What should I do with my stunted fig tree?

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JTh

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What should I do with my stunted fig tree?
« on: August 08, 2018, 10:27:07 AM »
I planted a fig tree more than twenty years ago, I was looking forward to lots of figs and I thought it would soon cover the backside of out outdoor shower. The tree has reached the immense height of around 1.5 m and this year it produced one singe fig. As you can see from the attached photo, the growth is not exactly overwhelming. The soil is not very good, mostly clay and probably a lot of rubble, but OK for olives, and a pomegranate, a bay laurel and a stone pine (Pinus pinea) growing in the same area are all doing very well.  It's getting  watered irregularly when we are taking a shower in summer, and some fertilizer now and then.

Could anybody give me some advice on how to give this stunted fig tree a boost? It's supposed to be such an easy and undemanding  tree and it grows in the wild around here under much poorer conditions.


P8070345-Edit.jpg
by Jorun Tharaldsen, on Flickr
Retired veterinary surgeon by training with a PhD in parasitology,  but worked as virologist since 1992.
Member of the MGS and Branch website editor. Gardening in Oslo and to a limited extent in Halkidiki, Greece.

Umbrian

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Re: What should I do with my stunted fig tree?
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2018, 05:41:23 AM »
I think you have been very patient Jorun but should now give up on that particular tree that definitely looks as if it will never make it!
Treat yourself to a new, young healthy tree and this time hope for better results. My experience with Fig trees is that it is hard to keep them within bounds - this  one obviously has the wrong genes!
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

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Alisdair

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Re: What should I do with my stunted fig tree?
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2018, 08:22:27 AM »
I wonder whether it's perhaps just too dry when you're not there, Jorun? Our neighbour does give his fig tree quite generous waterings when it's in growth, while the fruits are swelling. We don't (can't), and ours in identical conditions is never nearly as impressive as his though I think we planted ours first.
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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John J

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Re: What should I do with my stunted fig tree?
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2018, 08:36:47 AM »
Another example of how contrary plants can be. Our fig tree has never been on an irrigation line and I never consciously give it water and yet it is enormous and produces lots of fruit. As I say it is very large and it's possible that it may now have roots that are stretching out to take advantage of water supplied to other fruit trees, but if so then they go a long way and are sustaining a true giant.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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Charithea

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Re: What should I do with my stunted fig tree?
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2018, 09:05:36 AM »
Jorun take Umbrian's advice.  You will be happier in a few years time while eating your figs.
I garden in Cyprus, in a flat old farming field, alt. approx. 30 m asl.

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John J

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Re: What should I do with my stunted fig tree?
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2018, 09:18:05 AM »
Just took the following photos of our tree, or tried to as it is so large I couldn't get it into the frame. We planted it about 30 years ago, for the first 10 of which we only came over a few times a year so it didn't get a lot of attention. We allowed it to grow as it is situated at the top of our property and not interfering with anything but provides some shade for the area. However, we would never use it as a tree to sit under due to the fact that contact with the leaves can be very irritating and in some people can cause a rash. It provides enough fruit for our needs on the branches we can access  and the ones higher up the birds can have.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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JTh

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Re: What should I do with my stunted fig tree?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2018, 08:46:57 PM »
Thank you to all of you who responded to my cry for help. I agree, I have been far too patient, you all seem agree that I have to find a better specimen and maybe try a better location. I'm not so sure if I'm able to find a better spot,  though. I wasn't quite correct when I wrote that it was not irrigated,except for the showers we take outside in the summer; the tree has actually been on an automatic drip system for quite a few years, but the small, red, plastic sprinklers tend to get clogged with calcium deposits and they need to be cleaned frequently, which is not so easy when we are not there.

I suppose I was unlucky with the tree we chose, I'll see if I can find a better one when we are back in the autumn.
Retired veterinary surgeon by training with a PhD in parasitology,  but worked as virologist since 1992.
Member of the MGS and Branch website editor. Gardening in Oslo and to a limited extent in Halkidiki, Greece.