Who is getting good crops from in-ground figs in z7a?


I’m more just shuffling around varieties, I had too little light in the back yard for peaches so I’m bringing some of my favorites back there to the front. I ordered one new one, Rick Landt from Fruitwood. I am looking for a late peach and would like to try that one. But maybe if I take out all of my figs I might be able to fit one or two more :grin:

@Naeem, one problem with covering them is they don’t die back and the trunks get thicker and thicker every year so you can’t easily prune them to 1-2’ tall. I had 4" diameter trunks on some of my figs I was covering. There isn’t much difference there between the ground and 1-2’ up from the ground with such a big trunk, there are no smaller shoots. It might be possible to train them very low with extensive summer pruning, something like a stepover apple tree. I never tried that…


Stepover is the traditional method in Japan. The annual growth most likely requires support and it is a long season method. I’ve never tried either.


Would it be a bad idea to combine say one foot of mulch at base of fig plus aluminum bubble wrap tent that is pegged to the ground? Could that rot the fig bark? Or would the mulch interfere with the ground temps keeping the tent warmed a bit?


I doubt it would matter much either way… the main thing is peg the tent to the ground to trap the air from the ground.


( " who is getting good crops from in ground Figs in z 7a ? ")

Well Yes ? / and no .?
To be clear, I think I am in 6b
But yes, many years I get good ( ? ) crops.
Certainly worth having around.
From manly one variety , I have named cannon ball.
Link here-

In general over the last 10 yrs~ it has often produced good crops .
In ground , outside , no protection.
Especially after those mild winters.
When it gets down to around the single digits it may freeze to the ground.
Still it will produce some Figs that year, more if the shoots are thinned. And tops pinched, fruit thinned early so that the remaining Figs ripen
This is as stated in the link above a mount Ettna type , may be hardy Chicago , was found at the 3rd oldest house in Charlestown Wv.
What makes me think it is not hardy Chicago , is that I had some small 1 yr plants of C.B. and some H.C. In pots side by side ,barely covered with mulch last winter . HC froze , died, --CB lived.
I am at about 1000 ft. Elevation hill top ,defiantly warmer than the valley below.
Usually I don’t cover /protect, but may start.
In fact I put a row in my high tunnel. And have them trained like the Japanese system just last year . Laying flat , covered with row covers and card board. This coming year will be the first real test of this.
I have the cordons established and Side Spurs This method looks to be the way to go. So easy to cover.!
Going to do another planting out side in ground like this soon.

Yes, good crops of in ground Figs , most years
Defiantly worth keeping around


The wider the cover the more heat it will trap, if there is an unmulched area it could offset any reduced radiation from the mulched area, especially if it is bare soil. That’s one good reason to protect rows instead of individual trees, more area covered.


You should do OK in a high tunnel. One nice thing about vigorous shoots and suckers is the figs split less. One thing to watch out for is Etna types can get surface mold in the greenhouse here, thin skins.


Years ago I covered some Figs .
The mice ( voles ? ) ate all the bark and many roots …
Since then i have been reluctant to cover.
Bass told me about putting moth balls around the base of the plant in the mulch to deter rodents. So that is what I have done this year in the high tunnel on the ones layed down Japanese style and covered.
Has anyone used moth balls? Or what other methods of deterrent do you use ?


I wait as long as possible to cover them (~20 f. forecast), hopefully the voles have settled in elsewhere by then. When using black ground cover the first year is the worst, then as it settles and the perennials die off in later years they are less likely to live under there. Voles are pretty easy to get with mouse snap traps if you can find their runs/burrows. Just set the trap in their path and they will walk over it, models with the big cheese shaped trigger plate work well, and a big nail driven through the trap and stuck in the ground will deliver more force.


Scott, here in 6B I have 2 Chicago Hardy planted 1 foot from my concrete foundation on the South side of my house. It’s been 8 years now and I’ve only had substantial die back 1 Winter but it came back strong from the roots and cropped fair anyway. I wrapped clumsily the first year but back surgery limited me a few years so I’ve just dumped a foot of bark mulch on the bases each Fall and raked it back in Spring. They give decent crops and I keep them right around 8 feet so Winter winds don’t burn the top. That close to the foundation they get less water in the Winter, I’m starting to believe that helps, staying moist but seldom soaking wet. I’m lucky so far with no vole/mouse/pest issues so lower bark is always intact.


Not sure I understand the part about reduced radiation, please explain a bit more. Are you saying bare soil under the tent is a bad idea? Thanks


OK thats more what I wanted to hear! I don’t think your figs are any more hardy than mine are but the top pinching and fruit thinning may be helping to get the crop in early. I had many figs on my plants when things froze this fall. They were just starting to ripen, I got a couple. I did thin the shoots in the spring after they came up, I removed 3/4ths of them, but I didn’t do any top pinching or fruit thinning.

@Poorwolf I used to have my figs in the same kind of spot by the foundation and they did a lot better there. I had to move them do to some construction we did on the house though. I had some blackberries right by the house last winter, and they still had leaves on them in the spring! It shows how much help a warm foundation can be, it’s a heater. Maybe I will move one of my figs back by the house. I don’t have the spot I used to anymore but there is one other spot I could cram one fig plant.


I avoided that by putting lots and lots of ground staples in. Have at least 6" of the cover all against the ground and put ground staples on it, plus rocks, bricks, etc. One year I got sloppy, a cover blew off midwinter and I didn’t do the best job putting it back and I got some munches.


@scottfsmith Good info. Did you need to split the bottom of the tent at a few points to get six inches of it to lay flat on the ground? Maybe if I can shape it as a round cylinder that won’t be necessary. Am going to do this tomorrow.


Reading about all these efforts and hardships… Would you consider relocating to a better climate instead?


I didn’t split it, I had some folds in the cover on the ground (which I pinned down extra good).

@Stan yes the climate is rough here, but my house is still standing :laughing: My in-laws are just starting their re-build in Santa Rosa.


Yes, it’s a valid point. Have to stay a good distance away from faults and woods here in Cal.


(" Reading about all these efforts and hardships… Would you consider relocating to a better climate instead? ")

Yes . ?
I concsider this often.
I Can not abandoned the land and plants that I have such a bond with here.
Every place has its advantages / disadvantages …
This is my sweet spot.!
A LOT of time envested here.
Long vacations are one option.
You can only take so many plants as carry on , I don’t like checking bags…
Always good to get home , and get a hug… From my trees…


The ground will give off heat which the cover will trap, mulch and turf insulate so they reduce the amount of warmth that passes to the air. Bare soil gives off the most heat, so in theory will work the best to keep the air under the cover warm.


A couple general rules I’ve observed growing figs in Z7A near Philly:

  1. Variety selection is your first concern. You’re looking for hardiness, earliness and even rain resistance in the northeast/mid Atlantic. A Hardy Chicago heirloom is probably your best bet.
  2. Figs need the sunniest/warmest/driest spot that you can give them.
  3. Less water = less vigor = more fruit & fully hardened wood by late November.
  4. Thinning new branches at bud break is critical.
  5. Pinching is a requirement. Most fig growers in the area will start June 1st or the earliest you can. Pay attention to the nodes above the leaf stem. If you see two small white or red dots, it’s go time (one is a new branch, the other a fig). That’ll give you fruits from most varieties by September 1st & even by August 15th for the very early varieties.

Planting tips:
Most of mine are all around the south and west side of the house (or at least protected from one side). Others out in the open are especially planted in 1-2 ft high mounds to lessen water intake and increase soil temperatures. I also place as many rocks/boulders around the base that I can. Black plastic is another alternative. Any nearby thermal mass will be great in the winter, but all this extra heat you’re providing goes a long way during the growing season because in the event that your tree does get killed to the ground, you can really jump start the tree back into gear by making things happen much quicker in the spring.

Winter protection:
It is said that Hanc Mathies in Long Island used Wilt Pruf to prevent desiccation. He applied 3 coats each year and never lost a tree. Take that as you will. I believe there’s some good truth to the wind & freeze/thaw cycles being a bigger issue than the cold. I am experimenting with his method this winter.

Other than that I am relying entirely on genetics and thermal mass.