Root pruning container figs

Confession time here. I have 30+ figs in pots and most of them have never been root pruned.

I have a couple problems with the instructions for doing this that I have found on the web.

First, root pruning should be done before the plant leafs out. My figs, in a cold “putting-up” room in the basement always start leafing out before I can safely take them outside.

Second, every instruction I see online says to prune off the thickest roots directly under the stems. Problem is the smaller roots all grow off the largest roots directly below the stem, so if I prune off these thicker roots, everything else goes with them.

Third, have you ever tried to clean off a rootball without using the hose to remove as much of the soil/potting mix early enough so that the fig has not yet started pushing leaves? Not to mention that trying to use the hose before these plants start pushing leaves is nigh impossible because it’s too cold

My biggest figs are in 18-20 gal pots (3 of them). The ones I worry about are all in 5-gal buckets…btw, I have found that foam pipe insulation around the wire handles makes these buckets much easier to carry around (as the plastic “handles” break down in 1-2 seasons)

I’m done ranting and am now asking for advice…


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I haven’t tried planting footballs with my figs. That’s a new one on me. :wink: :smile:

You’re asking some good questions, though. I’ve got a couple of figs that I have to decide whether to up pot or plop in the ground some time soon.

I hate the IPad spell-check. It was auto-correcting my name to Sott for the first 6 months I had it.


When I’ve potted up figs or fruit trees I’ve just trimmed off the outer layer of soil and roots on the sides and bottom. I’ve done this with hand pruners, a shovel, an axe, or a saw; whatever works best. Just start whacking away, no washing or anything else. It’s always worked for me. And I won’t worry about a few leaves. Esp with my method there are roots in soil left on the tree.

The idea is to clean off the circling roots on the outside of the rootball.

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I see where your coming from but, Lol! The image of you swinging all those tools at a root ball strikes me funny. I can see it necessary on really large root balls though when you need an ax.

You just stated some of the reasons, why I don’t grow figs in containers.
It’s just too much work, and the more figs you have, the bigger the work load.

If you manage to kill a fig by root pruning, I’ll mail you some sort of award. They’re tough.