Freeze, fig, and single trunk

Over in DFW, we just came through a winter with some of our lowest temps.

I have five different types of figs. ALL of my figs died back to the ground.

Out of those five figs, I’ve grown one fig (panache) as a single trunk. AND, that one fig is the only one that hasn’t started growing back from roots!!

Since I’m basically started all of my figs over, I was considering going back with a single trunk, but, now, I’m rethinking that!

Do y’all think that’s a coincidence?? Does growing a fig as a single trunk make it more susceptible to not coming back after a hard freeze?

I would think a single, thicker trunk would be better at withstanding freezing temperatures (but do not know for sure.) The fact that the tree is slower to come back could be due to the thicker diameter of the trunk (they seem to take longer to root) or that it was in a slightly worse micro-climate in your yard.

It’s too early to decide the thick won’t grow back. It probably will but it takes time to activate the tiny dormant buds on big wood. The multistem does have more buds down low to grow back. But chances are they’ll all grow back.

In west Texas they’re all multistem because they all get frozen back most yrs. I’ve got lots of single stem in my greenhouse but there’s no hope of growing one outside.


I wondered about the micro-climate also, but it was so cold for so many days, that I don’t think that a micro-climate would have made a difference!! LOL.

Hmm. Less buds – ok, that could be possible. I’m not cutting out the fig anytime soon, but just seemed strange, since my most vulnerable and least hardy fig has lots of sprouts already.

Just curious about your multi-stems that freeze back most years – do you get figs from those plants that die all the way back? Wondering if I might still get a few figs this year!

i found some thick and old branches of a fig that was heavily pruned on an allotment. The branches where trown over the fence of the allotment. But i know what tree they came from.

Im trying to root them now. How is this relevant?

They seem to be easily 10 if not 20-30 years old. Counting the year rings.

This would mean they survived our -20C (-5F) winter in 2012.
The alotment is even in a frost pocket. (between 2 high points)

So there are figs that can handle frost. And likely can be grown single stem.

Here is a picture of the year rings.

My attempted cutting.
Grafting knife on top. 2 gal pot. The wood was already quite dried out. I wrapped it in parafilm though and im hoping for the best.

PS im having a hard time counting year rings. Anyone with more fig experiance care to weigh in how old this cutting is?

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Here is a fresh cut of a container tree that has grown 4 seasons. It did seem like bands of rings were more obvious and not showing in the picture.

As far as girth, figs can put on quite a bit of size in 8 years, this trunk has survived 5 winters

Cold hardiness involves more than absolute low temperatures, damage is often caused at much warmer temperatures if the trees have not experienced increasingly cold temperatures until fully dormant. In other words, even if that tree survived one winter with that low, it doesn’t mean that it will every year, or ever again even.

At any rate, if it is productive for 8+ years in between bad winters there, it seems like a good return on investment.


aaw. it seems if overestimated the year rings. They where hard to coun’t should have considered that.

At least if learned counting year rings on figs isen’t as easy as on most tree’s.

we usualy have 1 bad winter every 10 years. -20 to -27 C in 2012. And this winter it was -14 for roughly 3-5 days at night.

Years in between are much more managable.

It surviving -14 for almost a week is good to :slight_smile:

they where a little slower to root. But the 4inch+ fig cuttings have rooted.

the white stuff was a mistake. Grabbed the wrong spray bottle and misted the cutting with DE. (was testing if DE would kill wooly aphid on a houseplant, and forgot to empty the sprayer afterwards)


Generally speaking, it is really hard to kill a multi-trunk fig trees. I think a lot of energy is stored in the crown and some thick roots.

But damage to a single trunk tree can be fatal. Maybe the stress is too much. This happens to a lot of the large fruit trees. A lot of trees got killed spring 2020 due to the late frost. It was rare occurance.

Fig is a very resilient plant. I’ll give it a summer to see if it comes back.

Redsun, I think you might be right about the multi trunk storing more energy.

We are now in prime growing season and my one and only single trunk fig STILL has not come back.

Lesson learned. I might trim to a very well-pruned multi-trunk fig, but never a SINGLE trunk.

It seems strange that fig trees in as South as in Dallas can be winter damaged. There are a lot of fig trees in zone 7 like in MD, VA areas that are not protected over winter and they would make it through the winter. I guess it is the temperature extremes vs the more stable coastal climates. Almost all those trees are trained as multi trunks. The other theory is that, multi trunks form a ring to protect the center. I give it 50% of the merit since I still do not fully understand it.

We just had the WORST winter freeze in many years, so that could have contributed to the death of this one fig. EVERY single other fig tree in my yard re-sprouted from the roots. No branches from last year made it. :frowning:

i also think the thickness of the branche can have something to do with it. Or the depth of branch vs roots. (planting deeper stores more latent buds deeper below ground for the tree to recover from.)

Multi trunks likely have more thinner trunks. And those probably handle damage better. I think the thick branch might be more susceptible to rot/fungus/disease when heavily frost damaged than a thinner trunk from a multi trunk tree.

I grow single trunk trees here, protecting them over winter. A few years ago, I had to coppice six trees after severe vole damage to the bark. All of them grew back. All produced multiple (6 or more) shoots. So a single trunk is no impediment to regrowth.

did you have to prune suckers from below ground to keep them single trunk?

I suspect the multi trunks are planted deeper. (more buds below ground, that form multiple trunks)
Where the single trunks that do not sucker might be planted shallow. And Thus have less underground buds to sucker or regrow from.

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Yes. Basically I selected one sucker to be the new central leader, then suppressed the rest.

As you may know from starting cuttings, a fig can set roots from anywhere. It’s not like other trees where there is a clear separation between the above-ground tree and the below-ground roots. So personally I doubt that depth of planting matters.

Some varieties set more suckers than others. Most suckers probably originate from the sub-soil trunk or from branch-like growth below the soil line. But I’ve seen lots of suckers pop up far enough from the trunk that I think they must originate from the roots.

i suspect planting depth matters

If you plant shallow, there is little sub soil trunk. So less stored energy and less latent buds below soil that the tree can regrow from.

If planted deep, there can be a feet or couple feet of trunk that’s buried and protected from frost the tree can grow from.

I do not think this is entirely true.

Some plants, noticeably jujube and fig, are natural sucker plants. Jujube is the worst. Some fig plants can send out suckers several inches, even a foot away from main crown. I believe those are from the tender sucker runners, not from the roots like jujube.

So tree trunk bury depth does not matter as much as you think…

Blueberry can sucker and send out offset shoots one foot away. There are other plants too. Sweet gum tree is another big sucker tree. I get thicket of those.

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i know lots of plants can sucker from roots alone. You can also take root cuttings and wait for them to sprout a bud/shoot for some species.

Fall raspberries but also st julian A come to mind.

However i still think it’s easier for a plant if there is a alive piece of trunk buried, (with multiple buds and lots of stored resources) than if everything froze to death except for a few deeper roots in the ground.