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Hardy Chicago Fig Tree Care

Can A Fig Tree Survive Indoors

Roberta’s 1-Piece Chicago Hardy Fig Tree on QVC

Can you grow a fig tree indoors? The short answer is no. Heres why you wouldnt want to: The edible fig needs full sun in the summer, which is almost impossible to get indoors. In autumn, the deciduous fig tree loses its leaves and goes into dormancy for the winter, when it doesnt need any sun at all.

Growing Hardy Figs In Ohio

The fig has been grown as a fruit crop for many centuries and is even considered an ancient fruit . Many people all over the world have enjoyed the edible fig with Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Iran, Algeria, Greece, Syria, the United States, Spain, and Tunisia topping the list of fig-producing nations .

Figure 1. Fresh Brown Turkey figs from trials at OSU South Centers near Piketon, Ohio are delightful to eat. Photo by Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

While it is encouraging to see fresh figs available for sale at some grocery stores in the United States, Americans are more familiar with fig cookie than fresh figs. In the United States, fig production is concentrated in California since most edible fig cultivars are not cold hardy and can be killed to the ground when temperatures are 20°F or below.

In an effort to test how hardy figs will perform in Ohio, two demonstration plantings of several hardy fig cultivars were installed at The Ohio State University South Centers near Piketon, Ohio as part of a 2017 Specialty Crop Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The information presented in this fact sheet summarizes the data collected from those plantings from 2017 to 2020. When considering a commercial fig planting in Ohio, you should exercise caution, since this study was short-term and a comprehensive marketing study was not performed.

Will Potted Trees Survive The Winter

Unfortunately, containerized plants often experience severe winter injury and often death if unprotected. In containers, the roots of the plants are exposed to below-freezing temperatures on all sides. As temperatures fluctuate, the soil thaws and refreezes causing the plant to heave out of the soil.

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How To Wrap A Fig Tree To Protect It For The Winter

The fig has long been a favorite Brooklyn garden tree, especially beloved by Italian families who immigrated to the borough in the early 20th century. Native to the Mediterranean, figs are marginally hardy here and may not survive winter in New York City unless they are protected. can help figs survive most winters without extra care, wrapping them in layers of burlap and fallen leaves in late autumn or early winter will keep them from dying back too severely during a cold winter.

After BBG’s fig trees suffered complete dieback to the ground two winters in a row a while back, we began using this technique for the specimens in the Herb Garden, with good results for the past few years. Home gardeners can follow these protective steps for backyard fig trees. Having a partner to work with will make things easier.

  • Roll of jute twine
  • Shredded leavesâabout one lawn bag full for each tree. You can shred raked leaves by running over them with a lawn mower.
  • A roll of burlap
  • Bamboo or metal stakes long enough to frame each tree, 3 per tree
  • Post-pounder tool, mallet, or hammer
  • Approximately 12 feet of chicken wire for each tree
  • Tar paper or roofing felt
  • Stapler, duct tape, or packing tape
  • Empty plastic bucket, 1 per tree
  • Step stool or ladder

Step Two: Using bamboo or metal stakes as a frame, build a chicken wire cage around each tied and wrapped tree. The frame should taper slightly toward the top.

Maeve Turner is curator of BBG’s Herb Garden.

Chicago Hardy Figficus Carica Chicago Hardy

Chicago Hardy Potted Fig Tree For Sale
  • If planted in ground and kept outside in winter, protect in zones 6-7 with root mulch.
  • In zones 5-6 in winter, lay down branches and cover with soil as well as covering main trunk in soil.
  • If dieback occurs, it will resprout in spring.
  • Can be grown in a container throughout zones 4-11.
  • These trees can be grown indoors as a container or patio tree. Once the weather is warm, they can be transitioned outside. Patio trees should be kept inside during cold days/nights.

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Hardy Figs Grown In Ohio For Profit

Figure 9. Fig fruits that fail to ripen around late autumn due to low temperatures. Photo by Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

There is a big difference between being able to grow hardy figs in Ohio and making money from it. Since a majority of the fruits ripen from September to November, growing in a high tunnel is highly recommended for growing hardy figs for profit in Southern Ohio. Potential growers in central and northern Ohio will need to be even more cautious when considering a fig planting since our observations are from Southern Ohio. The total amount of ripe figs per plant ranged from 2 to 5 pounds per plant during the first three years inside the high tunnel while that amount was about 1 pound outside the high tunnel. Without protection from a high tunnel, a large percentage of fig fruits will fail to ripen once cold temperatures arrive . We do not have accurate economic data on hardy fig production due to funding limitations and a short project period. Based on the information from the University of Kentucky, 10 pounds of hardy figs will need to be produced per plant and sold for at least $3 per pound for growers to turn a profit .

Chicago Hardy Fig Tree Growth And Care Guide

Fig trees, formally known as ficus carica, typically do best in mild climates. However, some types of figs, such as the Hardy Chicago, can withstand colder temperatures such as the ones in Chicago, Illinois.

If youre wondering what types of hardy fig trees grow in Chicago, youve come to the right place. Lets take a look at the possibilities for the windy city.

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Hardy Figs As A Commercial Crop In Ohio

Figure 2. Hardy figs in a high tunnel at OSU South Centers near Piketon, Ohio. Photo by Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

Test a small planting first to check their productivity and the market demand. A high tunnel is highly recommended to produce an earlier harvest and extend the growing season into autumn . In 2019, the fruits on the hardy fig plants in trials near Piketon, Ohio began ripening around early-September and kept ripening up into November in a high tunnel. Hardy figs produce more fruits, an earlier harvest and a longer harvest in a high tunnel production. Hence, high tunnel production of hardy figs is highly recommended. Growers need to weigh the high costs of high tunnels since we did not conduct a cost benefit analysis of the high tunnel system.

The fruits on the fig plants grown in the open field without protection from the high tunnel started ripening around early October and continued until mid-October in 2019. Fruit growth slowed down when the weather cooled and stopped October 18 and 19 when air temperatures were, 32°F and 31.6°F, respectively. Fig plants shed their leaves after a hard freeze on November 1, 2019. These unripe fruits shriveled afterward. Hence, we do not recommend the open field production of hardy fig in Ohio due to significant loss of fruit yield.

Harvesting Chicago Hardy Fig

Pruning My Chicago Hardy Fig | From Shrub To Tree!

The main rule of fig harvesting is that you should wait until they are ripe because figs do not ripen off the tree. And be gentle picking them, as figs are delicate.

Chicago Hardy figs are ready to harvest when they are a deep purple or brown, slightly soft to the touch. Overripe figs are very soft. Use pruners to cut the figs off the stems.

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Propagating Chicago Hardy Fig

Propagation from tip cuttings is the easiest, more reliable, and fastest method. While propagation from seed is possible, takes at least three to four years for a tree to reach fruiting stage, and the outcome is unpredictable.

For propagating Chicago Hardy fig, you need sharp pruners , a 6-inch deep pot filled with moistened sterile potting mix, and a greenhouse dome, or a half-gallon clear plastic bottle with the bottom removed.

  • When the tree produces new growth in the early spring, cut a healthy-looking tip of 6 to 8 inches in length just below a leaf node.
  • Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and insert it in the soil of the prepared pot so that the leaf node is buried in the soil.
  • Place the greenhouse dome over the pot to create high humidity around the cutting.
  • Keep the pot at an ambient temperature at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit and in bright but indirect sunlight.
  • Water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Wait until the cutting has produced new leaves and roots before repotting it in a larger container, or in garden soil.
  • About Chicago Hardy Fig Trees

    The Chicago Hardy Fig tree is known for being especially cold hardy and producing small, brown to purple colored figs. The inside of the fruit is colored a lovely shade that looks like strawberry jam. This plant is also known as the Bensonhurst Purple fig or the Hardy Chicago.

    It is productive and easy to grow, exhibiting drought-tolerance once established. The Chicago Hardy may die back in colder climates and resume growth in the spring. It bears fruit early on the new growth. Figs that grow on the older wood will appear in early summer. This plant is heat tolerant and self-pollinating, meaning that it does not need to be planted near another variety of fig to produce fruit.

    This is the perfect plant to accent your patiowith the bonus of fresh figs! The cheerful foliage has attractive broad leaves, and the figs grow green until ripening into darker fruit. When planting in containers, the fig can be brought indoors during the winter months.

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    All About Bensonhurst Purple Fig

    Figs are an unusual crop, and I personally adore them!

    The fruit we love to eat is actually inverted flowers. The pear-shaped fig fruit is filled with these flowers, each with its own hard fruit called an achene. Achenes give figs their crunch, and the flowers provide the fruits pulp and sweetness.

    This Mediterranean fruit is one of the earliest forms of cultivated crops. And with the Chicago hardy fig, people in areas outside its normal range are able to grow it!

    The Chicago hardy fig, also called the Bensonhurst Purple fig, is far from the only cultivar. But its prized for its tolerance to colder conditions. Most figs only grow in growing zones 7-9, but this one can tolerate temperatures from zones 6-10. Sometimes theyll even survive the chilly climate of zone 5.

    Its purplish-brown, medium-sized fruit is delightful. Beautifully sweet and fine-grained pink flesh hides within its skin, just waiting to be consumed. And in warmer environments, it may not produce just a single crop of fruit. It can sometimes produce an early crop before the main fruiting.

    The figs older bark is a silvery-grey color thats quite attractive. New stems have a greenish hue. Its leaves have three to five lobes and are hairy and rough on top, smooth on the bottom. These leaves can reach sizes of up to 10 in length.

    A beautiful plant, this hardy Chicago fig is well worth the time and energy spent.

    How Do You Overwinter Chicago Hardy Figs

    Chicago Cold Hardy Fig Tree

    Place containers in an insulated unheated preferably dark room, garage or cool basement. If the space is not dark, you can cover the figs. If youre lucky enough to have an environmentally controlled greenhouse, you may not need to cover them. Water them monthly until just moist so the roots do not dry out completely.

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    When To Call The Fig Experts

    Figuring out your fig can take more work than you initially thought. Planting the tree, understanding its requirements, and battling various pests and diseases might require more than one set of hands. For further help with your fig tree, call a local tree care pro near you. Let the professionals deal with heavy lifting while you reap the rewards.

    Main Image Credit: Simon / Pixabay

    How To Grow And Care For Chicago Hardy Fig

    A Fig Tree That Grows in Cooler Climates

    Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

    If you would like to grow your own figs, Chicago Hardy fig is a good choice for several reasons. As its names indicates, it is very hardy, looks attractive in the landscape, it fits even in small spaces, and it is suitable for container-growing.

    Chicago Hardy is a cultivar of the common fig with large, up to 10-inch long, broad leaves. As the bark matures, it becomes a handsome silvery-grey. While the greenish flowers in the spring are not showy, they turn into medium-size sweet dark figs in the late summer and early fall. Chicago Hardy fig is a moderately fast grower that is planted in the spring or fall. If you would like to grow your own figs, Chicago Hardy fig is a good choice for several reasons. As its names indicates, is it very hardy, looks attractive in the landscape, it fits even in small spaces, and it is suitable for container-growing.

    Common Name
    Cultivar, no native range

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    Can You Grow Fig Trees In Pots

    A container suitable for planting fig trees in pots should be large. Half whiskey barrels are ideal, but any container large enough to accommodate the root ball plus some growing space is fine. You can always transplant the tree in later years as it outgrows the container.

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    It may not be easy but it isnt impossible, either.

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    It looked like the best fig year ever, with maybe 20 fruits forming on my potted tree as the season progressed. But frost is coming any day, and many of those figs are still hanging there, undersized and hard and green, destined never to achieve ripeness.

    Why cant I get this right?

    The figgy frustrations of Northeastern gardeners like me are the subject of Lee Reichs latest book, Growing Figs in Cold Climates: A Complete Guide. In it, he suggests various strategies for outsmarting Ficus carica, a subtropical plant that originated in the very different climate of the Middle East, but can be coaxed to grow and even fruit in much colder zones with the right strategies.

    You have probably read about or seen some of the traditional lengths that fig growers go to, like wrapping a tree with burlap stuffed with leaves, an adequate protection outside a Brooklyn brownstone, maybe, but not too much farther north.

    Other gardeners prune in fall, after leaf drop, and then dig halfway around the figs rootball and bend the plant down to the opposite side, covering it with soil or leaves and a tarp. For maximum insulation, some dig a trench alongside the fig, and then lower the tree into the trench and cover it.

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    Harvesting Your Fig Tree

  • 1Wait until the figs on your fig tree are ripe before you harvest them. You’ll know they’re ripe when they’re drooping down from the branches they’re growing off of. If a fig is still perpendicular to the branch it’s growing off of, it’s not ripe. Keep in mind that not all of the figs on your fig tree will ripen at the same time.XResearch source
  • The figs on your fig tree should be ripe around late summer or early fall.XTrustworthy SourceRoyal Horticultural SocietyLeading gardening charity in the U.K. providing resources for identifying, growing and caring for flowers and other plantsGo to source
  • 2Use your hands to pick the ripened figs off your fig tree. Search the branches of your fig tree for a ripened fig. When you find one, grab it by the thin stem connecting the fig to the branch. Then, gently pull the stem away from the branch until it breaks off.XResearch source
  • Carry a basket with you as you’re harvesting your fig tree so you have something to put the figs in as you pick them off the tree.
  • 3Put bird netting over your fig tree if birds are eating your figs. Wrap the netting over the branches of your fig tree and tie it off around the trunk. When you’re ready to harvest some of your figs, untie the netting and lift it off the tree. When you’re finished harvesting, put the netting back over your fig tree.XResearch source
  • You can find bird netting online or at your local gardening center.
  • What Is A Hardy Chicago Fig

    Native to Sicily, hardy Chicago figs, as the name suggests, are the most cold tolerant fig trees available. This beautiful fig tree bears luscious, medium-sized figs which are produced on older wood in the early summer and fruit on new growth in the early fall. The ripe fruit is a dark mahogany contrasting with the characteristic three-lobed, green fig leaves.

    Also known as Bensonhurst Purple, this tree can grow up to 30 feet in height or can be restrained to around 6 feet . Chicago figs do well as container-grown trees and are drought tolerant once established. Fairly pest resistant as well, this fig can produce up to 100 pints of fig fruit per season and is easily grown and maintained.

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