Four dead sticks...
Our fig story begins in 2008 when a longtime friend and customer brought us 4 dead sticks. “Put these in the greenhouse and see what happens,” she said. They were cuttings from her fig tree in Brooklyn, NY. At that point I had never eaten a fresh fig. The only fig I knew of was a Fig Newton (which I am quite fond of).
The sticks hung around for a few weeks and finally I stuck them in the ground. Lo and behold, two of them took root and started to grow. And then they produced fruit the first year! I had my first fresh fig and it was good.
So now I’ve got a fig tree growing in my greenhouse! I can’t have a 25 foot tall tree growing in my 15 foot greenhouse. So I cut it back. The cuttings I put in pots of soil and placed around the tree for the winter.
Well sure enough, they started growing. I ended up selling figs and fig trees in Newton, Mass!
Twelve years later
We now have seven fig trees planted in the ground of a larger, more permanent greenhouse that we call The Figtorium, as well as a collection of other trees (more fig trees, plus lemon, lime, olives, etc.) in large pots. We have sold hundreds of trees and heard many tales of customers happily picking fruit.
More information about figs
The internet has a wealth of information about figs. A couple of sites we have found useful are:
We sell first, second, third, and fourth year trees.
If you have a first year in a 1-gallon pot, you are mostly growing the roots. It is important to get a solid root system going before re-potting the tree. You can leave the tree in the original container until next spring.
A second or third year tree will need to be moved to a bigger pot in the spring. By the fourth year, the tree should be settled in its final, or “home” pot. Conventional wisdom says to increase the size pot in steps. Eventually the tree wants to be in as large a pot as you can move inside. A 15-gallon pot seems to work well for most people.
About our varieties: As I said above our first tree came from a cutting off a family tree. Over the next few years my "Fig Mother" brought me more cuttings from her neighbors trees. We have also collected a number of "rescue" figs. These were trees that the owner, for what ever reason, couldn't hold onto. Most of them are also of unknown variety. We do have a few Chicgo Hardy and I recently purchaced a Martinence Rimada, because it looks fantastic! They will be added to our sale list when I have successfully produced ripe fruit on a potted tree.
Right now we are selling:
Again, these are names I made up and I make no claims as to the real variety name. Only that they have produced ripe fruit in pots at our location in New England.
Make sure any tree gets plenty of water during the growing season. Bring inside after one or two light frosts but before a hard freeze. A light frost will not kill the tree and will encourage it to go dormant, which is what you want.
Now that the leaves have turned yellow and fallen off, it’s time to put it away for the winter. Pruning the tree will make it easier to bring inside and also encourage new growth. (Feel free to send me a photo by email if you need help deciding where to cut.) Keep the plant above freezing and don’t let it dry out completely over the winter. Light is not necessary once the leaves are gone but it does not have to be dark. Ideal conditions are hard to come by but my experience has shown the fig to be very tolerant.
Check the plant at least monthly over the winter for moisture and any signs of growth. Leafing may start as early as February or March. If it does, provide the tree with natural or artificial light until it can go outside, and give it a good drink of water. After the last frost of the season, the tree can go outside. Be sure to protect the tree at first from sunscald. You can keep it in dappled light or cover with row cover cloth for the first week. This is also a good time to pot the tree up, if needed.
Every 3 to 4 years the tree will need root pruning. Take the tree out of the pot and cut a couple of inches off the roots, using a saw or knife. Add some new soil to the same pot and replant. This should be done in the spring. Check out the "Root Pruning" video on the Videos page.
We also offer after the sale support for your fig tree. Email us questions or problems and we'll do our best to find answers. Our goal is for you to have a long and fruitful relationship with your fig tree.