The previous winter I had all my figs and nearly all my poms die back to the ground. This winter also looks like it was pretty harsh on the figs, all the wood is snapping that I tested. The poms have green wood now, but I have had problems in past years that the buds all died on some varieties in spite of having green wood. My low was 2F and we had many weeks of harsh weather. BTW I am talking about outside, unprotected plants only. I may start protecting again if this keeps up, I still have my old covers stashed somewhere.
The temp got down to -11F last winter and several times below zero. All the figs died to the ground but the trunks below the soil showed green.
I'm in middle TN, so not exactly "northern", but my figs and poms kept dying back every winter. Even the supposed "cold hardy" poms. Early this winter I dug them up, put them in pots, and over wintered them in my green house. All but the Violette du Bordeaux survived and are putting out new growth. I think I got the VdB out of the ground a little late, but I expect new growth from the base. The Celeste fig and three varieties of Russian poms look great. Maybe now one day I'll actually get fruit.
Our figs freeze back every winter even the yr I wrapped super well. That's zone 7b going on 8a. This winter I laid the plants down inches from the soil and covered with 8 layers frost blanket. When below 20F covered with reflextic insulation and 6 inches mulch. They survived under that but it's not worth the trouble given I have a greenhouse.
I've never really protected figs before. Until these last two winters I had only lost top growth on newly planted figs, but by the second year my figs always made it through fine except for sometimes losing the breba crop, which wasn't a big deal.
I think I would like to protect a small percentage of my figs this next winter just to hedge my bets. What would you all recommend for a marginal zone like mine, one where figs mostly have made it through the winter without any protection at all? I'm reluctant to prune really hard just for the sake of protection when I might not need to protect them at all, but maybe that's just part of hedging my bets.
I have thought about getting a bunch of Christmas lights and plugging them in on the coldest nights.
Took a 1 ft fig (I think it's Brown Turkey) that I rooted last summer and covered it with a Styrofoam cover I got from home depot. Surrounded that with about 8 inches of dense leaves than put a back plastic pot over that because my wife didn't like looking at the white styrofoam. We had temperatures down to 0 F but also had 1 to 2 feet of snow on the ground continuously for almost 8 weeks. The snow finally gone last week.
Result - that little fig cutting looks OK. I expect it to start leafing out in the next 10 days. I may try something similar next year with as that little fig tree grows. If I do I'll take a picture.
Here is an old picture of one of my fig coverings:
This is aluminum bubble wrap insulation stapled together to make a tent. It is held to the ground with ground staples. These covers might work for as low as -10F, I got zero damage at -2F. Key to covering is go all the way the the ground to trap the warmth coming up from the soil. The rope around the outside keeps it from blowing off.
Scott, a lot of work. it is much easier to lay all the branches down and cover it up, I think.
I tried that on one fig once and gave up. Maybe on a young fig that could work but I couldn't get the thick trunks to bend. I then tried digging out the dirt on one side to bend at the roots and after struggling for awhile I gave up.
This past winter in my backyard z7a:
Black Mission (with protecion)-- Appears to have survived; I think the tip buds are swelling slightly.
At my mountain orchard z6b:
Hardy Chicago (with protection)-- Appears alive but not sure yet.
Celestial aka Celeste (with protection)-- Possible die back, but I see a new green sprout at the base.
Everything was planted last spring.
I need to revise my report on Black Mission as "too close to call." We had a late freeze and it has stopped greening. It might be suffering die back, could be completely dead, or might just be slowed down. Will keep an eye on it...
Uncovered my in ground Hardy Chicago, some branches show damage on the tip, most branch are still green although they are looking lifeless now. Potted fig has breba about small marble size.
My figs still look rough. Celeste is the only one showing signs of life yet (tiny sprout at the base).
Folks-- It's almost May! Are your figs re-sprouting? Updates?
Min are about 1/2 " at the base also. I will give them some Urea Nitrogen today to give them a jump start. Just remember to pinch off the tip every 4 or 5 leaf to induce early fruiting.
I have a majority starting to sprout from the base, a few are still not there yet though.
Zone 7 eastern shore Md Brown Turkey dead to the ground last two winters. No sign of life at all now. Just discovered a six year old apple had a vertical split in trunk at base like it had frozen, dead as a doornail, that's a new one for me.
A Brown Turkey cutting that I put in ground last fall finally has green buds. A cutting potted up and kept in the garage and then a green house in the spring has had leaves for 30 days.
I also found some vertical splitting. A pomegranate with a 3" trunk was split for about a foot.
So far all my poms are coming back from roots except for Parfianka, Austin, and Angel Red. They might be dead. All of the figs are coming back from roots. One muscadine, Tara, is coming back from roots and all the others came through unscathed.
My Black Mission (z7a backyard; protected) still looks dead as a doornail.
Celestial aka Celeste (z6b; mountain property; protected) is still growing back from the roots.
The good news is that I see a new bud forming from the base of my Hardy Chicago (z6b; mountain property; protected) which heretofore I had feared completely dead. Yay!