to begin Air Layering, because when you transplant it into a pot it will have enough time to establish itself before the Fall season comes around. Any existing figs on the branch will continue to grow, but will not taste good when they ripen. I recommend to not attempt to start this in August. I tried it with two trees and they nearly died.
Before we begin, please see photo No. 2 in Rooting Materials. Be sure you have these materials ready along with a pitcher of water and a small bowl. Now, you don’t have to use this same exact bottle, you can experiment with different plastic bottles and different ways to cut them up to fit your branch. The objective is to create a container that will hold damp moss inside of it. Once you’ve created this container, there will be no need to add water to it.
Take the bowl and add a handful of the moistened Sphagnum Moss into it.
Using scissors or a box cutting knife, cut the 2-liter bottle (or any other plastic container) similar to what you see in the images below.
Cut the bottle in such a way so that you can slip it onto the branch. I cut a slot at the sides of the bottle spout and then slipped the bottle horizontally over the branch.
This image contains a different bottle prepared for a smaller branch with a cap for adding water if necessary.
By following the below instructions, you should have two bottle top ends that should fit together.
Now look for a branch that looks straight
On the branch, you’ll see how the branch appears segmented with bumps that seem to encircle the branch. This is where the roots will grow from.
Once you have located these bumps, fasten one of the bottle sections with electrical tape onto the branch in such a way that the container will encase one of those bumps or knots. Just use your common sense on this step as some branches are pointed in other directions. It might require taping both halves onto the branch and then pushing the moss through a hole on a top with step 9.
Add water to the moss until it’s soaked and then squeeze out all of the water until the moss is just damp. (remove excess water from the bowl).
Pack the damp moss into the bottle half that is on the branch.
Fasten the other bottle segment above the lower one using your tape. Carefully taping the two halves together. If you have extra space for more moss, pack some in before you completely seal off the container. Be careful not to leave holes, otherwise moisture will escape and ants will make a home in the container. Yes, I said ants! Small black ants love it for some reason.
Now mark your calendar and wait 6-8 weeks for the roots to grow. I have found that by week 8 the roots are fully prepared for the transplant into a pot.
Carefully dismantle the plastic container from the root ball.
Snip off the new air layered branch below the root ball with pruning shears between two “knots” in the branch. I use this tool because it gives a nice clean cut.
Transplant the root ball into a nursery pot that has holes on the bottom. Loosen the roots a little although not necessary and then fill the pot with pre-moistened grow medium. Although pre-moistening is not necessary, I just found it helpful. For this example, I moistened the potting soil with water with another pot. Notice the stick end below the roots as seen in the above photo, I let this end stand directly against the bottom of the pot.
Water until the grow medium is wet. The water should pass through quickly. To know when to water it again, insert a clean strip of wood into the soil, wait a few minutes and then pull it out. If the wood comes out dry, then add water. Following this method will prevent from rotting the roots.
I have tried Air Layering using other containers. Plastic wrap stuffed with the moss was an option, but birds pecked at it forcing me to wrap it with aluminum foil. Clear containers are the best, because they are “all window” allowing me to see the roots. If you use plastic wrap, it is necessary to add a little bit of water to it at least once a week.
The example container in the photo with the pruning shears in it was the most complex I’ve made. I cut the bottle in half and used the top and bottom segments. the bottom segment required using a hacksaw to cut a slot and drill a large hole in the bottom. What a pain the neck. The bottom of a 2-liter bottle is very thick plastic. It’s not worth the trouble to see someone else struggle with that.
Changes are that your figs are not in the lost and found at the police station. Knowing when the figs will grow and whether or not they’re being stolen or eaten by natures bugs and other critters is essential to being a backyard gardener.
Lost? Maybe the neighborhood kids or your landscapers are sneaking through your yard and eating your figs.
There’s no guarantee that you’ll see figs growing on your transplanted tree for the first 2-3 years.
If you see figs, you’re either lucky or the person who supplied a fig tree to you did everything as right as possible to ensure fig production. But there can be margins of error. If you don’t see figs within the first 2-3 years, be patient and hope to see figs the next year. A friend said to me one day that when he doesn’t insulate his fig tree from the winter frost, he doesn’t have figs that year. I only follow this rule for the first year I plant the tree and leave it alone for the following Winter seasons if the tree is at least 5ft tall or the trunk is more than 3 yrs old. I like a thick trunk.
If you’ve had your fig trees for a while and you’re just not seeing figs growing, then here are steps to follow to force the tree to grow figs the next year. These steps will not guarantee fig propagation, but it’s a worthy experiment that has worked for me and other people.
When the tree begins to grow be sure to cut back any growth that wants to emerge from the base of the trunk.
While the new growth begins to emerge from the existing branches, only allow 6 leaves to grow from each branch. Beyond this point, pinch (clip) off the additional growth. This will force the tree to redirect energy from growing limbs to growing figs. Check on the limbs periodically because the tree may start to grow new branches at the base (armpit) of the leaf stems. If so, pinch these off. You’ll scratch your head thinking.. “But figgiriggi said not to prune during growing season.” For this situation, we’re not concerned about that. The pinched ends will dry quickly and then seal themselves off by the following day.
Check on the tree for new growth about once every 4 days.
Keep an eye out for rounded green bumps. Figs begin to emerge as small ball forms on very short stalks. Baby figs can be confused for leaves, but carefully compare the bumps with how the leaves form. Leaves form almost immediately at the base (armpit) of the leaf stems. Figs also form at the same location. If you’re not sure if you see a fig or not, wait another 4 days and then you’ll know.
You’ll have to tend to this for the entire growing season. It gives you an excuse to observe your tree when the neighbors see you out in the yard, otherwise they might think you’ve lost your mind.
If you give up, hopefully you won’t. Go to a nursery and buy a new fig tree.
When your fig tree is coming out of Winter storage around the end of March (around the latitude of NJ), observe the tips of the branches. You’ll notice that they stayed green all Winter season. There is an indicator that tells you when it’s time to plant your fig tree outside. This is when leaves begin to break out from those green tips or just before. This is the ideal time to plant the tree and minimizes shock to the leaves.
Here are some basic instructions on transplanting:
When a fig tree grows, it has roots that love to travel along the surface of the soil just under your grass and in fact, can raid flower beds. So, don’t grow it where it will damage other plants, unless you understand this risk and like things grown together.
If your climate is not 100% suitable for growing out in the yard, you may choose to grow it next to your house. The house gives off enough heat radiation to warm the tree.
Once you’ve chosen the ideal spot 12-20 feet away from other fig trees, soak the area well with water if it hasn’t rained lately. This holds up the soil while you’re digging and attracts the roots when they’re growing out.
Dig the hole
Dig a hole using this general guideline: 12 inches wide for every 1 inch width of tree trunk. The depth should be the same depth of your root ball plus an additional 4 inches. In the photo examples, the trunk was only about 1/2″ in diameter. I made the hole 12″ in diameter, although I could certainly have made it 6″ (use your best judgement). My brother Joe asked me what is root ball and if it was a disease you can catch. NO! You won’t catch “root ball” nor will you get “root balls”.
To remove the tree from the pot, carefully hold the fig tree by the base of the trunk. Tilt it over and hit the sides and bottom of the nursery pot with your hand to loosen the soil inside.
Remove the root ball from the pot.
Place it into the hole you just dug and loosen the soil around the roots.
Add potting soil around the root ball and then fill in the rest to top it off at the top. The soil will compress when it’s watered. I use potting soil rather than the dirt that I dug up. The reason is that it’s sterile, full of nutrients and has added fertilizer. In this example, I purchased FoxFarm FX14023 Light Warrior Seed Starter Soilless Mix, 1-Cubic Feet (not av… because it has natural fertilizers that I like and I think you will like it too.
→If the tree is falling over, drive a stake into the ground next to it and then tie it to the tree. I reach for an old cotton rag or towel and then cut 1 inch strips of fabric off of it to use for tying the the stake to the tree. Over time, the fabric degrades and falls off. I like the fabric because it’s soft and doesn’t scratch the tree.
Now that the tree is planted, add mulch. It doesn’t matter what kind of mulch. I like to use Mighty 109 Natural Cedar Mulch. Be sure to mold it into a bowl shape or like building a bird’s nest around the tree with your hands. It will funnel the water toward the roots.
→I only use mulch for the first year I plant the tree. The following year I just apply a fresh layer of soil and leave it alone.
Now water the tree. I gave the tree a thorough soaking by placing a hose there and letting a trickle of water run for an hour. Don’t soak it like this every time you water it thereafter, otherwise the roots could rot.