Over watering fig trees

Question: I have one black mission and one white fig planted six years ago. The second crop of figs are small and easily fall off. I’m guessing they get 6 gallons every other day during the heat. Both trees grow very rapidly and are very healthy. What can be done to increase fig growth?

Make sure they receive adequate water during times of production. Figs require more water as they get larger. Apply water more often as the season gets hotter. If you don’t, the fruits will be small and fall off the tree.

Six gallons every other day is not enough for 6-year-old trees. Fig trees should be watered to a depth of at least 18 inches at each irrigation. If fig trees do not get enough water, the fruits will be small, leathery or drop from the tree early.

Figs are not easily blown off the tree if adequately watered. Figs require effort to remove even when they are ready to harvest.

It is hard to tell you specifically how much water to give your figs. An example might be the amount needed to fill a basin around the trunk 3 to 4 inches deep and extending half its diameter.

Filling a basin this size once should be adequate for a single irrigation. Increase the frequency of irrigation two to three times a week during the summer.

Figs respond well to surface mulches such as wood chips. Put a layer of wood mulch around the tree to a depth of 4 to 6 inches and apply a small amount of fertilizer in January to improve growth and production.

Even though figs are acclimated to our desert, they are more of an oasis plant, requiring frequent irrigations.

Bob Morris is a horticulture expert living in Las Vegas and professor emeritus for the University of Nevada. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Care: The Ten Commandments

Caring for your fiddle leaf fig can be complex and overwhelming, especially if you are a first time plant owner. Good fiddle leaf fig care makes your plant stronger and more resistant to disease. But poor care creates a downward spiral of sickness and problems. Luckily, there are ten critical components to successfully caring for your fiddle leaf fig plant. Follow these ten commandments of fiddle leaf fig care for a happy and healthy plant.

1. Provide Proper Drainage

Fiddle leaf fig care starts with the root system, that is the basis of your plant’s health. Many people are not aware, but to work properly, roots need both water and oxygen. Proper drainage allows your plant’s root system to breathe and stay healthy. Without adequate drainage, root rot can set in and kill your plant.

Make sure your plant is potted properly and drains completely after each watering. To check, insert a wooden skewer to the bottom of the pot and make sure it’s not wet before you water. If it’s wet a week after you watered last, you need to improve your drainage in a hurry.

(You may need to repot your fiddle leaf fig plant.)

2. Don’t Drown Them

In addition to providing proper drainage, it’s important to let your plant’s soil dry out a bit between waterings. Too much water is one of the most common mistakes owners make with their fiddle leaf fig care. Be aware of your plant’s water requirements and make sure you aren’t drowning your plant.

If you’re confused about whether your plant has been getting too much or too little water, there are some surefire ways to tell. Ask yourself the following questions about over-watering:

  1. Do you water more than once a week? If so, your plant is probably over-watered.
  2. Is the soil wet to the touch one inch below the surface? Stick your finger in and find out. If so, over-watering is likely.
  3. Do your plant’s leaves have dark spots or edges? This could signify too much water.
  4. Are their flies or a musty smell in your plant’s soil? Too much water is the culprit.

Here are some ways to tell if you’ve been under-watering your plant:

  1. Are the newest leaves smaller than the existing leaves? They may be lacking water or nutrients for growth.
  2. Is your plant dropping leaves? This can be caused by low humidity or thirst.
  3. Is the top inch of soil very dry? Your plant may be thirsty.
  4. Are the edges of your plant’s leaves brown? They may be dry.

You don’t need to drench your plant to give it enough water.

To keep things simple, water your plant the same amount each week. For plants that measure less than 2 feet from the soil to the tallest leaves, water 1 cup each week. For plants that are greater than 2 feet tall, water with 2 cups of water each week. If your plant is between 3 and 6 feet tall, use 3 cups of water. More than 6 feet tall? Water with 4 cups of water each week or just until your container drains. Never let your plant sit in water, and make sure your container fully drains each time you water.

3. Give Them a Rest in Winter

During the winter, your plant receives less sun and as a result, it has less energy to complete its metabolic functions. As a result, it uses less water and nutrients. Water less and suspend fertilization during the winter to give your plant a chance to rest.

Fiddles generally love consistency, but we can’t control the seasons and the environmental changes they bring.

This might sound like a lot of adjusting for us and like the furthest thing from consistency, but the idea here is to maintain the consistency of the environment for your fiddle. Do your best to maintain the temperature, humidity, and quality of light your tree receives, whether that means adding a grow light, using a humidifier in the winter, or covering an AC vent.

4. Accept the Loss of Older Leaves

Plants are always growing and shedding older leaves in favor of new growth. Fiddle leaf fig plants will drop their lower leaves as they grow taller.

The bottom leaves are usually the oldest leaves because most new growth on fiddle leaf figs occurs at the top.

It’s normal for bottom leaves to droop and eventually fall off because the tree just doesn’t need them anymore.

If your tree drops a leaf or two from the bottom, don’t panic.

5. Give Them Humidity

The ideal humidity for a fiddle leaf fig is between 30 and 65 percent. If you live in a very dry climate, you may need to supplement your plant with extra humidity by misting it or providing a humidifier. Be sure not to put your fiddle leaf fig near a heater vent, which will dry out your plant.

Simply run a warm mist humidifier within 5 feet of (but not directly onto) your fiddle leaf fig to replace the airborne moisture your heater saps.

6. Treat Problems Immediately

Fiddle leaf fig plants are relatively slow growers, since their large leaves require a lot of energy to build. This makes treating ailments quickly even more important, since it takes them so long to recover from problems. Be sure to act quickly if you see brown spots, leaf drop, or an insect infestation.

7. Repot When Needed

If your fiddle leaf fig is healthy, its root system will begin to outgrow its pot in a few years. If you see roots growing near the bottom or edges of the pot, it may be time to repot to give your plant more space to grow. If you’ve reached your maximum container size, top-dress instead of repotting, by removing the top four inches of soil and replacing with new soil.

8. Feed Them Properly

During the growing season (spring and summer), your plant will be putting a lot of resources toward growing new branches and leaves. To support a healthy plant, it’s critical to provide proper nutrition. Use a diluted liquid fertilizer each time you water (every week) in the spring and summer and every other time you water in the fall. Do not fertilize in winter while your plant is dormant and not growing. Try a liquid house plant fertilizer or Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Food for best results.

9. Use the Proper Tools

To take proper care of your plant, it’s important to keep the proper tools including a watering can, moisture meter, sharp pruning shears, and even a rolling plant stand that allows you to move and rotate your fiddle leaf fig.

10. Check on Your Plant Every Week

The best way to take good care of your plant is to get to know it better. Take the time to check on your fiddle leaf fig every week. First, take a look a the soil to see if it’s wet or dry before you water. Look at the leaves for any signs of wilting or brown spots. Rotate your plant to make sure it gets even sunlight. Finally, take an overall assessment of your plant and make a note of any changes like new growth.

How to Learn More about Fiddle Leaf Fig Care

For more information about fiddle leaf figs, join the Fiddle Leaf Fig Club, and register for our free Fiddle Leaf Fig Care Webinar.

Read The Fiddle Leaf Fig Expert, your complete guide to growing healthy fiddle leaf fig plants. The book is available in full-color paperback or Kindle edition on Amazon now!

Click to join our community on Facebook: Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource Group.

YOURS FREE!

Now is the season for fresh figs. For someone who discovered fresh figs late in life, I love making up for lost time and devour them whenever I get the chance.

So this year, as I was driving along with my fresh figs in the seat next to me (they are delicate so they travel in the passenger seat instead of the back of the car) I thought, “I want to have a fig tree!”

Since I have never grown a fig tree before, I knew I needed to do some research.

Tips For How To Grow A Fig Tree

– Figs like sun and need to be protected from wind – especially for the first few years while they are getting established.

– Young trees cannot handle frost, so they must be protected from frost at this stage.

– Fig trees love limey soil. If your soil’s pH is below 6.5, add some lime.

– Drainage needs to be excellent – Like myself, they don’t like wet feet!

– Add big rocks to the planting hole as figs do well when their roots grow at a shallow level. If they grow too deeply, the tree will put it’s energy into the foliage and not fruit production.

– Fig trees can also be grown in large containers.

How To Give Your Fig Tree Some TLC

Now I read that fig trees are pretty tough. However, by giving your tree some tender loving care, they will reward you with delicious fruit…what could be better?

– Give them a prune during the winter and summer and remove any dead branches.

– Fig trees love a deep thorough watering when they have fruit.

Below is a recipe from an expert fig grower to keep your tree super healthy by keeping away scale. It should be applied August and September to the base of the tree after pruning.

George’s Recipe for White Wash:

– The ratio is 3 cups of lime to 1 cup of Copper Sulphate.
– Mix the three cups of lime with two litres of water and stir to
make a paste

– Mix the one cup of Copper Sulphate with a litre of water and
stir to make a paste.

– This mixture should resemble quite a thick paste. Finally, mix these together and paint on the tree.

How To Manage Pests

– Fruit flies can cause fruit spoilage. There are many products on the market to help protect your trees.

– Birds love figs. Invest in some netting – otherwise there will not be any figs left for you!

Interesting Fig Facts

– Figs produce two crops. The first is called the breba crop and emerges from branches in late autumn or early winter. The breba crop is carried through winter as tiny, immature figlets, maturing around late January. The second crop is the heavier crop and is what is about now.

– Figs flower on the inside!

– Names of the fig varieties are incredibly cool and interesting: Black Genoa, Preston Prolific, White Adriatic…there is also the Brown Turkey, which I guess is cool as well!

Fig Yumminess

Figs are a fantastic snack on their own. However, if you want to try them a different way, drizzle them with maple syrup and bake at 160 degrees for 30 minutes… soooo good.

Or stuff the fig with brie cheese, wrap some prosciutto around it, stick a toothpick through the fig to hold everything together and sit them in a pan and fry gently in some butter. Just enough to let the heat melt the brie!

Tonight I will be trying something I heard today at the fruit shop. I will be putting a small amount of dark chocolate inside a fig and baking it for 15 minutes… Stay tuned on its yumminess factor!

Looking Forward To Planting My Own Fig Tree!

I will be purchasing my fig tree from Daley’s Fruit Nursery. Winter is a good time to plant a fig tree. Daley’s plants will be available from June onwards.

Do you have a fig tree in your garden? Would love to hear your stories or tips!

How often should you water a fig tree? Ask the experts

Samantha Swindler/staff

Experts ready to answer gardening questions

From soil health to plant selection, the questions are pouring in as summer continues. Get answers from Ask an Expert, an online question-and-answer tool from Oregon State University’s Extension Service. OSU Extension faculty and Master Gardeners reply to queries within two business days, usually less. To ask a question, simply go to the OSU Extension website and type in a question and the county where you live. Here are some questions asked by other gardeners. What’s yours?

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Marv Bondarowicz/staff/file

A fix for a fig tree?

Q: We planted a small fig tree in our yard in Springfield at the end of May of this year. After we planted the tree, we filled the hole with compost. It is in full sun. It seemed to be doing OK at first, though growing slowly, but in the last few weeks some of its leaves have turned yellow and brown and fallen off. We had been watering it daily, but then read that we should only water it once a week, so switched to doing that. It has not seemed to help, though, as a small number of leaves continue to turn yellow and brown and fall off. We inspected the leaves and didn’t see any bugs. Do you have any suggestions about what we could try to make our fig tree healthy again?

– Lane County

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Check for root rot

A: I think your intentions with the compost and daily watering were good, but their effects were quite the opposite. Planting in native soil and watering deeply but infrequently (perhaps twice weekly for the first year at most) is the way to go. Most likely the plant is suffering from root rot, which means even though you’re backing off on the watering, it is lacking the healthy roots it needs to provide water to the leaves. Couple that with hot weather and it’s not good. My recommendation is to dig it up, and if the roots look reasonably healthy, try planting it in a pot and keeping it in a guarded environment for the rest of the summer where it won’t have as great a demand for water as it would out in the open. If the damage thus far is too severe, it won’t make it, but that is true of leaving it where it is, too, so you have nothing to lose by potting it up. If it survives, try re-planting in the spring in just native soil. Save the compost for a mulch on the top.

– Jeff Choate, OSU Extension horticulturist

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Marv Bondarowicz/staff/file

What’s the best way to protect hanging baskets from heat?

Q: I have spent a lot of money on flowers that are mostly petunias and hanging baskets. I always seem to lose them in August. Not sure if I am overwatering or under. I think over is the case. They are the direct sun type. Can you please tell me with the extreme heat should I bring them indoors? Should I water twice a day? Will the direct hot sun hurt them? Please share how I save them this next month.

– Marion County

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Pruning, watering and more watering

A: The goal of annual plants like petunias is to produce leaves, flowers and seeds during one growing season, and then die. They have chemicals in them that signal that they’ve done their job – produced seeds – and so they can abandon the effort. Part of keeping them looking reasonably good is to trick them into believing their work is not done. So, you need to prune them back regularly, especially the flowers. Taking them indoors and depriving them of sunlight won’t help, nor will changing your watering habits, except that they need to be watered as often as twice a day once the temperature gets over 80 degrees.
Check out this great article about caring for hanging baskets.

– K.A. LaMar, OSU Extension Master Gardener

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Marv Bondarowicz/staff/file

Grubs in the compost?

Q: There are 1-inch-long, soft, brown grubs in my sister-in-law’s compost that hide from the light. Are they likely to be helpful or harmful to my garden?

– Lane County

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No worries, but if you want to avoid them…

A: Good news. Those are soldier fly larvae, and they are not harmful. Some folks consider them beneficial, as they very effectively break down organic matter. If your sister-in-law doesn’t want them, there are a couple of things she can do. First, avoid keeping the pile too moist, as these critters prefer wet materials. Second, cover the compost with “dry browns” (e.g., leaves) several inches thick to discourage adults from laying eggs in the moist, nitrogen-rich materials below. Check this article for more information.

– Jeff Choate, OSU Extension horticulturist

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How to care for a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

If you’ve recently become obsessed with the most popular houseplant of the year the Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, you are going to love my tips for how to care for this lovely indoor tree. This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click over and purchase something I earn a small commission, I only recommend products that I use and love!

It’s official. I’ve turned into a crazy plant lady, the other day Matt told his friends at school that our house is slowly turning into a jungle. I don’t know what it is but I’ve slowly started to to become obsessed with having beautiful plants all over our home!

It all started with my fiddle leaf fig tree. I had been seeing them for a long time in all the pictures all over instagram and Pinterest. They are just so unique and elegant and beautiful! I was in Home Depot last year and BAM! There was an entire cart of them being unloaded into the garden section for only $24. This was before Ikea, Costco and others had them regularly. I snagged one and it all started. Below are my best tips for how to care for a fiddle leaf fig tree and have your tree grow quickly!

small fiddle leaf fig’s at home depot

How to care for a fiddle leaf fig tree

Repot in the right container.

Fiddle leaf fig trees need depth for their roots to grow, not so much width and they are susceptible to root rot so you MUST have a drainage hole in your pot. When you purchase your plant you want to repot it immediately into a container that is only about 3-4 inches larger in diameter than what it’s currently in but maybe 6-8″ deeper. Think tall and skinny so those roots have somewhere to go to help your tree become tall.

Use good soil.

Use an indoor potting mix like Miracle Grow’s indoor potting soil. The soil needs to dry out between waterings to prevent root rot and fungus gnats. Don’t use dirt from outside and risk bringing in bugs that could infest your plant.

How to repot the tree.

Estimate how much soil you need in the pot from the bag and dump in the bottom of the pot. Then remove the tree from the plastic container, if it’s stuck you can cut the plastic with scissors so as to not damage the plant. Repotting is easier when your plant is dry, so do not water before you repot. Once you have the plant out of the old container, place it in the new one. It is best for the plant to be just slightly lower than the edge of the container. Fill in with the soil around the edges of the root ball if needed to make the container full.

Water after repotting.

After you have repotted the tree give it a good complete soaking. If it fits into the kitchen sink let it sit under the faucet for several minutes, I like to take my sink hose and use it to water all around the soil for several minutes. When plants are at the store they are often super dry and need to be completely soaked when repotted. Let the excess water drain through the bottom for an hour or so and then drain the saucer that’s underneath the pot, you do not want your fiddle leaf fig tree to sit in water.

Find the perfect light and let it acclimate

Often when a tree is repotted and in a new environment it’s shocked and takes a little bit of time for it to get used to it’s new home. You’ll want to find a good spot where it gets lots of consistent bright light. In a room that has a lot of windows is ideal. Fiddle leaf figs do not like direct intense sunlight on their leaves, indirect light is better. Be careful it is not near a draft, cold air will cause it’s leaves to turn brown and fall off. Brown spots on leaves typically mean the plant is getting too cold, so double check it’s location and make sure it’s not by a vent or drafty window. Once you find a great spot, leave the plant there, fiddle leaf fig trees don’t like to be moved.

Water consistently.

Fiddle leaf fig trees are tropical and like warm humid environments, most of our homes are dry and even cool in the winter months. To trick the plant into thinking it lives in a rainforest I mist it with a spray bottle every week after watering. I’ve found that this keeps the leaves from cracking and having little holes in the leaves. The amount you water depends on the size of your plant, however 1 cup for a medium to small size tree once a week seems to be a good starting place.

At this point I water my medium-large tree with 3 cups of water once a week. You don’t want standing water in the basin or saucer that your pot is sitting in, so after you water if there is excess remove it. For a long time I would stick my finger into the soil about an inch or two before water to see if the soil was damp, then if it was dry I would water. Sometimes in the winter months the soil will still be damp so I will wait a few more days before watering.

Clean dull leaves

The leaves of a fiddle leaf fig tree are large and just like everything else in your house they collect dust. The plant breathes through it’s leaves so you need to clean those big guys! I take a damp microfiber cloth and wipe down the leaves about once a month. Because I spray the leaves weekly with water I wipe them down less often. Sometimes older leaves can get dull, and easy way to bring back shine is to take a little bit of coconut oil with a wet cloth and “polish” them. It does wonders for bringing back shiny leaves. I’m not sure how great this is for the plant so I rarely do it, once a year maybe.

Trouble shooting problems

In the beginning several of the bottom leaves on my fiddle leaf fig tree turned light yellow green and looked very sad. I pulled them off and researched the issue. I was over watering. I’ve read that this can also be caused by pests but in my case it was over watering. If you’re plant needs more water the leaves will all visibly droop. We came back from a vacation and it was clear just looking at the tree that it was seriously thirsty! I’ve also read that if it’s severely dry the top leaves will turn brown and fall off.

Now that you have the basics for how to care for a fiddle leaf fig tree continue reading below for my tips and tricks for how to make your tree grow fast.

How to make a fiddle leaf fig tree grow fast

Fertilize

Every time I water my fiddle leaf fig tree I add a drop of Super Thrive, a friend who is also a crazy plant lady gave me this tip and it has been a game changer. This super concentrated plant food/fertilizer is like magic! I have also on occasion, maybe twice a year stuck some Jobe’s tree fertilizer sticks into the soil.

Pinching off leaves

The first time I pinched off a leaf I was totally freaked out and felt like I was going to kill the tree, but quickly realized it was the right thing to do because pinching spurs more growth for the plant. When the tree has a baby leaf coming out of the top simply pull off the new growing leaf. I know, it seems crazy! But you will see within a week the next several leaves grow so quickly! I typically pinch off a leaf and then let 4-5 new leaves grow and then pinch again. In the photo below you can see a small new leaf on top this is around the size I would pinch. To pinch you pull it from the base of where it is growing from the branch.

Pruning a fiddle leaf fig tree

Pruning, like pinching, can be anxiety inducing. Especially after caring for a fiddle leaf fig tree it seems like cutting the top off is going to ruin all the work you’ve been doing for months! I was nervous but I was also really curious about propagating (making another tree from a cutting) and seeing new branches on my tree so I took the plunge and pruned! You can see in the photo below my tree was becoming very top heavy and leaning.

My fiddle leaf fig as you can see in the photo above was growing strait up on one branch or trunk, I had seen photos of other trees growing different branches and had even tried notching (where you make a notch with a sharp knife in the trunk) to get my tree to branch but nothing had worked. Pruning is the key to getting your fiddle leaf fig tree to branch out in different directions.

The first step to prune is to plan to do it in the spring or summer. The tree naturally has a period of growth during the warm months so you’ll want to capitalize on the growth period. When you prune you’ll want to use a very sharp clean knife, I sharpened one of my kitchen chef’s knives to use. I then located where I would cut on the tree, just about 1/2″-1″ below a leaf. You can see in the photo below how I trimmed off the top of my tree.

What happens next is SO exciting. After about 3 weeks I started to see 3 new buds appear on each of the trunks that I cut. For some reason when I bought my tree it has two trunks in the pot, which is pretty common when purchasing a fiddle leaf fig tree, so I actually have 2 trees in my pot and I’m way to nervous to try to separate them!

For the first few weeks I was really nervous because I was expecting new growth to appear at the cut site, which is not what happens. The cut site becomes dry and dark and I thought I killed my tree and I would never see a new leaf! ha! New buds appear below the cut site and in more than one spot, as I mentioned both of my cut stems developed three different new growth buds which means three new branches! It was so exciting to see these three different branches sprout and grow.

One last tip that I read too late. Once your tree starts to get tall you may be tempted to pull off the lower leaves to make it look more like a tree. The longer you leave the lower leaves on the tree the stronger your trunk will become. I wish I had left my leaves on quite a bit longer so that my trunk would have become a bit bigger and stronger.

You guys I just love this tree! I love how it grows quickly, it’s so satisfying! I love how it looks in my home and I love that even though it’s a little fussy, once you learn how to care for a fiddle leaf fig tree they really are easy. If you have questions leave a comment or tag me on Instagram (@handmadeintheheartland) or facebook!

Resources:

Indoor Potting Soil
Spray bottle for misting
Microfiber cleaning cloth
Super Thrive Fertlizer
Jobe’s Fertilizer Spikes

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