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  • Vigorous Fig Tree Suggestions from Southwest Growers

    I am looking for suggestions for vigorous fig trees that do well in the Southwest.

    Situation:

    I am running out of space in my yard. I have a bunch of other fruit trees besides figs. Yet my love of figs (now bordering on obsession) continues to grow. I have lots of varieties that I want to experiment with but I simply don't have the space to grow new trees from cuttings and allow them all to come to maturity.

    So my solution is to graft on many varieties onto a few trees to increase my varieties without taking up the space of a whole fig orchard. I have already made my own multi-grafted citrus trees and mango trees and stone fruits with the same intention. And I have seen the posts of the Frankenfig, so I know it is quite possible to accomplish what I intend.

    Question for the community:

    What is a good fig that will grow vigorously for the following conditions:
    - High heat (must grow well in 115 F AZ summers)
    - High pH soil and water (typical in Southwest - AZ, NV, CA and TX)
    - Cold tolerance is not a concern (I live in zone 9b)
    - Fig production / flavor is not a concern (I am growing this as a rootstock)

    Please weigh in an let me know what trees you think will fit this bill. Thanks!
    Location: USDA Zone 9b / Sunset 13. Chandler, AZ

  • #2
    To be honest....everything grows fast in Arizona. I have a multi grafted fig tree on a Black Mission root stock....the thing about grafting is that some varieties out grow others...so take note of growth habits of what you graft on. Everything grows to about 4 feet in a year in our weather.....except for the known slow grower like Black Madeira(which will grow 3 feet a year). I think you'll be fine with whatever you choose....but in my opinion choose a root stock that has a "tree like" behavior like Improved Brown Turkey or Black Mission.
    Quy
    SoCal, Zone 9b

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    • #3
      Quy, I mostly agree. For Example, my Black Jack and Ischia have grown like crazy over the summer. My Panache has grown well (but not as well as the other two). But my VdB, while healthy and taking the heat like a champ, certainly cannot be categorized as vigorous. So in the absence of other suggestions, I would probably use Black Jack as a rootstock. But glad to hear that Black Mission is doing well for you!

      That is a very good point about matching growth rates. I will definitely try to match that up as much as possible (slower growers on SouthEast sides of trees, more vigorous growers on NorthWest).

      I like the suggestion about tree like cultivars. Thanks for the feedback!
      Location: USDA Zone 9b / Sunset 13. Chandler, AZ

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      • #4
        I wish I could help you, since I'm in the Southwest, but the few fig trees I've planted in the ground are struggling, and one died. All the fig trees in pots are thriving, -most growing as big as tomato plants their first year. There is one full sized unknown fig tree in back that produces boring figs. It has a number of suckers that would make good rootstock as well as a number of seedlings from it growing in weird locations that I could send you. But you're sure to do better than that.
        Mara, Southern California,
        Climate Zone: 1990=9b 2012= 10a 2020=?

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        • starch
          starch commented
          Editing a comment
          Originally posted by Altadena Mara View Post
          I wish I could help you, since I'm in the Southwest, but the few fig trees I've planted in the ground are struggling, and one died. All the fig trees in pots are thriving, -most growing as big as tomato plants their first year.
          That is really unfortunate. All my current fig trees are in pots too and like you, they are all growing great! (My older 3-4 yr old trees are in 25 gal pots and really happy). But I would have thought planting them in the ground would be fine. I was under the impression that figs are not too picky about soil types. But with my subtropicals (mangos, sapotes, jaboticaba, lychee, etc.) they really want more acidic and lighter soil than I have in my yard (I have typical Phoenix heavy clay high pH soil) so I had to really dig out and expand my planting holes and amend them with compost, sand, lower pH soil, composted mulch, etc. to lower pH and increase drainage. I wasn't thinking I would have to do that with a fig tree (e.g. I planted my citrus and pomegranates right in the native soil), but maybe I should?

          Originally posted by Altadena Mara View Post
          There is one full sized unknown fig tree in back that produces boring figs. It has a number of suckers that would make good rootstock as well as a number of seedlings from it growing in weird locations that I could send you. But you're sure to do better than that.
          Thanks for the offer! But yeah, I will probably go with a Black Mission or something like that like Quy suggested above. Thanks!

      • #5
        Mission is a good choice and I've seen several do well in the Phoenix valley. (I have a winter home there).
        You might try FrozenJoe over at figs4fun. He's in Phoenix and has several video's posted on growing figs in Phoenix

        John Z5 Wish list:

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        • #6
          That's two for Mission. Thanks for the suggestions!
          Location: USDA Zone 9b / Sunset 13. Chandler, AZ

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          • #7
            Near Dallas, TX my Black Mission grew 5 ft or so last year, froze to the ground, and now is back to 3-4 feet so far with just a slightly below average irrigation this year.

            The VdB, Celeste, Tx Everbearing just did so-so.
            Wish List : Cold Hardy/Prolific bearers - Letizia , Florea, G. Paradiso, Lattarula, any Sals varieties, Negronne, Navid's Unk. Dark Greek, Bass' Fav.

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            • #8
              3 for Mission. Thanks!
              Location: USDA Zone 9b / Sunset 13. Chandler, AZ

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              • #9
                Pulled the trigger on Black Mission. Went to Home Depot and picked up a Black Mission (Dave Wilson) for $22. Beautiful 6 foot tall tree at ~5/8" caliper with some nice branching (perfect grafting locations for the spring). Thanks to all for the suggestions!
                Last edited by starch; 11-17-2015, 10:19 PM.
                Location: USDA Zone 9b / Sunset 13. Chandler, AZ

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                • #10
                  You wont be disappointed...it'll grow great. I started grafting end of January. I did a cleft graft wrapped tight with green tape and wrapped the whole thing in parafilm tape. I did 7 grafts last year and all of them took. 4 on one black mission and 3 on a brown turkey.
                  Quy
                  SoCal, Zone 9b

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                  • #11
                    That is awesome Q*! Thanks!
                    Location: USDA Zone 9b / Sunset 13. Chandler, AZ

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