Best way to remove an unproductive fig

I have a large seven-year-old Celeste that I would like to replace with another fig. I got it from Hidden Spring, and it’s been completely unproductive in north-central Oklahoma. Robust stems with lots of healthy foliage, but very small and few fruit, if it fruits at all. I don’t fertilize much so I don’t think the cause is nitrogen overload. Grafting a better fig onto it isn’t an option because figs often die back to the ground in my area.

So, three questions:

  • How would you go about killing a large fig plant? I’m guessing cutting back and painting the stems with glyphosate would be the easiest.

  • Would you replant a better fig in the same spot? Disease-wise, this seems like a bad idea, but I’m a little limited in space.

  • Any recommendations for a tasty cold-hardy fig with a closed eye that would do well in central OK? We can have cold winters, and summers are hot and dry with the occasional torrential rain. I have a Chicago Hardy, which is just okay, and two unnamed figs that are more productive.

Does it have countless trunks from dying back or is it few trunked?

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I always remove the branches that die back, but it grows back vigorously each year. This year, I removed all but ~8 of the healthiest branches/trunks.

If you can get around the base of each trunk I would recommend girdling each. The roots will keep feeding the above ground growth, but it will stop the flow of sugar back to the roots which will exhaust and starve them. Then once the roots are dead the top will die. Allow 1-1.5 growing seasons to complete.


You can try removing the sunlight: cover the severed stump with layers of impenetrable dark poly on top of a 1-2” thick layer of cardboard. Use the plastic to keep all water from feeding the stump. It may take a couple years but should work. I killed a cherry tree that way
Kent wa


I just killed one earlier in the season. Cut everything as close to the ground as possible. Then painted the cuts with kerosene. If you don’t kill the roots it will never die.

Mine was also a celeste. I like the fig, but it was to close to the house. They are small figs and not reliable croppers for me.

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Celeste is typically prolific in good conditions, but is known to require full sun.

If this spot gets shade and you want something easy to acquire that’s a relatively known winner, grab a LSU Hollier. Great in shade, easy to find, generally productive, and does well with humidity and extreme cold. Fruity honey tasting fig.

LSU tiger needs a bit more light and is also great. Berry tasting fig.

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Thanks all! Really appreciate the ideas.

@kybishop Thanks for the fig suggestions. LSU Hollier and Tiger weren’t on my radar. Definitely will check them out! :slightly_smiling_face:

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No firsthand experience but Trabia is known for its productivity in my area. Also Improved Celeste…

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What about replanting in same spot? I’m also interested if that causes problems. It’s apparently not a good idea with apples as some rootstocks get “replant disease.”

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I didn’t see this thread before starting mine. I’m in the Dallas area and my Celeste isn’t producing anything either. Looks like I’ll be replacing it in the spring.

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I remember this from Bible class