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 pruning transplanted fig 
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Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2006 4:44 pm
Posts: 9
Post pruning transplanted fig
I just transplanted a fig into my garden a few days ago. It has about a 1.5 - 2 inch diameter base, is about 4.5 feet tall(after I cut off about 2 feet of vertical growth), and has three branches. I am planning on training it to a fan shape on an espalier against my house. One of my gardening books says to "prune hard" upon planting, but I don't really know what this means and am afraid to cut too much off. Advice I have found online says that I should cut off all but four or so inches! What to do? (Side note: I prepared a site for it by digging a 3x4foot hole a foot deep and lined it with bricks and a rocky bottom to restrict root growth - I want to keep the tree around 10 feet in any direction.)

Thanks from a first-year gardener!


Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:47 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1151
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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I’m curious where you're located? Sound advice to me was to allow my figs to send up multiple shoots, so if a hard winter freeze damaged any it would be those on the outside, and not kill the entire 'tree.' But you've a plan with a fan! And if it's against your (south facing?) house wall, likely well protected.

I always try to balance my transplant pruning to what I estimate as the amount of root-loss during the digging process. Now I suspect you've dug this young fig from the ground? If it's spent its life in a pot, it should only need its roots spread well. But you've got to watch Nursery's, they'll heavily root-prune a fruit tree then jam it into a pot during the dormant season - giving the illusion that it's grown there... I always slide them out of the pot to see what the roots look like :?

If it's lost some major roots, consider cutting it back a bit more; if you think you've got most (if not all of them) I wouldn't take off anything more than you have.

Figs are hardy; and remember, anything they send up and off their roots are the same as the top variety. They are not grafted, so if you simply planted a hardy piece of root - you’d have your fig. Or, if you allow the ‘root shoots’ to develop, they too will give the same fruit. I’m glad to hear you’re going for a fig; they're a consistently productive, disease free, deer-proof, self pollinating, tropical looking under utilized fruit tree in Oregon.

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Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:44 pm
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Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 4:12 am
Posts: 24
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If you have reasonable roots, don't worry too much. I have transplanted fairly large fig trees with little concern for balance. Mostly they did fine.

Figs are tough customers. I once took a severed 8 ft. Desert King branch that was fully leafed out. I thinned the leaves to one every foot or so, and I planted the limb horizonally, with just the leaves exposed. I watered it once or twice, then I promptly forgot about it.

Surprise, surprise, a year or two later, a row of fig trees came up.

I also took a snippit of Latterulla from a trash pile at an October harvest fair. I took it home, stuck it in a jar of water, and sat it on my window sill. Over the winter, it rooted. Eventually, I stuck it in the ground. Now, it is a twenty foot tree next to my driveway.

Treatment that would kill most trees, may not bother a fig tree much. Sometimes thay mope a little bit, but they seldom die.


Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:50 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1151
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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Buzz... I loved your description of starting several figs at once! As I was roto-tilling yesterday I envisioned tilling up an 8 foot long strip a couple of feet wide, really churning it deep and nice. Then obtaining an 8 foot length of a friends 'extra' fig limb, and following your procedure to establish a fig grove! ...And with 7 figs of my own ... I'm still considering it … what's wrong with me?!

Every so often we notice a neglected fig somewhere, with multiple shoots everywhere. If, after trying its fruit, then convincing the owner we were actually doing the tree a favor by 'pruning' out some of that congestion... we’d have the makings for an instant fig grove! Has me wondering why I ever messed with all those little cuttings, when I could have 'gotten it over with' in one planting.

Well, when I hear of anyone with the room wanting 'instant' figs, I'll pass on your experience 8)

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Sat Mar 24, 2007 9:47 am
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Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2006 4:44 pm
Posts: 9
Post Thanks for all your info.
Thank you both for all of your helpful advice! I did dig the tree up from a neighbor's yard along with many other baby plants. Thank goodness for untended yards, huh! I think I'll just leave it be and see how it does - if it dies, there are many others I can go dig up. I'm in SW Portland and we do get some winter freezes and snow where I am, but the tree is against a south-facing wall and the neighbor's tree has never suffered any obvious damage (actually it has quite overtaken the yard). So, thanks for putting my mind at ease!


Sat Mar 24, 2007 10:11 pm
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