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  • Thoughts on an 8' LSU Purple with two branches?

    Hi Everyone,

    I've been browsing the forum for a few months now and after some thought, decided to purchase an LSU Purple tree from a reputable vendor (FastGrowingTrees.com). I selected their "5-6 foot" size, with the hope of getting at least a few figs this year, albeit not the tastiest. The tree arrived yesterday and I wasn't expecting this. I've attached some pics to this post for reference.

    The tree that arrived is a little over 8 feet tall, with two small 10-12" branches about 4 feet up, and no other branches until the top of the tree where there are six large leaves near the shoot apex. The branches that grew out from the trunk in the past have all been removed, and the top 1/3rd of the tree is bent where it is taller than the bamboo stake and has no support.

    My plan is to plant the tree into a well-draining pot and leave it outside in my backyard for the summer in the middle of Washington, DC (near the National Cathedral) , but I'm not exactly sure where I should go from there. I'm not planning to prune anything back right now or anytime in the near future. Any suggestions at all would be greatly appreciated.

    I'm not sure why nearly all the branches were cut on this tree and the tree allowed to get so tall, other than for the purpose of being sold at a higher price for its height and branches removed for ease of shipping.

    If you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to answer them!

    Thanks in advance,

    Click image for larger version

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  • #2

    That is just, wow!

    The first think I think when I see something like that is air layer 1/2 way up and have 2 trees.
    I have purchased a few trees from them....all seem to be pretty good so far. (not fig trees)

    But yea, I would set an air layer right above the lower branches, So there are leaves to supple the bottom half.

    What ever you do, good luck and happy growing!
    Kevin, N. Ga 7b Cheers!

    Wishing all of you a bountiful harvest!


    • TNJed
      TNJed commented
      Editing a comment
      Yeah I agree with Kevin. Set an AL at about 3’ and secure it to that stake. And clip the apical about 3’ above the AL imo….

    • sugammadex_please
      sugammadex_please commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for the welcome and suggestion about air layering. I've done some reading up and I think I'm going to go the route you suggested.

      Do you think it's too late in the season for me to set an air layer now?

    • Ktrain
      Ktrain commented
      Editing a comment
      If you have preferably 6 weeks of good warm weather left sure, though you know you can leave the air layer on throughout the winter if it doesn't root sufficiently.
      So I say yes!

      I started 2 yesterday.

  • #3
    I suppose you will have to figure out what you plan to do with it long term... is this tree going in-ground at some point or living it's life in a container??? The two are headed down different roads for management.

    For now, I would just do as you stated. Get it hardened off... and up-potted to at least a 5gal pot.

    Let it get strong... and after it get's over the transplant shock... consider pinching the tip of the tallest branch to encourage side branching (if that is the shape that you seek). Are you going to let it turn into a bush or try and maintain a tree form??? Some folks like being able to ride a mower directly up to the trunk so they don't have to weed-eat. While others like to have wide/low branching for easy grazing.

    Then late next Spring after the soil temps are nearing 70F... find it a home in the ground somewhere... or an even larger pot if that is what you want.

    Wither the tree is going into the ground or into life in a pot... Proper sunlight penetration into the canopy will make a difference on the final product... in terms of both fruit quantity and sugar production. Wither in a pot or the ground... I aim to get my trees direct sunlight from Sunrise till Sunset.

    I live in a humid area like you and this also adds in keeping the rust off of the leaves. The added sunlight and airflow will dry the leaves off much quicker. Which keeps the tree from defoliating. Which steps up sugar production. Which in turn... decreases spoilage and increases flavor. Silica helps with this as well....

    I am a newb though! lol



    • sugammadex_please
      sugammadex_please commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi Marty,

      Since we can go well below freezing for several days at a time here in DC, my tree won't be going in-ground. I have it squeezed into a 5 gallon pot right now, but I think I'm going to move it to a 7 gallon pot in the next day or so just because the root ball in the original burlap sack is a tight fit.

      If I wanted to encourage side branching, where exactly would I pinch along the tip? Above or below a certain point?

      Thank you for the advice on maintenance. It is certainly wet and humid here in DC and I'm considering spraying copper fungicide on the leaves to ward off any rust.

    • great08
      great08 commented
      Editing a comment
      I always keep first year trees (no matter the species) in a container for the first Winter (unless I had a chance to plant it in early Spring).

      I do this mainly because they have not had a chance yet to build lignification in the wood or a protective bark layer. Which is the main thing trees have to protect themselves against the cold.

      This takes FOREVER in citrus... which is why it is so weak against cold. Which is why folks take a cold tolerant type of citrus like Owari Satsuma... and then graft it onto trifoliate orange root stock. The trifoliate rootstock will slow down growth rapidly in late Summer/Early fall... which induces more lignification into the wood of the citrus that is grafted onto it.... and can usually increase Winter hardiness by 5F to 10F. I live in Chesapeake, VA and plan to have some in-ground citrus at some point. I just have to keep them in a pot for a season or two... then plant them into a micro climate and heavily protect on those deep freezes for the first 5 years or so. After that I can just throw on a heavy moving blanket when we get those nor'easters once every few years.

      This lignification thing is why most figsters in cold climates quit fertilizing early in the year and use low nitrogen fert after the first year. Slower wood growth = higher Winter survival of the new growth.

      For pinching... you literally just walk out and pinch off the tip of the new growth of the plant with your fingers. You can do all the way to above the most recent leaf. Then... a branch/or fig will be forced to pop out of the "Arm Pit" of a lot of the leaf nodes of the leaves below that point. This will cause growth to slow and lignification to increase as well.

      For figs that have lost most of their lower leaves... you can see little segments/lines in the bark. There will usually be a little bump or two around those lines.

      Those lines are usually where the roots will come out too when setting air layers or rooting cuttings. So if doing an air layer... cut the bark away below one of those lines and set an air layer on top of it.

      I pinch-tip my blackberries as well. When the main branch gets to the length I want... I pinch the tip off. Doing this on the main canes creates a vase shaped plant that is sturdy and heavy producing.

  • #4
    Wow! That’s one amazing BBFC (big beautiful ficus carica)!

    I agree. Pot it, stake it, fertilize it, pinch it to try to thicken the stem, set up to 10 air layers if you want more trees, set it in full sun, and cut it down to size after it goes dormant (1’-4’ depending on preference). I’d cut around February.
    Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Verdolino, Black Celeste


    • sugammadex_please
      sugammadex_please commented
      Editing a comment
      Hahaha thanks! It was quite the surprise when it arrived to say the least...

      Can you tell me more about pinching? Is there a specific spot or area that I should use?

      I think I am going to set a single air layer, slightly above the two branches. Do you think it's too late in the season for me start a air layer?

    • don_sanders
      don_sanders commented
      Editing a comment
      Pinching is simply breaking off the tip of a stem or branch. The green closed but in the last 1/4".

      It stops the current growth of a stem/branch for about 2 weeks and promotes branching (normally clustered in the last 2-4 nodes at the tip of the branch), lignification (browning/hardening of a stem/branch), thickening of the stem/branch, and helps promote fruit development (not guaranteed but can help encourage...some disagree and think it has no impact). I believe that it can also help promote root development on air layers.

      If you set it soon, the air layer will probably be fine. It normally takes them 1-2 months to grow roots well and can be detached. If you don't get enough roots, you could just remove the potting mix and leave the branch. You could also leave an air layer that doesn't have enough roots on over the winter but I wouldn't with yours. I'd prefer to cut it off either way.
      Last edited by don_sanders; 08-02-2021, 01:48 PM.

    • sugammadex_please
      sugammadex_please commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you so much, Don! That was super informative! I'll be sure to update this post with my progress.

  • #5
    Remember you want to balance the roots with the top or vice-versa. It appears to me to have been growing in a pretty shady area would be my guess for the height. My advice would be don't do anything drastic until it goes dormant...just try to keep it alive, well watered and out of direct, strong 🌞!
    Eugene OR 8b


    • sugammadex_please
      sugammadex_please commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the advice! My goal is to just keep it alive in this very wet and humid summer in DC and then make a decision come winter/early spring.