Fig – Repeatedly Dies In Winter

Q: We have a Brown Turkey fig tree. The first year, it produced some figs but they didn’t get fully ripe before the first cold spell and the plant seemed to completely die so we cut it back almost to the ground. Later in the spring it sprouted up to the original height, but once again it died early. This year the cycle has continued, we didn’t cut it back as much as before and it still died early. We live in the Atlanta area and it is planted on the south side of the house getting lots of sun. Is there anything we can do to help this fig tree?

A: New growth on a fig is particularly susceptible to frost damage. I wonder if you’ve gotten into a cycle of pruning, resulting in tender new growth that dies in winter, that has to be removed and the resulting new growth dies again.

I’d leave it alone until May and then remove only the limbs that are dead, nothing else.
If the plant has to be pruned for size considerations, it’s in the wrong spot and needs to be moved to where it can grow unfettered to 15 feet tall and 15 feet wide.

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