Z5 and colder - @ what sustained temps do you bring in your container trees?

First year with container trees (except a fig), and don’t want to kill them (if I haven’t already):

At what sustained temps should I move these trees to shelter in a cool garage?

  • Drippin’ Honey Pear on OHxF87
  • Harrow Sweet Pear on OHxF87
  • White Gold Cherry on Gisela 5
  • Chicago Hardy Fix on Unknown

They are in 30 gallon soft pots. Supposed to get to 10 tomorrow… it’s already been down to 20.

@Drew51 @warmwxrules - I think you are in cold country and may have some containers, so value your input


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I would like to know this myself. My reading has led me to believe that temperatures of soil below 40F lead to dormancy of roots, whereas temperatures above 40F lead to root growth. Also theories that potted things are 1 zone colder than things in ground. The whole theory of planting things in Fall/Autumn is hinged on the soil temperature as far as i understand it.

I believe it’s 2 zones not one.
The stone fruit should be fine outside. I would protect once below zero. (although it’s way overkill). Hardy to at least -15.
The fig is best at no colder than 25 degrees F. It can probably take till 20 degrees, but to be safe, keep at 25. Mine have been at 25 before (many times), no problem with it.


Chicago hardy must come in below 15F.

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I have over 70 figs and not all are hardy. I lost one this year to a frost. It was growing. On the other hand it only set MT Etna’s back a week. It was a good one Cessac. Hope to try again with cuttings. I do though want to eliminate many that don’t work well. Ideally I would like maybe 20 fig trees. It’s going to be tough to get there! So I go with 25F as even the least hardiest can withstand that if dormant.

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I’d bring in fig below 20 F, though I’m pretty sure it would survive down to 5-10 F. There’s no benefit to more exposure to cold.


Mine are still out and Friday we hit 19, hope you all are right about the temps as no way will I have them all in. I started though. I had to stop and do some house repairs, tomorrow I’ll get most in but not all.

Hi all and Drew,

Thanks so much for the valuable information! Drew, really great to hear about stone fruit, as these would take up a lot of space in the garage! I thought I had remembered seeing some winter pictures of your containers outside.

They are currently sitting on concrete driveway. Is there any value to having them sit on earthen ground instead of the driveway through the winter?

My other question for you all was triggered by the fig discussion. At the end of the season, when an early cold snap comes or frost is projected, and the container trees haven’t fully lost their leaves - when do they need to be protected or come in (for both stone fruit and figs)?

Thanks, all!

Thanks - on the temps, are you referring specifically to chicago hardy? On your comment about cold benefits, are you just saying no need for chilling hours?

All of them. Chicago Hardy is not especially hardy and the minor differences among varieties are a distraction. Treat them all the same.

There’s no chill requirement, as such. Think about the fig tree growing in Sicily or the Azores.


My area has been in the 30s regularly and had a few snows this week. Supposed to be in the single digits tonight. My apple trees still have leaves on them. Most of the other trees have dropped theirs but for whatever reason my apples are retaining theirs.

I’m in the colorado front range, and have the same situation and forecast. Everything lost its leaves, except the old standard apple that still has a bunch of green. Not sure how they respond to the upcoming cold weather, when not fully shutdown.

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Fig roots are totally fine until 15 F, but risk death any lower (note that in-ground figs keep their roots warmer than this since the ground itself maintains more constant temperatures). Lignified wood can go to at least 15 F, some varieties even as low as 0 F.

I’m keeping my figs outside until I see nights either regularly dipping to 19 F, or forecast of a single spike any lower than that.


Interesting… I would think the ground here in the denver area wouldn’t get much below 15, as our sun is pretty intense in the winter. Maybe a test this winter. They don’t seem to be able to make it in-ground here, but perhaps that is more related to the late cold snaps in the spring.

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5b is quite cold for figs. You might be able to get away with an inground michurinska-10, but even then you’d probably need to cut and cover every winter since the branches almost certainly won’t make it.

I leave my (potted) figs out until the leaves naturally drop.

I did make an exception this year as I had one that as of last night still had 5-6 good leaves on it. I wanted to finish bringing in plants for the fall and popped off the leaves and brought it in…

Scott ( I am in 6b, though)

One risk is freezing and consequent cracking of branches when temperatures drop before the fig has had a chance to dry out its tissues. This is more likely to be a problem with in-ground trees but can also afflict potted trees that have been watered / rained on late in the season. I’d worry about any tree that still has leaves when temps drop to the mid-20s or below.

These afflicted trees won’t die outright but the bark will crack and the circulatory system will be damaged. Next year the tree will look like it has a bad case of FMV.

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