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  • Hardiness Questions

    I have room to put my trees in the ground. Is there a list of more cold sensitive varieties, and would grafting to a hardier tree increase chances of survival? Or would it just die back to the union as I suspect?
    Oaken Rose, Hillsborough, NC Zone 8a

  • #2
    Would die back to the graft. Think the grafted trees could be a good idea for the warm weather folks but for those in cold areas, just don't see the benefits unless they are garage kept and well protected.

    Even in NC I think you would be wise to keep the trees in pots for a year at least to get some size on them before you put them in ground OR be willing and able to protect them in ground the first winter. Even here in Central Florida I have had figs I started in the winter and placed in the ground in the spring hit 5' tall by fall and get frozen to the ground the first winter. They are pretty dang sensitive that first winter. Far as the more cold hardy varieties, I will let others comment on as it is not something I pay much attention to.
    Cutting sales have ended for the season. Plant sales will start March 1 at 8 eastern time. If it is still too cold in your area I can hold your plants till a date of your choosing.

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    • #3
      Was it Harvey who was selling that grafted Madeira? Harvey, might you be selling more of those soon?

      I typically give my plants 2 years before I put them in the ground if I am unsure about hardiness, I guess I'm wondering how well most varieties will do here after that hardening off period. I have 2 figs that have been on the property for years, so I am hoping I can successfully grow many more outdoors.
      Oaken Rose, Hillsborough, NC Zone 8a

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      • #4
        Member Kelby has a list he made up of hardy figs, this is from the link in his sig:
        https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...#gid=210393602
        Ed
        SW PA zone 6a

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        • #5
          Fig trees are indigenous to a dry temperate climate, Zone 9 - 10. They're very adaptable, not really Cold Hardy but there are several cultivars that are "Hardier". Member Kelby has posted a compilation of Hardy Fig Cultivars .

          Grafting for figs provides the advantage of healthier rootstock to boost the health and growth of scion, but doesn't change the "hardiness" of the exposed limbs. They will still die back when exposed to extended temperatures below 20* F. (teens and below). Exposed green or unlignified wood will die back at temperatures below freezing (warmer than 20* F) which is one reason why its recommended to plant young trees in ground after a few seasons growth in pots, the other reason is to establish a good sized root mass. In my experience, one gallon plants can be planted in ground their first season but have to be winterized (heavily mulched and wrapped) to prevent die back and excessively cold root temperatures. I've had zero winter kill of in ground one gallon fig trees planted 2 to 3 feet deep in Zone 6 and 7.

          Good Luck.



          Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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          • Oaken Rose
            Oaken Rose commented
            Editing a comment
            Pete, do you bury the trunk 2-3 feet or mulch up to 2-3 feet deep?

          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Both, burying the root ball 2 - 3 feet and providing a couple feet of 'mulch' to cover the branches can insure minimal die back for young and or tender cultivars.

        • #6
          Oh man, that is such a useful spreadsheet!
          Oaken Rose, Hillsborough, NC Zone 8a

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          • Kelby
            Kelby commented
            Editing a comment
            Glad you like it!

        • #7
          Oaken Rose,
          The root ball is buried 2 - 3 feet deep to benefit from the soils thermal mass and to "simulate" an extended period of in ground growth (deeper roots), note the attached photos and the original "wooden stake" in the center of frame for scale.
          If the above ground growth was protected (winterized) it would have survived the cold weather this past winter.
          You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 6 photos.
          Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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          • Oaken Rose
            Oaken Rose commented
            Editing a comment
            Excellent. Great, thank you.

        • #8
          First I want to say I am not picking on Kelby's list. I admire that he's trying to collect and organize information.
          Kelby's list is a nice start but is not by any means complete and I don't think he meant it to seem to be.

          I have been trying to collect all the most cold hardy figs for 3 years and it's not an easy job as there are quite a few different sets of opinions about each variety. Danny's Delite is a good example as it has a terrible reputation with a number of folks I've spoken with yet in trying to trace down where the original bad report came from so far I've just hit dry wells. On the other hand - there are quite a few fans of Danny's Delite - including myself.

          I have a lot of figs that are considered cold hardy as the source tree is in say, a yard in Washington, DC. and therefore the variety is automatically considered cold hardy for the DC area. It's the same with the trees from Brooklyn, etc., Yet we just had two terrible winters around DC that killed a lot of trees folks deemed truly cold hardy as they had been growing without winter protection for decades.

          There is a need to define cold hardy believe it or not. Is a tree that was killed to the ground more cold hardy if it has a reputation for quickly growing back from its root mass and even producing figs that year? Or is the tree more cold hardy if it appears to have less damage but produces no figs, etc. I have seen tidbits of info about which trees have the most cold hardy wood, but no discussion on how the root mass fares. ETC. To a farmer producing figs for sale I would think cold hardiness would be tied to production and therefore a tree that gets a bit "uglied up" with frost damaged branches may be considered more cold hardy if it out produces another tree that suffered far less frost damaged but produced fewer figs. Is this tied to the cold hardiness of the roots? Or . . .?

          There are a lot of trees out there that are considered cold hardy but when I try and find the source of the cold hardy claim all I find are scattered lists of venders or collectors who label certain trees "cold hardy" without any details or sources.
          There are certainly a few trees we know are cold hardy as we have worked with them long enough to have experienced true "cold hardiness". Hardy Chicago is a good example. Where its position should be in a list of cold hardy varieties, however, is unclear.

          My point, when it finally gets down to it it this; be careful about lists of cold hardy varieties and do your research because a lot of lists in this field are filled with hearsay.

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            I agree that there are really no 'Cold Hardy' Fig cultivars only 'Hardier' or 'Healthier'. All will die back from extended exposure to cold temperatures. Even the documented 'Cold Hardy' cultivars actually regrow from die back after severe winters, including Hardy Chicago.

        • #9
          A book could be written about this. Growing figs in cold climes.

          For growing in-ground, the Mt Etnas are the top choice, in the experience of many, not least since Mt Etnas are the most likely to come back from the ground producing the most fruit.

          The knowledgeable Baud Nursery in France recommends pot culture for areas that get temperatures below about 3 degrees Fahrenheit. That's a good recommendation though it might go farther. It seems likely that for areas that get temperatures below 10 or 15 degrees, the most productive fig trees will be those grown in pots and sheltered indoors in winter, unless extreme or very careful measures are taken to protect in-ground trees.

          For growing in-ground in climes warmer than 3 degree lows, Baud recommends Rouge de Bordeaux (Pastiliere) and Ronde de Bordeaux as its two most cold tolerant varieties. Cold "hardy" or not, these are its two most early ripening cultivars (for main crop).

          Baud does not sell the Mt Etna type, apparently. Would be interesting to know why, since the Mt Etnas seem more resilient to cold. They are not quite as early to ripen as either Bordeaux. Also, the Mt Etnas' fruit is neither as shapely nor as large as the fruit of either Bordeaux. Nor as uniform of color. It's a survivor fig. By reputation it's one of the tastiest figs, though not one of the premier flavors. There is a distinction there in that difference though I'm not sure how meaningful it is to dooryard growers in cold climes. Mt Etna has a fig flavor that I greatly look forward to each year. Plus for me it's the main fig, most productive with easily one of the most preferred tastes. (Would like to see a thread on the flavor(s) of the Mt Etnas.)

          In cold climes, finding enough heat and time during growing season especially in the second half to get and keep fruit ripening is as big a problem as surviving great freezes during dormancy. So, cultivars that produce fruit early in the season (also in their lives) are highly valuable and in that sense cold handy if not hardy. As are cultivars that don't need enormous amounts of sun all day long - which often necessarily include the early ripeners. Despite being among the easiest dooryard and potted fruits to grow, figs ripen late compared to most other fruits. Baud seems keenly aware of this by recommending the earliest ripening varieties for the not so balmy majority of the French landmass.

          I grow in an Appalachian area with sub-zero Fahrenheit temperatures and had wanted to not protect fig bushes at all but now will protect low limbs of bushes with leaves or wood chips through winter. It seems effective. And more or less easy. This year I am seeing the beneficial effects of wintertime leaf and chip protected low limbs on Mt Etnas. Will know more in the future the effect on other cultivars.

          As of 2 weeks ago, for main crop, Latarulla, Improved Celeste PP, and Ronde de Bordeaux ripened here first (in pot, overwintered in garage - not counting cultivars started early indoors). I expect Florea and maybe others to ripen similarly next year. The first Mt Etnas (also potted) are ripening now. Other cultivars will follow, however a plurality or even majority of the ripe figs will be Mt Etna, and most of those will come from pots. (Of course, others in somewhat similar areas have reported good success with additional or different cultivars.)

          As for in-ground bushes, total top kill Mt Etnas and low-limb-protected Mt Etnas will ripen here first and most productively. A few other in-ground cultivars will ripen fruit this year, apparently, as occurred last year but the vast majority of ripe in-ground fruits will be Mt Etna.

          So it is that the Mt Etnas dominate in this cold clime and in many others - definitely cold handy, possibly even probably cold hardy as much or more than any other cultivar. Meanwhile, Improved Celeste, Latarulla, and Ronde de Bordeaux have proved great here too as known and proven early ripeners.
          Tony WV 6b
          https://mountainfigs.net/

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          • #10
            Here's part of the Baud chart for choosing cultivars in cold climes:
            You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 1 photos.
            Tony WV 6b
            https://mountainfigs.net/

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            • #11
              IMO, Almost any relatively healthy early to mid season cultivar can be grown in-ground successfully in colder zones as long as there is sufficient sunlight during the growing season.

              Winter protection, mulching and protection of the main branches (scaffolds or cordons) is usually all that's required for good fig production.
              Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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