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  • Can you prune central leader mid summer? My 1yr old fig trees are going crazy!

    After starting my cuttings indoors this time last year and going thru a 5 week stall, my fig tree are now going ballistic. The Hardy Ghicago is 9' followed by Col De Dame Blanc to the left and then my two Greek Thrakis Aspra, Whoever said say you can watch corn grow should come to my house and see these fig trees grow! These four have tiny two buds. A little late for figs this time of year in Michigan, unless I move them to my heated garage with high bay leds latter in the year. That's a subject for down the road. I digress.
    The central leaders are about on 1" thick. Can I cut these mid summer to 6"? Have you done this? How do you do it? What can I expect? Thank you, Sal





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    Last edited by Salvatore; 07-28-2021, 11:27 AM.

  • #2
    I pinch the apical bud when (growing as a whip) they get to around 24-30 inches tall to promote scaffold branching. I do this in the summer. Others will just let them grow as whips the first year then do a header cut at the desired height for scaffold branching. There is a lot of information about pruning on the forum.
    Steve
    D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
    WL: Castillon

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    • #3
      Nice looking trees ! we have longer growing season here and do not have to bring inside for winter ,so what i am passing on to you is more general info ,where you cut centrall leader greatly affects the hight of your scafolding branches off the ground ,6 " seams very short to me unless you plan on growing in pots with confined space, ok if planning bush form for inground trees with central standard that centrall leader cut works/looks better at 3-4 feet +- . around here we can prune any time seems most figgers that live in places with hard winters prune during dormancy and often before putting into winter protection to concerve space .San pedro verieties need to have end of season wood preserved if you want breba crop next year . Shure other folks from your climate have better advise ,do you plan on growing in ground trees ,small pots ?large pots ??
      Zone 10a So. Calif. W.L. Super tasty new finds !

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      • Fig Gazer
        Fig Gazer commented
        Editing a comment
        looks like you used " in your post " means inches ' means feet , i think ?

    • #4
      I'm keeping them in containers. 5 Gallon now, maybe 7 gallon next year. I would like to have two to three main branches for winter storage. Don't want short wide plants. They just started to really grow after a long stall period. Just trying to figure out if you can cut a foot off versus pinching. If I pinch it I understand it will branch out, which is what I did not want it to do. If I pinch it, will the energy go to fruit set? Then I could prune them when dormant. I have just a year in and and I'm still learning.

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      • #5
        @Salvatore

        If you head those trees now, the new branches will continue to be robust and some can be as strong as the main trunk. This will make those trees top heavy and weaker main trunks.

        By waiting over the first season, you buy time to build a stronger main trunk. Fig has weak wood. It needs time to build a woody and strong trunk.
        Princeton, New Jersey, 6B
        flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/red-sun/albums
        http://growingfruit.org/ for all fruits

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        • #6
          So your saying let them grow. Don't cut it, don't pinch them. I can do that. The leadesr are strong and thick. I have to set something up so they don't blow over. Thanks Red Sun!

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          • #7
            wow, how do you keep them grow so straight up and tall?
            unbelievable.
            Zone 5/6. WL: Black Ischia UCD, Exquisito, Vern's Brown Turkey, Florea, Iranian Candy, Smith, LSU Hollier&Champagne, Cyperus Honey, Lebnese Baskinta Purple, Col de Dema Blanc, Longue D'aoute

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            • #8
              i ll say let them grow just to see their beauty, forget about fruits!
              Zone 5/6. WL: Black Ischia UCD, Exquisito, Vern's Brown Turkey, Florea, Iranian Candy, Smith, LSU Hollier&Champagne, Cyperus Honey, Lebnese Baskinta Purple, Col de Dema Blanc, Longue D'aoute

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              • #9
                Just get used to picking them up after windy days...! If you decide you really do want to halt their upward progress this year, prune them off a few feet higher than your eventual final height and they will typically push side branches up high. Then at the end of the season you can take them down to your final height, eliminating the higher set side branches in the process.

                Take a look at the Frequently Referenced Topics thread, specifically section 8.a. On tree pruning.
                “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
                – Source Unknown
                MA 5b/6a

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                • LQfig
                  LQfig commented
                  Editing a comment
                  ginamcd, I am a first year figger and have been very pleased with this approach so far. Pinched at 24-30", have 4 or 5 laterals growing now, will select the best of those and prune off the rest when dormant. A few even more vigorous trees already have laterals long enough to be pinched so will have a 3rd year framework in the first summer! I know Dave Serricchio of WTF fame has some examples of doing this on the WTF facebook page as well.

                • ginamcd
                  ginamcd commented
                  Editing a comment
                  LQfig I prefer to grow the single leader with no pinching or pruning for the first growing season. This will result in a very thick main trunk by the start of the second season, which then leads to very thick and strong scaffold branches. I found training for lateral branches in the first season left me with thinner and weaker wood.

              • #10
                Whether you prune, pinch, or set an airlayer at the desired height they will likely grow scaffold branches at that point. You can then prune the branches back to 2 nodes before winter storage, but you want those branches (and 2 nodes) bc that’s where your fruit production will come from next year. Good luck, good looking trees.
                CJ in Memphis 7b/8a….tight eyes, nonsplitters...Pons figs, French figs, Mario figs & tasty Cali seedlings!

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                • #11
                  I would let them grow as much as possible then prune them in the fall at a desired height. At least next year when it resumes growth you can pick an choose which leader branches you want to keep. That’s what I’m trying to do with all my tree. I have a Verns brown Turkey and thats exactly what I did. This is how it looks now at the height of 5 ft.
                  Attached Files
                  Zone 5 Barrie, on

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                  • #12
                    First growing season and your trees are showing you they want to grow, so let them do their thing.

                    Wait until fall to prune and up pot come spring.
                    Garden State 7a

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                    • #13
                      I'm curious how you have fertilized these trees to obtain up to 9 ft of growth.
                      [Figs] -- Eastern Missouri -- Zone 6

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                      • Salvatore
                        Salvatore commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I'm glad you asked. I started them from cuttings this time last year. Grew them over the winter under 300 watt and 500 watt LED high bay lights. When I hardened them off, the tall ones were maybe 4 ft. Went thru a 5 week stall. I started Dr. Bugbees fertilizer protocol about three/four weeks ago. That's when all hell broke loose.
                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwtkHxv_3pU

                        I had pretty much had the same potting mix he uses. Here is my notes from my fig file.

                        Dr. Bugsbee uses the same 20-10-20 solution throughout the life cycle. The optimum input EC is about 1.3 milliSiemens per cm. It is particularly important to keep checking the leachate from the containers to make sure it doesn’t get too high or too low during flowering. The optimum electrical conductivity for the leachate is between 1.3 milliSiemens per cm.
                        So 20-10-20 every feed with a 10% runoff at 1.3 millisiemens / centimeter EC or 910 tds. (In the video he made a mistake by saying ms/m when it is ms/cm) he correct in the comments.

                        Potting Mix: 50% peat 50 Vermiculite provides silica or perlite or shredded wood (hydrofiber)
                        Silica is in vermiculite
                        Add Dolimatic lime =40 grams per cubic ft Provide magnesium.
                        Gypsum” =calcuim pholphate + sulpher ,slow release= 10 grams per cubic ft.

                        This is so easy with a EC meter . One fertilizer. Test the runoff. I use Jack's Citrus which you can by from any nursery selling citrus plants. It is 20-10-20. So much advice out that I decided to to go with a doctor who has studied this for over 30 years. If he is good enough for Nasa to hire for research to grow plants on Mars, His advice is good enough for me.

                    • #14
                      Thank guys, I got the answer I was looking for. I'm going to let them grow. They will be 10 to 14 ft in a couple weeks. I'll post results. Dr. Bugsbee's research on fertilizer is showing big results in just in a couple weeks. 20-10-20 every feed with a 10% runoff at 1.3 millisiemens / centimeter EC or 910 tds. This site is so important to use newbies with all the veteran advice. This year has been good, Next year is going to be wild!

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                      • #15
                        My vote is airlayer. More plants more fun
                        Ike
                        bergen county NJ 6b
                        Wish list: oh lets face it Ill take any variety I dont have!!

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                        • #16
                          Salvatore That is good information you just gave us. Thank you, where can I read on this?
                          Zone 5 Barrie, on

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                          • TNJed
                            TNJed commented
                            Editing a comment
                            He put a YouTube link in his comments 👍🏼

                          • Salvatore
                            Salvatore commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Here is Dr. Bugsbee class on youtube:
                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwtkHxv_3pU
                            Medical industry hired him to do research on cannabis growing. He said this solution works on all fruit, flowers and vegetables. I'm watering five gallon containers with this formula almost everyday with the heat we are getting. They are taking almost 1 gallon of solution per day. And they are loving it! I'm new and I'm not saying I found the Holy Grail, I'm just saying I can't wait to run this for a whole year to see the results. One fertilizer and a ec meter to check where the plants are at. Just got a 55 gallon drum and made a large batch of solution. Tested solution and it was perfect. Like to do a test this winter on this versus Bloom booster.

                          • Vitooch1
                            Vitooch1 commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Salvatore so typically all I need to do is have 50/50 peat/vermiculite and use 20-10-20 fertilizer with a 10% water runoff? How do I know how much is 10%

                        • #17
                          He said in the video to add to the potting mix Dolimatic lime =40 grams per cubic ft it provides magnesium. And also he said add Gypsum” =calcuim pholphate + sulpher ,slow release= 10 grams per cubic ft. to potting
                          You need an EC meter to test the 20-10-20 solution and the runoff. The optimum input EC is about 1.3 milliSiemens per cm. It is particularly important to check the runoff from the containers to make sure it doesn’t get too high or too low. The optimum electrical conductivity for the leachate is between 1.3 milliSiemens per cm.
                          2.4 grams of 20-10-20 per gallon approximate. You got to test it. As far as the runoff test 10% of what you put in. Here is a good video on the meter that I bought: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvksjH9gedQ

                          So 20-10-20 every feed with a 10% runoff at 1.3 millisiemens / centimeter EC or 910 tds. (Total Desollved Solids). I use TDS reading when making solution and testing runoff. I test about once a week. Most EC meters have a tds reading, Some meters don't have a milliSiemens per cm reading. Here's how I converted MS/cm to TDS:
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                          • Vitooch1
                            Vitooch1 commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Thanks Salvatore but what if my soil mix isn’t 50/50. Could I still switch to fertilize what he suggested. Also, do you actually feed the plant 20-10-20 everytime you water? Right now we’ve been getting rain like no tomorrow I can’t even water my pots it’s still moist from the last rain fall. Ive been feeding slow release because of the rain. I’m gonna choose one plant to experiment on. This is really interesting. But Sal I’m curious are you even getting fruit on your trees with this method? Sorry I have so many questions.

                        • #18
                          Salvatore - It will behave the same weather you pinch the tip or cut off a foot.

                          It should induce some scaffold branching but sometimes they're testardi... Branching is another thing...

                          Another thing you can do if you want to take a lot off the top is set a layer right on the main trunk.
                          Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

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                          • #19
                            Hey joe, thanks for the advice. I'm going to have fun with this one. I'm going to let it grow tall and see how high it'll get. Like the Eric Clapton song: let it grow, let it grow, let it blossom ,let it flow! I'm probably not getting figs off with this year so it'll be fun to watch it grow tall. The damn things my most aggressive grower and my least desirable fig. Lady at the nursery gave me a sucker 4 in tall from a container. It sat in my front seat with no water for a couple hours. I threw it in a tree pot with pro mix and threw a bag over it and put it underneath the light. And that Chicago Harding took off. The one good thing is they say that might have come from Sicily. I guess it's a keeper now. Lol . Let it grow let it grow!

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                            • TorontoJoe
                              TorontoJoe commented
                              Editing a comment
                              It's cool when they grow like weeds

                          • #20
                            What zone are you in Sal?
                            Zone 5 Barrie, on

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                            • Salvatore
                              Salvatore commented
                              Editing a comment
                              zone 6, michgan. That's what I'm doing. experimenting. I would say buy the fertilizer and use the instructions on the package. I made the switch 4 weeks I'm getting incredible results.
                              On this one I'm going to trust the science and not the manufacturers of fertilizers and what they claim. Now I got one fertilizer instead of 6. I'm strictly going run this this year and next and see what the results are. Let my know your result.

                          • #21
                            Salvatore What do you mean by 20-10-20 with every feed? Does that mean every time you water or only added when the leachate drops? How often are you actually fertilizing? Post 16.2 you say "they are taking almost 1 gallon of solution per day." Are you fertilizing daily? With 1 gallon of mix per 5 gallon pot?

                            Also, where are you located? NVM. I see from OP that you are in Michigan. See you in a few weeks .
                            NNJ 6B
                            Wishlist: Colar d'Albatera, Mary Magdalene's and the Virgin Mary's Fig, Red Lebanese BV

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                            • Salvatore
                              Salvatore commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Yes I'm using it every time I water, I don't water everyday though but it's been hot lately. Yes I do about 1 gallon water/solution per 5 gallon pot. My potting mix and this water get's me about 10% runoff. Again I want to stipulate I'm very new to this and I just wanted something based on science. Dr, Bubsbee protocol and research is the one I chose to trust. Instead of nitrogen in the beginning and Bloom booster when you see a figlet, tomato this and . etc and and etc. I just replaced a seven different fertilizer protocol with one. As he suggests, You got to have the right potting mix and additives to make this work. Going to find out. If you're going to run this I'd like to keep in touch and compare notes

                            • KDAD
                              KDAD commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Thanks. I started his video a few weeks ago but didn't get too far into it I didn't have the time to devote to paying full attention to it and haven't yet seen it. I do know some who grow and water similarly and will keep you posted if I do a similar experiment. They have been growing indoors with 4 harvests per year with vegetative cycles followed by flowering cycles triggered by amount of light per day. All watering contains a fert and nutrient mix depending upon the cycle so I do have a resource of someone who is actually doing it.

                          • #22
                            You got to appreciate the Cannabis to Fig references here! Also, don't worry about the "I'm new"... there's always something new to learn.

                            I'm not understanding the combination of Dolomite lime and Gypsum as Dolomite Lime also adds Calcium with Magnesium while increasing pH. Unless I missed it, are you not looking at pH? Just EC and TDS? I understand that EC and TDS play a part in nutrient uptake, but pH is the major one and last I check a good water source usually has a low TDS reading. If you add too much fertilizer to your mix, EC will kick up toward 2 instead of the lower range of 1 where you want to be at when starting your fig tree out vs when they start fruiting.

                            Last edited by minacio; 07-29-2021, 10:12 AM.
                            Garden State 7a

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                            • Vitooch1
                              Vitooch1 commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Do you know what ph is good for figs plants?

                            • minacio
                              minacio commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Seems the general consensus here is 6.0 to 6.5. If you have low pH add Dolomitic Lime to increase it. If you're in the ideal pH range Calcium uptake is really important to plants (fig trees) so the recommendation by some is to add gypsum to keep Calcium up, but I've been using bone meal instead.

                          • #23
                            The problem is when it rains I’m not able to water as it will over water. We’ve been getting rain every few days here. Maybe I can replace it with slow release 20-10-20
                            Zone 5 Barrie, on

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                            • #24
                              Basically this method is mainly for optimal growth. I think its great for it’s first year growth especially with our short summers but I don’t think it’s great for fruiting on the second year. It’s really jacks them up 💪. I would go withTheMillennialGardener method on the fruiting. I’d like to know his take on this method. Thanks Salvatore I’m glad I came across your post.
                              Zone 5 Barrie, on

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                              • Salvatore
                                Salvatore commented
                                Editing a comment
                                I respect The Millennial Gardener and watch a lot of his video's and have learned a lot from him. The reason I'm trying Dr. Bugbee formula is I could not find any real scientific research that bloom booster high phosphorus fertilizer produces more flower or fruit. I'm not saying it doesn't work, people swear by it. What I am saying where is the real data? At 34:30 in the Doctor's s video he says plant need less phosphorus than nitrogen and potassium. After 30 years of study he says this and then he says he runs this 20-10-20 the whole cycle. I'm almost tempted to do a study this winter on bloom booster versus.20-10-20 on fruit production to see. I will know the answer next year when I run 20-10-20 the whole year. I know people are going to comment on this, but don't comment "well this works for me" Come with some scientific data on Bloom booster please. I also know figs are different than marijuana plants and vegetable plants. Hell, he cuts the light from 20 hour to 12 to get cannabis to fruit or bud. "The cannabis plant uses a special system known as "photoperiodism" to to determine when to mature and produce buds/pollen/seeds. ... When growers give the plants shorter light periods during the day, this is mimicking what happens in the wild. The shorter days "tell" the plant that winter is coming." That's different then Fig plants plant right? These are things I'm trying figure out and have to consider. Someone enlighten me .

                            • #25
                              The beginning part of the video can be skipped. Around 22.41 Best soils and additives is interesting. The use of an EC meter to see how much you are fertigating your trees before and after in the runoff is interesting because you can measure the level of fertilizer uptake by using a meter. (That's definitely interesting!) I'm definitely guilty of burning my plants before but I have always wondered if I'm fertilizing them enough.
                              Garden State 7a

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                              • Salvatore
                                Salvatore commented
                                Editing a comment
                                You got me thinking so I checked my pH and I'm running 6 to 6.5. I'm hitting them hard with solution. My potting mix is pretty much what he has. After watching his video I added the Dolomitic Lime and Gypsum. I'm good there. He says at 30.35 in the video with his additives and solution he get around 5.5 ph.

                              • minacio
                                minacio commented
                                Editing a comment
                                It's definitely a super interesting video so thanks for sharing! If I was going to grow Cannabis (Medical), I would follow his directions exactly. Since we're growing figs, I think you'll need to deviate some. ;-)

                                I like to keep my fertilizing simple too and this year I tried adding Dolomitic Lime. I discovered one of my trees had pH under 5.0 so I did about 1 cup Lime per 5 gallons soil and went from 2.5-foot tree to over 6 feet. There are other variables to this (obviously), but I think we're both benefiting from increased amounts of calcium and magnesium.
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