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 for wealth, 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.
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When pruning the roots of your potted fig trees, you must perform this once every 2-3 years. Otherwise the tree might experience a stunted growth and cause stress to the tree. It’s a good idea to prune your tree in early spring, just before the tree begins to leaf out. If you wait later in the season to prune, the tree will feel shock and the leaves will wilt for several days.
Of course, you can plan to transfer the tree into a larger pot. Although this can make it difficult to move the tree around and it can grow to enormous proportions. So, pruning is the best option if you plan to return the tree to the pot that you love so much.
Below are photographic examples showing the stages of root pruning.
This fig tree that has been removed from it’s pot. You will notice the roots that were pressed up against the lining of the pot giving the soil a distinctive shape as you can see here.
Roots with the old soil removed, prior to pruning. It is important to loosen the roots just like you do when you want messy hair.
This photo shows how the roots look after pruning. It looks like a bad hair day or if your hair gets wet after you get a perm.
Replace the grow medium
At this point, it is recommended that you either replace the grow medium or re-use your existing long-term conifer bark-based medium until the next time you prune the roots.
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.
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.
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 you grow your fig tree outside, all you have to do is plant it and let it grow. Here are some suggestions to consider.
Watering trees outside as often as possible depends on your weather conditions. At least once every 3 days. If you have a lot of rain, your tree may grow at a rate of about 2-3 ft per season (without fertilizer). Mine grew 4 ft during the first year I planted it.
Train your tree to grow outside with one base trunk (not like what you see in the photo above) by clipping off additional branches that grow from the base. See these Training tips. For pruning tips, scroll down to item number 6 on this page.
I suggest that you not add pesticides outside if you can help it. Once figs begin to grow in the middle of June, they stay on the tree throughout the entire growing season until they become plump and juicy. Pesticides are poisonous because they’ll absorb into the figs and then bitten revealing a terrible cocktail. Peeling the skin off does not provide protection against consuming the chemicals.
Studies suggest following this step when trees grow up to 3 years or less than 5ft tall.
Wrapping with water heater insulation: use duct tape to wrap the plastic tight. Do not let any of this plastic touch the branches. I like water heater insulation because it does an excellent job with warming the tree and the exterior plastic keeps the fiberglass from spoiling. Insulation in good condition following the winter, reuse it next time. This insulation prevents the branches from freezing. You may also dig up the tree, lay it on its side on the ground, cover with burlap and dirt. But I don’t recommend it. I know all too well what happens when no insulation covering around the tree. Most of the time, the tree dies back and essentially has to start all over again with its growth if it doesn’t die entirely.
I’ve found that if the branches are a minimum 1/2 inch thick on a 3 yr old thick trunk, those branches will survive the Winter frost when you do not winterize the tree.
Pruning timetables are set from February thru March. Spring arrives by April, but if the temperatures return to freezing wrap it back up. Between March and May, green growth should appear and all insulation separating even if outside temperatures reach upper 30s to mid 40s. Why bother pruning it when it looks fine the way it is? Your other question might be, why prune in February or March? After all those harsh cold months, the sap has fallen deep into the tree. Pruning it at this point will give you a clean-cut without sweet sap oozing out. Pruning causes it to grow more branches and therefore more figs. Once the form of the tree has been reached after the initial years of pruning, then there is no need for heavy Winter pruning.
How do you prune it? Look at the branches and you’ll notice bumps where new branches emerge from. Now look at the entire tree. Picture the shape of the tree in your head and remove only 1/3 of the tree from the top. Cut just above those bumps on the branches. If you’re cutting back an entire branch, cut it back only to about 2 inches away from the main branch or trunk.
During growing season let the tree grow and don’t prune the branches. Pruning during the growing season causes the sweet white sap or latex to ooze out of the branch. Sap attracts insects and all sorts of fungus that may rot the tree.
Clear away branches in the center to allow sunlight to reach the entire tree when it grows. OK, now it looks like you are killing your tree. Don’t worry, it’s still alive.
Whitewashing is important for the cut the ends of the tree to prevent a hole from developing too soon at the center (branches have a soft center where the milky sap flows) of the branch, which can provide a haven for fungus and insects once dried. To white wash, mix 50/50 of water and Rust-Oleum 1990730 Painters Touch Latex, 1/2-Pint, Flat White paint and dab it on with these Plaid Foam Brushes, 44269 (3 Pack). I sometimes use white wash on wood that has the potential for winter weather damage or any other damage to the wood.
Nitrogen fertilizers encourage foliage growth, but the fruit often ripens terribly, if at all. Fertilizer should only be used if the tree grew less than 1 foot the previous year. Application should be broken into 3-4 applications starting between March and May, then ending in July. To read more on this topic, see this Fig Fruit Facts website.
Depending on where people live in the Northeastern climates, their outside trees may begin to show leaves anywhere between April 1st to May 1st and then the cycle begins all over again. Gardeners are suggested to not add mulch to the tree at this point. Mulch can actually rot the base of your established fig tree after the first year of growth. Fig trees love water, but they also like well-drained soil otherwise they can rot. Readers have chosen The Dirty Gardener Dolomite Limestone – 2 Pounds chips when fertilizing. Some people claim that outside fig trees LOVE limestone for it’s slow release properties.
Researchers have no solid evidence that fig trees need excessive amounts of Ca or Mg. With that said, as mentioned above under the Fertilization topic, fig trees prefer a pH of 6.0-6.5 when planted in a mineral soil in your yard and 5.0-5.5 when in a pot. If your soil is very acidic, then you can buy the bag of dolomite lime mentioned above and sprinkle it around the base of the tree. Most of the time, there is no need to add limestone to the soil if it was from a potting mix or if you’ve added it when making a pine bark/peat based medium. Store purchased potting mixes are generally pre-limed with dolomite to a pH of 6.2. If you determined that your soil needs fertilizer, be sure to water the tree afterward to allow the nutrients to reach the roots.
Potted fig trees need certain requirements in order to grow successfully. Consider the following tips.
Choose a pot with a manageable size with holes on the bottom. The one I provide is a nursery pot, which means it’s the black flimsy kind that has large holes on the bottom (the kind that comes with a new bush from the plant store) and it doesn’t allow much root growth. Include a tray to fit under your pot to collect excess water.
Use soil that doesn’t retain water for long periods, so regular potting soil is not good. Reason? if it remains moist for a long time, it can promote root rot.
Another name of the soil I use is called grow medium. I used to get my soil from a hydroponics store in NJ that later went out of business, so I had to make my own grow medium. It is loose and allows the water to pass directly to the roots and then out the bottom. This grow medium is organic and contains pine bark, humus (organic compost) as the main fertilizer, and perlite. You don’t have to use this type of soil. An alternative recommendation is vermiculite mixed into it to loosen the soil. You can also buy The Dirty Gardener Dolomite Limestone – 2 Pounds and add it on top of the soil, especially if squirrels are digging around.
Fig trees LOVE limestone for it’s slow release properties. Readers recommend that you use a soil pH tester like the one mentioned in item number 6 of Outside Living.
Let the potted tree grow and water often. Don’t prune it because the sap is sweet. It attracts flies, other insects and fungus. However, if branches grow up from the bottom of the trunk, clip them off. The objective is to train it to grow with one trunk. There is a substance that you can get for sealing off the wood when you prune during the growing season, but I’ve never used it before.
In the Fall, the leaves will naturally fall off. Once they have fallen, move the potted tree into a cool dark place to store over the winter. Following this step ensures a good fig harvest the next season. If you store the tree in a warm dark place, it might not grow figs next year. I used an attached garage because it remained cold, but not freezing.
At the start of the month of March, prune the branches back to a manageable size. By this time, the sap has fallen to the base of the tree. Rule of thumb, only prune a maximum of 1/3 of the tree. Pruning will also allow the tree to grow even more figs the next season.
During the winter, give the potted tree about a cup of water once a month to keep it alive.
As soon as you see leaves begin to emerge from the branches, move it outside and then give it water (just enough until you see water run out the bottom). A great way to test it to see if it has enough moisture is to take a dry stick (I use a short wooden skewer) and slip it as deep as you can into the soil for a few minutes. Pull it out and if the stick is dry, add water. It’s sort of like checking the oil in your car engine with the dip stick. Your tree is like a fig producing engine.
Once every 2-3 years, prune the roots. If you use a humus-based medium, you will also need to change the soil otherwise the roots will use up all the space and nutrients in the pot. If you used the conifer bark-based grow medium mix that I’ve mentioned in this blog, then you can wait until the next time you prune the roots to change the soil. Apartment residents can do this in the bathtub (or shower). Just line the inside of the tub with a plastic drop cloth. If the plastic keeps falling down at the sides, just tape it against the tiles.