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 landscape fabric to contain fig roots? 
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Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 9:18 am
Posts: 51
Post landscape fabric to contain fig roots?
I understand figs tend to produce more fruit if their roots are contained. To contain the roots, I've read suggestions to plant the fig in a container in a ground or to line the planting hole with bricks. I have landscape fabric on hand; can I use that to contain the fig roots? How much room should I give the roots? I've heard about 3'x3' surface area, but how deep? I have a Dessert King fig. Thanks kindly, D.


Fri May 04, 2007 9:24 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1145
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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"Obsessed" - aren’t we all! I think most plants produce more "fruit" if stressed, or - in fear for their lives! That's why pruning's so effective, the tree thinks it's been wounded so bad that it had better re-produce with all its got! I remember some Arborvitaes of my Brother's that were out of reach of his water sprinkler; water stressed and stunted, they set thousands of little cones ... unlike the lush green majority that had received water.

Guess I've been 'blessed' with poor clay soil! Of my seven healthy fig trees, none have ever sent runners, or roots elsewhere. Actually, in the rich orchard soil of a friend - hers never sent ‘runners’ either. Figs will root if their lower branches stay in contact with the soil (that's actually how she started them for friends!). Two un-attended figs of a Brother-in-law never sent runners; they’d simply took over the back yard by re-rooting their ground-touching limbs...

I learned quickly not to train, or prune my figs to one-trunk "trees." The first hard winter I lost them. My same fig-friend had let hers 'clump.' By sending up multiple stems, or trunks (directly up and around their base), the outer ones seem to protect the inner ones during the coldest weather we get. I now let mine send up 'replacement' shoots; it’s also a way of pruning them. I've considered an article for our Pome News describing my pruning methods for figs ... but if you prune their tips, you’ll loose your crop - but if you rotationally remove the oldest / largest of these multiple trunks, allowing the next tier to take their place - you maintain their size and crop nicely! ...It's taken me a decade or so to figure this out…

A Desert King - Yikes -- that's my most vigorous variety! 3' X 3' sounds like a recipe for disaster... Actually, they're so prolific - I bet they'd 'find' a way through that fabric… especially those bricks! I don't see you limiting their size by constricting their root zone, only leading to their demise. My Mother's growing a Desert King in a tight spot; but pruning is what keeps it in balance (my job).

Figs basically replace their underground energy with what they acquire from above; limit their top, and you’ll limit their bottom. I suspect most people never figure out their ways, thus end up with those scary massive clumps! In fact, that thought takes me back to my meter-reading days in Milwaukie, Oregon… Two figs had taken over an entire city lot! Starving, I hid under one on that hot summer day, carefully analyzing its fruit before taking my first bite ever … as I listened to the chatter on my public works radio… I hid under those figs until I got my fill --- and it’s been fig-city around here ever since! No, you’re no more obsessed than the rest of us … but you’ve come to the right place :lol:

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Fri May 04, 2007 10:46 am
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Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 9:18 am
Posts: 51
Post so don't contain the roots?
Thanks for all the enthusiastic info. So if I'm understanding you correctly, you don't think I should try to contain the roots in any way? I have very limited space, and only a small area that gets decent sun and am trying to maximize my food production, so I don't want the fig to sprawl while producing less fruit. I too have poor clay soil.


Fri May 04, 2007 11:09 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1145
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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You're welcome... I tend to go overboard around here :roll:

Personally, I'd leave the roots alone; just keep the "top" balanced with yearly dormant pruning (you can always tie up their leggy limbs in summer). I would also allow 'several' shoots to develop, forming 'multiple trunks.' As mentioned, those can be thinned as they get too big, while leaving others for production.

Desert Kings get big, but they're also the best variety for Portland (though I've not noticed your location?). But just like a standard Gravenstein apple tree -- pruning can keep them in check! Since figs are grown on their 'own roots,' there's no dwarfing from their rootstock.

I say plant it, and keep us posted. I'll happily talk you through some pruning techniques!

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Fri May 04, 2007 3:57 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:54 am
Posts: 88
Location: Essex, England Zone 8
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There used to be a fruit grower in the UK that had a commercial fig orchard and he (like me) was on clay, he never used root restriction, more pruning as Viron's suggestion, that's how I'll be dealing with my 12 figs.


Sun May 06, 2007 3:42 am
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Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 9:18 am
Posts: 51
Post Grand
Thanks very much for the advice. I'm in Vancouver, BC, btw (will have to fix my profile ...)


Sun May 06, 2007 10:35 pm
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