Fig leaves all eventually die

Hello everyone! We’re very new to growing fruit trees, and our first year has been… a learning experience. A fig tree we have has had the leaves die in the same way, as pictured. The tree pushes out new leaves and shoots regularly, but eventually they all blacken and die. While the leaves continually regenerate, the tree has not grown much this year.

Our stone fruit have been ravaged by fungus this summer, would fig trees be similarly affected?



Figs can be hit by a number of fungal problems, including fig rust, anthracnose and rhizoctonia web blight. Fruit can sometimes be affected, too. By the end of the season, my in-ground figs start to look rough. I also get more problems with fungus-infected fruit by fall–and this sometimes seriously impacts edibility.

You can prune for openness and air circulation. If problems are severe enough, you can use copper or perhaps potassium bicarbonate or other fungicides. If you’re not already doing it, consider giving your fig a good regimen of fertilize early in the season to encourage vigor.

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Looks like a severe nutrient deficiency to me, maybe potassium (second guess phosphorus). What’s your fertilizing scheme been like? Any idea of the pH of the soil?

Thanks for the quick replies. Here is where my ignorance is really going to show.

I fertilized back in May, and it was beat into my head not to over fertilize new trees (planted in October 2019). I used something from the hardware store, I think a 3-3-3 or 6-6-6, one cup per tree.

I have all the trees on drip irrigation lines, but I’m not sure how that effects getting fertilizer to the trees. The little fertilizer beads don’t get hit by the emitters.

This year I bought this fertilizer. The nursery said it should work for any fruit tree, but I’m expecting that is too good to be true… It’s like a dirt, so I mixed it with water in a bucket and poured it around the trees. That’s The only way I could think to get it through the mulch and dirt to the roots.

Another problem we realized is that we used an auger to plant the trees. Nice deep holes with a 50/50 mix of local soil and planting mix, but only marginally larger than the root ball from the nursery. Our soil is very clay rich, so I think we probably set them up for failure.

The trees we put in this year are in big holes, 3-4 feet wide and 2-3 inches deep. Local soil tilled with expanded shale in the bottom, then a mix of local soil, “Dyno dirt” (compost and sandy soil mixed at the local dump), and a cup or two of the above fertilizer. I’m hoping that works much better.

I guess I got so focused on the fungus attacking the stone fruit that I completely forgot about fertilizing. Like I said, ignorant.

Would a nutrient deficiency allow for bright new leaves, that eventually turn black and die? The new growth at the bottom of the fig looks great, but I can already see some black spots forming

And that’s just the figs. In our zeal, we planted fig, cherry, plum, pomegranate, pear, peach, apple, blueberry, persimmon, and a weeping willow! I picked all varieties recommended by the local Ag school, but now I have to figure out the fertilizing needs of each fruit…

Here are the new leaves, starting to blacken:

It could be fungus, but that seems unlikely in Texas.

So if the leaves emerge healthy (green, free of deformities) that would make it a mobile nutrient deficiency. Generally speaking, mobile nutrients are macronutrients–so phosphorus or potassium deficiency would still fit.

That being said I can’t find anything wrong with what you did. While it’s best to rake/break up the side walls after augering, especially with heavy clay, most roots can still push through. It is possible to overfertilize with something like Espoma, but it’s more difficult than a synthetic. The only thing I can think of is back to the soil pH. A lot of soil in Texas is alkaline which could make some nutrients (especially phosphorus) unavailable. But even if that were true why isn’t your peach tree affected…

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Well I’ve probably been deficient in fertilizing, so that’s possible. I’ll test the soil for pH.

What is the best way to fertilize? I mixed the above fertilizer with water and poured that over the mulch, then hosed it to get everything washed through the mulch. The tree did not do much growing through the summer, which would also indicate poor fertilization?

The peach trees were doing great, then they got a fungus that made red spots that eventually became holes. The Daconil recommended by a local fruit tree wizard stopped it, but I didn’t realize it would take multiple applications to kill, so it came back. I’m working on that now. The nursery I got the trees from said they have been battling fungus all year in texas. I plan on using Neem oil early and often next year.

Thanks again for your help. Any and all ideas help. I don’t yet know how to care for the trees normally, let alone when things go wrong, and I haven’t found a good “annual routine” yet for the regular maintenance.