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  • Letting it grow as a whip vs making a heading cut?

    Hi everyone,

    I purchased my first fig this year and I am quite an inexperienced gardener. The fig is 1-2 years old and about 2 feet tall above the soil line, and I plan on up-potting it to a 5 gallon container in early spring which is in a few weeks. After doing some reading on this site, I would like advice on whether I should either:

    1. Make a heading cut at ~16 inches (approx. 5-6 nodes below the apical bud) and prune off the branches circled in red, and hope the tree will put out some scaffolding branches.

    Or

    2. Not make a heading cut and let the tree continue to grow as a whip to enable the caliper to become thicker and stronger (it is currently ~1cm, and I think AscPete has mentioned before that a heading cut should be made when the caliper is 3/4 inch thick). If I let it grow as a whip I'm thinking of pinching the apical bud when it gets to 6-7 feet tall (quoted elsewhere on the site).

    I guess I'm asking whether I should start the scaffolding process this growing season or in the next growing season as I'm worried the caliper is too small to provide good support for future scaffolding branches and fruit, and I'm not sure the trunk will thicken if I try to make a heading cut too early?

    Either way I will prune off the side branches in red, but I am also tossing up whether I should keep the side branch with the arrow pointing at it (as I might use this as a future scaffolding branch) or just cut it back too, so any advice on that would be welcome too.

    What are your thoughts? Thanks
    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 1 photos.

  • #2
    Hi! Do you want to grow this plant all year round indoors or do you have a terrace?
    Андрей. N.-W. Кавказ, пень Абрау, 7б-8а

    Comment


    • llama_socks
      llama_socks commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi, I live in an apartment but I have a balcony so I plan to leave it on the balcony for the foreseeable future.

  • #3
    In this case you need to grow a solid base for side branches and fruiting, for resistance to heat and wind. I do not know how best to grow figs in your conditions (rather unique), I just suggest thinking about a "compact" option. In the first half of summer, figs grow very strongly and lay the buds of the main crop. If it is watered and fertilized, the figs will quickly become too large for the balcony and will have to be heavily pruned. Compact cultivation is to severely limit watering and feeding in the middle of summer + the physiological state of the plant will change due to extreme heat and the figs will move from vegetative growth of shoots to the development of inflorescences / fruits. I managed to keep two varieties from strong growth - Brunswik and Brown Turkish. Now there are about 10 large green fruits on each and there is no growth of green shoots. I am trying to apply such a regime only this year .. So far, this is only a forced "experiment" due to the lack of fresh water, but this method seems interesting to me if it passes the test of time. This is quite convenient - 3-4 buds / syconium at the end of each young branch grow, receiving both sun and water without restrictions, the crown of the fig remains small.
    Addendum: I wonder what others think, but I would not cut it now, I waited for spring.
    Андрей. N.-W. Кавказ, пень Абрау, 7б-8а

    Comment


    • acerpictum
      acerpictum commented
      Editing a comment
      llama_socks Yes, if you do not cut the top, then the central trunk will grow one season longer than the side branches and will be thicker, and the plant will be more stable. I do not know how important this is for you. In general, for a single plant, you can find a way to keep it from overturning and damage. In my opinion, for decorative purposes, it is better to form figs in the first year. For good, maximum yields, probably in the second year.

    • llama_socks
      llama_socks commented
      Editing a comment
      acerpictum thanks for the input! Do you have any tips to protect the fig from wind damage on my balcony? I live 9 floors up and sometimes it does get windy here even in summer so I'm not sure how to prevent the plant from falling over besides staking it.

    • acerpictum
      acerpictum commented
      Editing a comment
      llama_socks For stabilization, drainage stones made of granite or broken red brick can be placed on the bottom of the pot / bucket. I use both. If the balcony fence has rails / handrails, then you can fix the plant with cord-line with carabiner.

  • #4
    If it were mine, I would stub back all the side branches and let the tree focus on building up it's main trunk. All though the next growing season I would pinch off any new side branches that try to form. My experience had been that any diversion of energy on a side branch will only slow down the thickening of the main trunk.

    Take a look at the forum sticky thread of Frequently Referenced Topics where you'll find a section on "Japanese Tree Pruning," It has a lot of great information and diagrams to help tree with pruning and shaping.
    “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
    – Source Unknown
    MA 5b/6a

    Comment


    • ginamcd
      ginamcd commented
      Editing a comment
      What I do is select the nodes where I want my scaffolds to grow from, and immediately eliminate any that start growing in other spots. You could easily do the same with any others that try to grow where you don't want them.

    • llama_socks
      llama_socks commented
      Editing a comment
      ginamcd okay, sounds good. thanks for the advice, I appreciate it

    • ginamcd
      ginamcd commented
      Editing a comment
      Your welcome. Good luck with it!
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