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  • Figs in pots - to bury or not

    I grow most of my figs in pots (Eastern MA Zone 5b/6a) and was wondering if anyone had any experience with burying the pots in the ground after they come out of winter storage. I'm planning a new garden area and I was thinking of setting aside most of that area for fig trees. The new area gets full sun starting at about 10am through the end of the day.

    When the figs go dormant in the fall, I'll dig them up and put them in winter storage.

    I've searched the other forum but didn't see anything on this one yet so I figured I'd ask here.

    How many people bury their potted figs?

    Is there anything I should keep in mind when I do this?

    I've included a few links that describe the process.

    http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post?id=5265618

    http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox....method-4728896

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by fitzski; 03-17-2015, 09:57 AM. Reason: Clarification.
    Kevin (Eastern MA - Zone 5b/6a)

  • #2
    I've partially buried my figs in pots, in soil, in the past, and won't on purpose again. I was thinking it would be an advantage to the tree for the roots to grow into the soil - and it may have been - but it was not an advantage to me to have to dig and clip (sometimes really nice roots) when it was time to move or transplant. Never again. Just too much work when one has so many figs.

    Also, if you have RKN (root knot nematodes) in your soil, you are more likely to expose the fig roots to that problem when sunk in the soil.
    SoCal, zone 10.
    www.ourfigs.com Invite your friends.

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    • #3
      I have 30+ trees in the ground. I live in Chicago and wont plant in ground anymore. Because our weather system is too fast. One extreme to another. I almost lose 3 five year old tree from this heat wave. Went from -0F last week today is 78F. I had to uncover to save from mold where if they were in pots I could have just being indoors. No I must watch temps because is supposed to frost 22F tomorrow night so now I must put blanket over them. I've got 7/8 foot trees in 25 gal Rubbermaid slop buckets and one by my brother in wooden wine barrel with wheels in bottom to roll in the garage in winter. Trust me is huge headache to wrap or burry fig in this climate.
      Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
      1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy 👼🏼.
      2) This weeks ebay auctions.

      Comment


      • fitzski
        fitzski commented
        Editing a comment
        These figs will only be planted in the ground during the growing season. When they go dormant in the Fall they will go into winter storage. I'm hoping that I can get a larger crop that just the ones in pots. It's going to be an interesting season.

    • #4
      I did 3 buried pots for the first time last year. I had great results. More figs and growth. I covered the holes on the bottom and created several 1" holes around the lower sides of the pot. I dug a hole and buried the pot about 3/4 deep. The surrounding dirt was loosened so the roots wouldn't have to work so hard once they grew out of the pot. In the fall, I did have some thick roots I had to cut through, but just ensure you prune the top growth for this year, so the tree is balanced.
      Frank ~ zone 7a VA

      Comment


      • fitzski
        fitzski commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks, Frank. I'm hoping for the the results you had last year, more figs and more growth. I have a bunch 2 and 3 year trees that I'm looking forward to sampling this year.

        In my new garden area, I plan on double digging the soil and amending with compost and nutrients so it should be fairly loose. Between the pots I planed to plant some sort of green manure like clover.

    • #5
      Kevin , I only have a few spots where I can plant pots in the ground.
      I wait until tomato planting time so the soil they go into is actually warm. Before that they do the fig shuffle with everything else and have the advantage of warming up faster than actual in ground fig plants.
      Those pots have holes on the sides only, from the very bottom of the sides up 3/4's of the way to top.
      I drill lots of holes from dime size to quarter size. With side holes only it makes it very easy to dig up by slicing down the sides to cut roots in late Fall.
      The ones I've done like this have grown and produced even better than the SIPs.
      My soil is sandy so I can bury them halfway or more and it helps to stop top heavy ones from blowing over.
      I don't have nematode problems so it works well for me to put them in the few spots I have that are available.
      Your new garden area sounds good to me for figs , but it would be nicer if it got the sun even earlier in the day.
      Didn't get a chance to look at the links above sorry if any of this is a repeat.
      Kerry - NH zone 5
      Wish list - Del Sen Jaume Gran , Angelito ,Thermalito , Exquisito , Campaniere, Teramo , White Madeira #1 .

      Comment


      • fitzski
        fitzski commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks for mentioning when you plant the pots as that was another question I had. All my figs are in commercial nursery pots which only have holes on the bottom sides. Do you think that will be enough?

        With respect to the sun, I don't get morning sun before 10 due to a row of trees next to my house. But from 10 on it's sun all day long.

        I did look at the links but I wanted to ask again to see if there was any additional information available.

    • #6
      I bury between 15-25 pots each spring about 8-10 inches deep depending on size of pot. I will do the same thing in the next 2-3 weeks. All of my pots are the same with only holes at the bottom sides. No holes on the bottom. This allows for the roots to grow out the bottom and obtain moisture and nutrients from the ground soil. I mulch the exposed area of the pot with 4-8 inches of pine straw. In the fall, the straw is removed and all roots that have exited the pots are severed with a shovel and the pots are returned to the garage for winter storage.
      newnandawg 7b Newnan, GA

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      • #7
        I am going to do this for a few this year. I have a few 6 gallon buckets as pots and only drilled holes in the sides at the bottom for drainage, for just this purpose. I am hoping I won't need to water as often, and the benefit of root pruning every year without having to remove the tree from the pot.

        Since I have clay below about 6" of topsoil, I will be burying them very shallow. Clay holds water, so digging into clay typically results in drowned plants due to pooled water.
        Phil
        Zone 7A - Newark, DE; Zone 8A - Wilmington, NC;

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        • fitzski
          fitzski commented
          Editing a comment
          I plan on double digging the new garden beds and amending it with compost so I'm hoping the soil surrounding the pots will be fairly loose and drain well. Time will tell though. It's going to be an interesting season.

      • #8
        Another thing to consider if you live in a warmer drought area, not the NE like Fitzski... If you have plants in sunken pots that you water, and the surrounding soil is dry, the roots of adjacent shrubs and trees not being watered will grow into the holes in the bottoms of the pots and proliferate. When I revamped my blueberries this past fall/winter, I was surprised how many of them had invading root systems happily living in the bb pots. Now even my potted bbs are not sunk in - I want to be able to periodically turn the pots to prevent any thirsty invaders.
        SoCal, zone 10.
        www.ourfigs.com Invite your friends.

        Comment


        • fitzski
          fitzski commented
          Editing a comment
          I hadn't even thought about other plants roots invading the buried pots. Fortunately, these figs will be in a few dedicated garden beds (probably around 3' x 8-10') with probably only a green mulch (clover or something like that) growing between the pots.

      • #9
        I use to do many like burying about 2 to 3 " of the pot bottom. Now I don't bother. That said, if I were to grow an in-ground tree I
        would bury about 2" of the pot. This allows me to control the tree's growth via root pruning.

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        • #10
          I've trialed "burial" of pots for the past 3 years and they have yielded better overall growth than SIPs.
          16 - 3/4" diameter holes along the side at the bottom edge of a 5 gallon bucket, no holes in the bottom.
          The bottom 2 -3 inches of the bucket are "buried" with compost and mulch, its very easy to move to winter storage and root prune in the fall.

          The pictured Champagne container is on a gravel path with a layer of compost and mulch covering the holes...
          Click image for larger version

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          Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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          • fitzski
            fitzski commented
            Editing a comment
            thanks for the comments Pete. I was also thinking of doing some SIPs but I think I'll try this first in my new garden area.

        • #11
          Thanks for all the comments. I'll post pictures of the new fig garden when it's ready.
          Kevin (Eastern MA - Zone 5b/6a)

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          • #12
            im sorry when I posted previous reply I did not understand that you planting trees in the ground IN the pot. My trees are planted directly in the ground. Can I ask what is benefit of planting in the pot besides easy winter storage, are you not stressing tree or prolonging large growth by cutting the root system every fall? Also I understand by make holes in pot for root to stretch does root bound still happen a little? The trees I have in ground grow very very fast as where the potted ones do not. I'm just curious because I plan to leave mine potted above ground but if this helps buy placing whole pot IN ground I will do this.. This is picture of me and my papa. I am 6'4 tall and is bigger then me. This is in the slop bucket and was 2 year old when taken.
            You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 1 photos.
            Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
            1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy 👼🏼.
            2) This weeks ebay auctions.

            Comment


            • fitzski
              fitzski commented
              Editing a comment
              Hi, thanks for comments. I should have explained a little more what I was planning on doing.

              In Eastern MA (Zone 5b/6a), I'd have to winter protect all my trees in order for them to be in the ground. Othwerwise they would die back every year. I only have 1 tree in-ground and that's from a relative (my sister-in-laws father) and I wrap that every year.

              I have many 2-3yr old trees that are in pots and I'm debating whether or not to plant some of these in-ground or to just keep them in pots. I have heard from many folks on this forum and the other one that you can grow and have good results by growing them in pots and then storing them in the winter.

              So this year, I'm going to try the partially buried pots idea and see what the results are. Maybe when my trees are older I'll plant a few in-ground but for now I'm going to keep my young ones in pots.

          • #13
            I've sunk a few pots in the ground each year. If a pot has a drain hole in the middle I found that it helps to put something like a large flat stone, a piece of sheet metal or a cement patio stone down first and set the pot on that. If a root grows out the hole then it will not grow straight down making it hard to dig up in the Fall. Just make sure that whatever you use that it's at least an inch or two larger than the bottom of the pot. It saves you from digging a crater just to cut one root.
            Wishlist; Green Michurinska, St. Rita
            Tony
            Sarver, PA Zone 6A.

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            • #14
              i believe we have same zone. All my tree in ground I never lose or have to cut back to ground level. It is very simple to wrap for winter if you do not want to lean over and burry it. As long as you watch the weather they will be fine and all I use is A roll of wall insulation and a plastic tarp. Insulation around tree tarp over all and tie. Finish. I feel by cutting roots or digging up does not let it gain its full potential to produce fruits. I thinks haha I just uncover mine.
              You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 2 photos.
              Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
              1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy 👼🏼.
              2) This weeks ebay auctions.

              Comment


              • fitzski
                fitzski commented
                Editing a comment
                ok, thanks. I'll have to try that when some of my trees are old enough for in-ground planting.

                Do you ever have rodent damage?

                I've heard that sometimes mice/voles eat the bark off the in-ground trees at ground level.

              • drphil69
                drphil69 commented
                Editing a comment
                Very nice! Are you in Italy? What part?

              • Taverna78
                Taverna78 commented
                Editing a comment
                Grazie,
                No sir I live in Plainfield Illinois which is southwest suburb of Chicago illinois.
                My family is from Taverna and Sorbo San Basile CZ Italia

            • #15
              So sir never. I go to hair salon by my house the day I cover and ask for a bag of hair clipping. If you look at base of tree you'll see mulch over the entire center. This mulch is mixed with human hair and moth balls. When I cover with tarp I spike down ends of tarp or use bricks to hold down and just rake extra mulch over the ends of tarp so they can not get in. In spring I cut small slices in tarp so fresh air gets in which I normsll start now but this month weather forced me to uncover completely.
              Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
              1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy 👼🏼.
              2) This weeks ebay auctions.

              Comment


              • fitzski
                fitzski commented
                Editing a comment
                thanks for the tip, i'll have to keep that in mind when I get to having more than 1 in-ground tree.

            • #16
              fitzski commented Today, 05:28 AM

              I hadn't even thought about other plants roots invading the buried pots. Fortunately, these figs will be in a few dedicated garden beds (probably around 3' x 8-10') with probably only a green mulch (clover or something like that) growing between the pots.
              Roots invading pots taking advantage of their moisture probably happens more often in very dry environments were rain does not fall for 6-7-8 months on end, surrounding soil is bone-dry, and general irrigation is not happening. (Like in our current drought situation) You are in MA so I doubt this is much of an issue where the ground is often moist in the summer.

              Your plants are probably also are only sending roots into the soil for maybe 8 months before you have to clip them and then drag the pots inside again because of the cold. Here figs stay outside year-round often actively growing into the fall/winter months, so roots growing out and into the soil can get fairly impressive without being noticed, esp after maybe 18 months.

              I'm not arguing against this technique - In the yard I set the pots up for it to happen because I thought the plants would benefit. And many of them did (except for the rkn (nematodes)). But for myself, the subsequent work involved of digging them up and in some cases having to remove really large roots was more than I want to deal with again.
              Last edited by Gina; 03-17-2015, 11:14 AM.
              SoCal, zone 10.
              www.ourfigs.com Invite your friends.

              Comment


              • #17
                It isn't necessary to bury the pots. Mine are just placed on the ground and always root outside the pot if the plant is more than 2 years old. When it's time to bring them in I try to get as much of the in-ground root to go in with the plant as possible. Whatever wont pull out easily gets a swift slash from a utility blade.
                Bob C. KC, MO Zone 6a. Wanted: Martineca Rimada, Galicia Negra, Fioroni Ruvo, De La Reina - Pons, Tauro, BFF, Sefrawi, Sbayi, Mavra Sika , Fillaciano Bianco, Corynth, Souadi, Acciano Purple, LSU Tiger, LSU Red, Cajun Gold, BB-10 any great tasting fig

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                • #18
                  Kevin, I buried about 4 dozen plants last year as well.
                  As mentioned before, burying them makes the pots more stable, so they won't tip over.
                  The drain holes on the sides are much better than on the bottom, for ease in pulling them up in the Fall. Drilling the drain holes 1"-2" from the bottom allows you a little bit of a water reservoir, and didn't seem to affect my trees in a negative way.
                  I buried 5-gallon buckets 2' apart, which was a little too close. They were about 50% buried.
                  In the Fall, I dug a trench about 1' away from the row of buckets, then worked my way closer. A trench on the opposite side allowed me to tilt most of the pots, and loosen a lot of roots without much damage. Some, like Alma, had massive roots that spread as much as 8', and completely plugged the drain holes with girthy roots. They were sliced with the shovel.
                  All the extra roots I managed to keep were maneuvered through the drain holes by laying the pot on its side and pulling the plant away from the the pot, as I guided the roots in.
                  I'm sure by planting on a berm, it would be easier to pull plants up in the Fall.
                  I won't lie - some of them will have roots that'll scare you, and will give you quite a workout, but they will definitely be stronger and healthier with this method. Less watering, less fertilizing (which evidently is important that we don't overdo here in the NE, because it seems to affect cold hardiness) and no branches being broken by toppling of pots during a windy period.
                  Last note, if you drill holes a ways from the bottom of the pot, just be aware of how much water is sitting in that reservoir during storage. If you can't lift the plant out of the pot, you can always lay it on its side to allow the extra water to drain out.
                  In short I vote yea
                  Last edited by Rui; 03-17-2015, 11:14 PM. Reason: Sentence structure and spelling...

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                  • fitzski
                    fitzski commented
                    Editing a comment
                    thanks for the all the information from your experience last year. I had problems last year with my figs toppling over during the summer thunderstorms so burying them should help. I'm also hoping one the "less watering" part that you mentioned. Most of my figs are now in commercial nursery pots so all the holes are on the bottom/sides so I won't be able to take advantage of the reservoir that you have in your pots.

                    Thanks again and happy figging.

                • #19
                  Does anyone if there is a video anywhere on this topic?
                  WL La Radek BT, Improved Celeste, Florea

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                  • #20
                    Here is one that some one posted while back.

                    https://youtu.be/syP2Vm2H_6E
                    Zone 8a. Virginia

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                    • #21
                      Ross Raddi has a video on it here:
                      https://youtu.be/tNOYQNbOvAk

                      Archie (now in Winnipeg, MB! Wait, what? I'm in Zone 3?!)

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                      • #22
                        I've been doing this technique for years with many of my potted plants. They grow as well as ones I have in similarly sized sips, maybe better. I only drill and bury the bottom third or so of the bucket, that makes it easier to get them out. Some have suggested that this process may replicate and eliminate the need for root pruning/repotting. Next year I will compare some which I repot with other I don't.
                        Jesse in western Maine, zone 4/5
                        Wishlist- Figues Juane, Demos unk, Nantes Maroc, Thermalito

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                        • FigsNorth
                          FigsNorth commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I'd be interested to learn the results of that comparison.

                        • Rico891
                          Rico891 commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Even if some root pruning is needed, it should be easier than it would be with a root-bound tree, eh?

                        • cvarcher
                          cvarcher commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Jesse, after some years though wont the roots simply get denser and choke themselves off. Your only chopping off the outer roots that grow out of the holes.I would even think there would be no soil left in that root ball after 5 6 years. It would be a solid mass of tight bound roots. This is why in bonsai practice you always cut out a pie section from the root ball every 3-4 years and rotate that pie cut around the perimeter of the root ball to thin down the roots as well as shorten everything both in outward diameter and length. Then it will,be happy going back in the same size pot.
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