My chicago hardy fig

well folks. for those of you that saw my post, ive cut the roots of this fig on one side in the fall. layed it on its side. covered with 2 heavy synthetic blankets then buried it in 6ft. of snow to try and get the canes to over winter to try and get a breba crop from this fig. well yesterday, i uncovered it and all 6 canes i tested were green! i righted it back in its spot then mulched with a bunch of compost then wood chips. it survived 3 days of -40f like this. to most of you in warmer climes its not a big deal but considering what little work i put into getting this plant to survive some of the coldest temps weve seen in a very long time, gives me hope i can do this with other cold hardy figs and get at least the breba crop. ive never in my 51 yrs ever tasted a fresh fig. hopefully this summer is the 1st! got the idea of cutting roots on one side and laying the tree down from a guy doing the same in n.w Montana in the same zone as me. i think the snow was the trick as where hes at, hes had to cover with alot more things than i did as he doesnt get the snow we do here. ill post pics if i ripen any figs. when should i expect a breba crop on c.h?

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The winter isn’t really where they get hit. It’s a certain point in the transition from winter to spring. It warms up enough to get the sap going then cold hits it again. I’ve seen them die back after nice warm winters.

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I am planning to do this for the 2022 - 2023 season. I put up a low tunnel (4ish feet high) this fall that is supposed to serve as the fig “step over” house. I’ll try to come back with a photo of my set up once I get the plants installed.

Like @Robert said, I used to cover my CH fig. The timing of uncovering it has been tricky. Often, I uncovered it too early (like about now).

At first, all branches (some with tiny leaf buds) were green and healthy. They turned brown when temp suddenly dropped. It happened to me a couple of times and was very frustrating to see it survived winter only to die back due to a temp swing of early spring. In your zone, uncovering it now seems risky to me. I wish you good luck.

good to know. i guess ill be laying it back down and covering again. thanks. its still completely dormant so it shouldnt affect it much anyway. makes sense. ill keep it covered for another month until much warmer weather. no below freezing in the forecast but not very warm either.

I would cover it up. You already have a huge head start. A week or two more does not matter. Figs will ripen sooner already. Also Etna types usually drop breba so forget that crop.

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so is chicago a etna type? do you have a recommendation of a type that is cold hardy and holds onto its breba crop? id buy a few cuttings from you if you got one you think would work. i just want figs. any figs! :wink: i know this one wont ripen this summers crop before frost makes it go dormant so no use growing it if i cant get a breba crop to set.

I’ve never seen a breba crop on my Chicago hardy. Brown turkey may give a breba

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well i guess im going to have to either find a fig that ripens in my short summer or one that has a good breba crop. any suggestions? too bad as c. hardy grows very quickly here and is healthy.

You don’t need no breba crop. None of us in zone 5 get them. You’ll get a later summer crop. I’ve got a fig I’ll send that ripens a month before any Etna called Florea.

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I don’t grow for breba as the figs are not great. I do have an English brown turkey known as Olympian that produces breba every year and they are good. Main crop is late and just ripens before end of season. It would not ripen in time in your zone.

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My most productive fig for a breba crop is LaRadek EBT, which is also known to be a very cold hardy fig. I can try and put an airlayer on it for you if you’d like. I would guess the main crop may not ripen, but it is worth growing for the breba crop. Most of the others I grow that mature brebas don’t really put out a ton of breba fruit and of course I have a bunch of others that put our brebas and drop them.

Your method is actually what my mother did with a fig when I grew up (30+ years agoi) in the burbs outside of NYC. She would lay it down then cover it with a pile lf leaves and then mulch hay on top. It worked great, but I don’t remember a lot of vole or other rodent issues so I’m sure that could be a problem with such a cozy home for them.

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@steveb4 … I have notes on Olympian too… may try one in a year or two. Large fig…big producer, nice breba crop… cold hardy to 0 deg. Below some details found online.


Introduced in 2014, the Olympian Fig produces truly huge, as large as a tangerine, purple skinned fruit with a very sweet red to purple flesh. Its cold hardy breba crop can ripen as early as May and is known to withstand temperatures into the teens. The plant itself is hardy down to zero degrees once well established even though it will freeze to the ground only to return in the spring and bear a crop of fruit the following summer.

I would really like to have a fig that it takes 2 or 3 bites to eat it all… may try Olympian just for that.

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Potting them up would probably be a lot easier. You can then control the temps and maybe see some breba. Your several zones away from fig climate.

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ok. ill ask this here as you all have more experience. how cool do i need to keep a potted fig to keep it dormant? coolest i got is in my front room that stays mid 60’s in winter. garage has killed potted plants hardy to z4 so not a option. i dont have a cellar. and my shed is the same as the garage.

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thank you. i could give it a try. i just came across a video of a guy in ontario that grows his figs along the south side foundation of his house as well. he winters them the same way so it can be done. your mother was a smart woman.

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White Marseilles is hardy and is reported to crop as early as July and is available from a few online distributors. I’m getting mine in ground this year

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I keep my figs in my 55 F basement, Steve. If you don’t water “hardly at all” they’ll stay pretty dormant. They don’t need water but when 2" or so of the soil has left a gap on the sides of the rootball in the pot. I’m talking letting them go really dry. On the other hand with watering… they wake up about the first of Feb. in a basement.

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i saw that. hirts has it for $6.99 + $5.99 shipping. a few other sites recomended it also .

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+1 vote for Florea.

Really reliable and productive for colder climates.

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