Is My Fig Tree Dead?

lobed unlobed fig leaves

Q: I have a 14-year-old fig tree that I thought had died due to this late freeze we had in December. I was about to dig up the dead limbs when I noticed some sprouts coming out from the base. It looks like it may not be dead after all. How far should I prune them back? 

A: Fig expert Claudia James says this is what usually happens to figs in our region when temperatures drop to between 28 degrees and 20 degrees in winter. The top of the bush will be killed, but the underground roots and a few inches of aboveground stump will have dormant but viable buds. When winter cold passes, it only takes about 10 days of warm temperatures to trigger the buds to sprout. Make your cuts 6 to 8 inches beyond the new growth to make good anchor points for the new limbs.

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