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  • Tips on Re-potting from Already Large Container

    Hi Everyone, I'm a big time newbie here to growing fig trees, so naturally I have some newbie questions. Okay so this is my first year owning fig trees (all in pots so far). Upon purchasing my first tree (Celeste), I quickly up-potted it into a very large container. Problem is that in my excitement, I used a peat-based potting soil and mixed some play sand into it trying to create "drainage" & instead I created a large problem. Since then I've learned that I should have used Al's gritty mix to prevent the "perched water" issues and went about trying to source all the "ingredients" which was quite the ordeal! I'm sure it will be worth it though if I can just figure out how to get my tree out of the large 15+ gallon container it's already in without completely destroying the roots (not to mention the entire plant), so I can change the soil out for Al's gritty mix, and then put it back in the same pot. Tried doing a search on this topic but didn't come up with anything.

    Does anyone have any tips or tricks for getting the tree out of the container in tact? It's been in there for about 3 months now, and I'm pretty sure the roots have not filled the entire container. I've only seen minimal growth, and I believe the water-logged soil is probably a large part of the problem. I stopped fertilizing a couple weeks ago as per suggestions I read here (allow new growth to harden off in time for winter), but used Dynagro and ProteKt throughout the summer. I really think it just needs a better draining medium. So I would really appreciate all your tips, I'm kinda nervous about doing this since the container is so large to begin with and then I'm not sure how to get the old soil off the roots without destroying them.. Please Help the newbie! Lol!
    Attached Files
    My Plant Inventory: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...HZcBjcsxMwQ7iY

    Rooted Cuttings Available 2021:
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...fxsT1DuH8/edit

  • #2
    Not sure where you are located. But if you have a normal dormant season I think your safest bet at this point is to nurse the plant along with minimal watering until dormant then you can bare-root the tree safely and change your mix
    Ed
    SW PA zone 6a

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    • #3
      I agree with Ed. Otherwise tip pot on its side and gently let the soils out. Then lay shovel on top of root ball and roll the pot onto other side again gently removing more soils. Then lift tree out with shovel set aside and re fill you pot with dry mix 1/4 way up and gently holding root ball while still on shovel set tree upright in new soil then fill rest of way up. Depending on how wet root are maybe no water for a day. But start water lightly. I do tis few time and no stress to tree.
      Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
      1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy πŸ‘ΌπŸΌ.
      2) This weeks ebay auctions.

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      • #4
        I agree with Ed. You'll probably do more damage taking it out of the pot now since it isn't surrounded with roots yet. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
        Frank ~ zone 7a VA

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        • #5
          I would leave as is until spring when it is still dormant and then change out the soil
          newnandawg 7b Newnan, GA

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          • #6
            Jamie,

            Welcome to Our Figs forum community...

            I would also have to agree with Ed and wait for dormancy. I usually up-pot and re-pot during the entire season, but expect the trees to have some period of recovery from the possible stress.

            Peat based potting mixes are not inherently bad for fig cultivation, neither is adding sand. The denser mixes reduce aeration and slow overall growth of the plants. The slower growth works to your advantage if the plant has an already established main structure (main and scaffold branches), http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...-espalier-form .

            I'm an advocate of Al's 5-1-1 mix for growing fig trees, http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...ng-mix-recipes but not his Gritty Mix. Mature trees and roots may need more constant moisture than can be stored and maintained in the Gritty Mix.

            Good Luck.
            Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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            • #7
              Jaime....we were all newbies at one time.

              You really have no problems. Good advice was already given regarding the re/up-potting of your fig tree. By the way, if you haven't done so already, drill some drainage holes into the bottom of that half-wine barrel planter I have the same 25 gallon tub. HD sells them for about $20.00 and that size planter is all you need, and all you will ever need to grow a great fig tree. Every 3-4 years you will root prune your fig tree and plug it right back into the same planter that's been filled with fresh growing mix. Done. Stand back and pick the figs. Be warned, fig trees planted into this size/capacity containers are heavy. I roll my containers around on dollies. ...."Look ma, no hernias!...."

              There's plenty of posted information re: root-pruning, up-potting, winter storage of containerized fig trees that's been posted on this forum and on the Figs4Fun Forum....or, just ask here.

              Enjoy your fig tree. Happy growing.


              Frank

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              • #8
                Originally posted by AscPete View Post
                Jamie,

                Welcome to Our Figs forum community...

                I would also have to agree with Ed and wait for dormancy. I usually up-pot and re-pot during the entire season, but expect the trees to have some period of recovery from the possible stress.

                Peat based potting mixes are not inherently bad for fig cultivation, neither is adding sand. The denser mixes reduce aeration and slow overall growth of the plants. The slower growth works to your advantage if the plant has an already established main structure (main and scaffold branches), http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...-espalier-form .

                I'm an advocate of Al's 5-1-1 mix for growing fig trees, http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...ng-mix-recipes but not his Gritty Mix. Mature trees and roots may need more constant moisture than can be stored and maintained in the Gritty Mix.

                Good Luck.
                Ohhh boy, I really misread that sticky on potting mediums big time.. I thought that the gritty mix was just an alternate recommendation that was also meant for fig trees.. Doh!!! Face Palm.. Big time! I think I've scoured the universe looking for the ingredients to that gritty mix lol, but the good news is I'm sure my Banana plant will love me for it, as well as the other palms I currently have sitting in peat-based mix that doesn't drain well at all .. I think my problem is I love my plants too much.. Therefore I end up believing they need more to drink than they often do.. Sooo glad that you pointed this out to me Pete.. I was beginning to think any peat-based potting mix was a bad thing for the fig trees.. Which really limited my options! Lol! I definitely appreciate that you caught that I was misunderstanding the recommendations and cleared that up for me.

                As far as the pruning goes, I have read through your very informative sticky on pruning many times and I know this Celeste in particular needs help big time but I'm not sure where to begin. I've got 3 relatively thick main trunks all growing out of a very small area, so it's difficult for me to figure out how to deal with that one.. I think this particular tree may be a tissue culture from what I have read so far.. But again, I'm really new to growing fig trees..

                Thank you all for the warm welcome and the great advice! I will certainly wait until spring to do this soil change, as I can see where this Re-pot at this this could cause unnecessary stress on the tree. I'm sure I will have lots of questions in the future, and I'm really grateful for all of your insight, tips, and advice
                My Plant Inventory: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...HZcBjcsxMwQ7iY

                Rooted Cuttings Available 2021:
                https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...fxsT1DuH8/edit

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                • #9
                  Just to muddy the water can you share a few pictures with us?

                  Figster
                  Ian

                  Really happy with what I have.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by The Figster View Post
                    Just to muddy the water can you share a few pictures with us?

                    Figster
                    Absolutely! I love muddy water! Haha! As soon as I get home this evening I will definitely post a few pics.. Harp is a real doozy.. (Yes I've named all my fig trees lol, is that completely weird or what? Haha!) and the tree seems to want to grow horizontally (side branching) and make a thousand leaves but no sign of figs in the making that I can tell. I would be eternally grateful for advice on pruning this little tree because.... Well.. You'll see what I mean when I get those pics up later on this evening
                    Attached Files
                    My Plant Inventory: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...HZcBjcsxMwQ7iY

                    Rooted Cuttings Available 2021:
                    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...fxsT1DuH8/edit

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      how big was the previous container?
                      Littleton, CO (zone 5b) - In Containers
                      N.E. of Austin, TX (zone 8b)- In Ground.

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                      • #12
                        Jamie,
                        Thanks for sharing the additional photos.
                        IMO that's not a Celeste fig tree, it may be a Brown Turkey (California).

                        As far as pruning, for a Bush form I would cut back on all the branches and and train an outward facing bud or branch from each existing main as an upright branch. If a tree form (single main stem) is desired then the largest main stem would be staked and trained upright while the other stems are removed as close to the main trunk as possible. In either case all the growing tips would be removed, leaving only the 2 nodes closest to the main trunks, to remove the growth inhibiting auxins, but that would be for next season. Good Luck.

                        Click image for larger version

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                        Note the new limbs should be staked and trained upright.
                        Last edited by AscPete; 08-26-2015, 01:32 AM. Reason: added edited photos and caption
                        Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by AscPete View Post
                          Jamie,
                          Thanks for sharing the additional photos.
                          IMO that's not a Celeste fig tree, it may be a Brown Turkey (California).

                          As far as pruning, for a Bush form I would cut back on all the branches and and train an outward facing bud or branch from each existing main as an upright branch. If a tree form (single main stem) is desired then the largest main stem would be staked and trained upright while the other stems are removed as close to the main trunk as possible. In either case all the growing tips would be removed, leaving only the 2 nodes closest to the main trunks, to remove the growth inhibiting auxins, but that would be for next season. Good Luck.

                          [ATTACH=CONFIG]n37086[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]n37087[/ATTACH]
                          Note the new limbs should be staked and trained upright.
                          Thank you SOOO much again Pete! A picture (or two in this case) is definitely worth a thousand words.. Especially to a newbie who is not quite positive on what a fruiting branch is 😳 lol, you took all the guess work out and now I know for sure what to do with this tree.. I will definitely go for the bush form, since I live in Northeastern PA. One day I'd like to put Harp into the ground.. So that would probably be wise considering I'm in Zone 6A.
                          So in your opinion it seems I've been Brown Turkey'd on this particular plant?? I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case.. The place this plant originated from (according to the tag) was "Freedom Farms" in Tennesee.. Not sure if it is known here on this forum as being reputable or not but I don't think I'd buy from them again personally..
                          Again thanks a bunch! One last question.. So you would advise that I wait to do this until next spring? Would anytime between late fall and early spring be ok? I only ask b/c it may be easier to store if I prune right as I'm lugging the tree in for winter storage (November time frame).
                          My Plant Inventory: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...HZcBjcsxMwQ7iY

                          Rooted Cuttings Available 2021:
                          https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...fxsT1DuH8/edit

                          Comment


                          • AscPete
                            AscPete commented
                            Editing a comment
                            You're welcome.
                            The tree can be pruned after it goes dormant in late fall but the pruned ends should be sealed with pruning sealer to prevent dessication, its not recommended by horticulturalists, but works in practice. The pruned cuts should be 1 or 2 nodes longer that the final desired cut for die back and can be 'trimmed' back after the new buds and branches have started to grow. The pruned cuttings could be used to practice rooting.

                        • #14
                          Originally posted by Bijan View Post
                          how big was the previous container?

                          Bijan this is the same container I had the tree in (half wine barrel, maybe 15 gal I'm guessing?). I decided to wait until next Spring to up-pot (or maybe even try in ground) in order not to stress the tree too much (based on the great advice I received here 😁). Plus I was about to change out the medium to a "gritty mix" but since learned (thanks again Pete!) that this would not be a good idea since fig trees really need access to more water than the "gritty mix" medium would provide. I did gently slide the rootball out to inspect the roots and I was shocked at how full this container is already with roots! You'd never know by looking at the growth above ground though!
                          My Plant Inventory: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...HZcBjcsxMwQ7iY

                          Rooted Cuttings Available 2021:
                          https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...fxsT1DuH8/edit

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            I'm not sure you gain much by pruning the top this fall vs. next spring. Either way, I'd leave the tree in the current container for at least another year. You mentioned the roots are growing well in the container, there should be no rush to change it. Your tree has invested in root growth this year at the expense of top growth. Next year, the investment will pay off with top growth. Disturbing the roots next year will just be another set back for top growth... a double set back if you are pruning the top, as well. I would not recommend pruning roots and limbs in the same year.

                            If you are concerned about the water table, you can always insert a wick into a drain hole and set the container in the yard. You will tie your tree into a much larger system for moving water.
                            Littleton, CO (zone 5b) - In Containers
                            N.E. of Austin, TX (zone 8b)- In Ground.

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                            • #16
                              It's a tough decision, I definitely see your point too Bijan. I didn't intend on doing any root pruning just yet, as I'm still trying to figure out the whole above ground pruning deal lol.. I've only had this tree since early summer, so it was recently up-potted from the 5 gallon pot I purchased it in 3 months ago. It seems that I misread the sticky on which soil mixes were best for fig trees, so that's why I was thinking of changing out all the soil for Al's gritty mix instead.. THANKFULLY lol, I inquired about some tips on doing so beforehand and got some good advice from everyone here. So I won't be changing the soil lol, definitely going to leave well enough alone there.. Especially since the roots did so well this summer. As for the pruning.. The tree is just a little crazy. The tips on all of the main trunks were previously pruned so now I've got short thick main trunks and lots of new long horizontal growing branches growing everywhere. Also I noticed there is a large amount of space between the nodes on the main trunks, probably 2 inches at least? I'm not positive but I think I remember reading that this denotes slow growth? At any rate, I'd like it to eventually start making some figs for me lol, so I'd like to get it on the way to doing that soon as possible. I like the idea of the wick.. I may just go ahead and add a wick to all of my potted figs. Where do you find a wick for this purpose?
                              My Plant Inventory: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...HZcBjcsxMwQ7iY

                              Rooted Cuttings Available 2021:
                              https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...fxsT1DuH8/edit

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                              • AscPete
                                AscPete commented
                                Editing a comment
                                Pruning will increase productivity by decreasing excessive vegetative growth. Increased nodal spacing is faster growth, decreased nodal spacing is slower growth and IMO, increased nodal spacing in the main trunks and scaffold branches should be the goal for the first few years. If pruned to the diagrams the resulting branches should produce figs next season, and will be the 'scaffold branches' the following year.

                                Pellon Thermolam TP970 is material that's been used as 'wicks' successfully in SIPs its usually available at Walmart, Fabric and Craft stores, its ~ $6.00 per yard (@ 45 inches wide).

                              • Jamie0507
                                Jamie0507 commented
                                Editing a comment
                                Okay so I got the nodal space thing backwards too.. Geez I definitely need all the help I can get! Lol! Well at least I'm learning a whole bunch of interesting things.. I'm definitely in the right place for that That was my thought too for wanting to get this tree pruned nicely.. It seems there is excessive vegetative growth going on right now and I would very much like to get those scaffold branches going.. And of course the sooner I get to taste my first fresh fig ever, the better! Thanks again Pete!

                            • #17
                              There is not really a "best"... growing in containers is a series of compromises. In the end, everybody needs to find out what works for them and their trees. I remember Al saying that strands from rayon (not cotton) mop heads will do the trick.
                              Littleton, CO (zone 5b) - In Containers
                              N.E. of Austin, TX (zone 8b)- In Ground.

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                              • #18
                                Photos of an older fig tree that was pruned back (2 nodes) from the main trunk in May to establish the new scaffold branches which are fruiting branches this season and will be the permanent scaffold branches next season. The potted fig tree is being pruned and trained as a tree form.
                                You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 4 photos.
                                Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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                                • Jamie0507
                                  Jamie0507 commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  What great pics! I can see exactly what you're saying, down to the node! Wow this makes me feel pretty good about what my tree could look like in just one season! Very motivating.. Thanks Pete!

                              • #19
                                Originally posted by Bijan View Post
                                There is not really a "best"... growing in containers is a series of compromises. In the end, everybody needs to find out what works for them and their trees. I remember Al saying that strands from rayon (not cotton) mop heads will do the trick.
                                Wow rayon mop strings you say? Thanks a bunch, that sounds easy enough to find! Definitely adding that one to my shopping list

                                I think I'm beginning to see exactly what you mean Bijan.. I do want to do whatever I can to better the odds for my little crazy fig tree.. But I know what works for some in some areas, may not work for others In different areas.. Alas.. If I only lived in a Mediterranean climate I could forget the containers entirely! Lol.. until then though I'll have to figure out a little at a time what works best for me and my trees here in arctic northeastern PA.. Hehe.. Okay it's not arctic, but it sure can feel that way at times
                                My Plant Inventory: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...HZcBjcsxMwQ7iY

                                Rooted Cuttings Available 2021:
                                https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...fxsT1DuH8/edit

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