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Elamanu

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hello everyone,

I am new to fig growing, currently I only own one 2 year old tree which sits in a pot on my balcony on the west side of the house. In the beginning of June I pinched the tree because I read this helps to produce fruit early in cold climates (zone 6 here in Europe) but since I pinched it, it stopped growing altogether. No side shoots, no figs, nothing. For over a month now... I water the tree when the top is dry a few cm down, fertilize with tomato fertilizer about once a month and thats about it...

I would be very happy about some tips from you, telling me where I went wrong, how I can get my tree to grow again...

Thank you!
Sas

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Reply with quote  #2 
From observation, not all fig trees respond as expected to pinching. If the tree has an upright growth habit (as opposed to shrub like growth habit) pinching it will not only slow it down, in some cases the original structure might take a very long time to recover. The tree might end up sending a totally new shoot from ground level. Violette de Sollies is an example.
There are also some slow growing varieties and these will take a longer time to form new branches. Panache is an example.
Your tree should recover, but it might take a season or two to see results.
Certain varieties need old wood and produce fruit at the tip of their branches. Cutting away that wood might encourage new branching but would decrease fruiting as I've experienced.


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Sas from North Austin TX Zone 8B

VeryNew2Figs

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Reply with quote  #3 
I'm coming to the conclusion that you maybe shouldn't pinch until you see figs forming.  I pinched one Hardy Chicago plant very early.   I just went out and looked at it.  The one stem that I missed pinching on this plant has pea sized figs growing.  Those stems that were pinched have branched out and if they have figs growing, they're smaller than rice kernels.  On the plants that I waited until I saw figs forming before I pinched (mostly Hardy Chicago plants), the figs are getting bigger.  They're not big yet, but they're getting bigger.  I've got one tree that I'm totally letting do its own thing.  It's got the biggest and the most figs.  Go figure.

Per Sas' comment, which variety are you growing?

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Cheryl
Chicago, Zone 6a (That's what they say, but it still feels like 5)
Growing:
  Hardy Chicago, Black Mission,
Brunswick, Kadota, Ischia Green, Desert King, Osborne Prolific, Lattarula, Malta Black, Violette de Bordeaux, Texas Everbearing, Beall, Adriatic, Nolo Pink Eyed Lady,  Celeste, Nero 600 m, Violetta Bayernfeing, Marseilles Black VS, Sucrette, Scott's Black, Large Negronne, Croatian, Raspberry Latte, Alma, Longue D'Aout, Pel de Bou, Lloral, Black Triana, Tarantella, Dominick's, Sweet Diana, Bronx Italian Purple, Ciccio Nero, Ronde de Bordeaux (gifted - thank you),  Panache (gifted - thank you) Lyon France (gifted - thank you).

~~~The Addiction is Real~~~
Elamanu

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Posts: 11
Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks for the replies! Yeah i was afraid that I was a bit too ambitious with my pinching... but 1 or 2 seasons to recover? Oh i hope not :(

I have a Longue d'Aout and when I got it in April it had 3 brebas, but they fell off soon afterwards.. i suspected the shipping as a cause for that and was very hopeful to get a few main crops growing so i did some research and tried pinching... well you all know the outcome of that!

I also have it in quite a slow draining soil (it came in that in the mail and i just potted up, but used "normal" plant soil). I mean to change that but I read you should only repot in dormacy so I am waiting for spring (i already bought some perlite and pine bark, waiting for spring ^^)

So that might also be a cause for the growth problem. It seemed to do well in the soil before I pinched it though.
FiggyFrank

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Reply with quote  #5 
Have you checked out the root ball?  If you increase the pot size, that usually spikes new growth within a week or two.
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Frank
zone 7a - VA
fignutty

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Reply with quote  #6 
Pinching didn't stop the growth. It never has for me. Growth stopped probably because it isn't getting enough water. The soil situation doesn't sound good. In good, well-draining soil if you water often enough a fig won't stop growing. Watering when dry 2cm down isn't enough to keep the fig growing. Don't over water in poor draining soil. That could kill it.
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Steve in Alpine TX 7b/8a
Wish list: Emalyn's Purple, CdD Blanc, Genovese Nero AF, Violeta, Hative de Argentueil
pino

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Reply with quote  #7 
I like to be a bit measured with my pinching since there seems to be many different reactions from the plant.

If the plant is mature then pinching only affects the growth behavior of the branch.  After short  recovery the branch will start branching out or producing figs or both.  I pinch all branches on in ground figs after 6/7 leaves.  Container figs I only pinch the branches that are too long and 7/8 leaves.  I like to err on the side of caution so others may be more aggressive.

If the plant is young and only has a main stem I have seen pinching stop the whole plant growth until it recovers which can be a month or longer.  For this reason I stopped pinching young plants for training unless they are really robust and 9/10 leaves.  At the end of the season or before next season starts is when I prune to train at the desired level.

Not to worry, your plant should recover and start growing shortly.
Although as advised above there could be other issues with the plant/soil mix... so now is an opportunity to re-pot and resolve any issues.  Fresh soil mix does wonders to get it growing again.

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Pino, zone 6, Niagara
Wish List: Brogiotto Bianco, Fico Datto, Fiorone di Ruvo, Fracazzano Multicolore, Fiorone Oro, Popone, Rigato del Salento and other multi colour striped figs

Pino's Figs / Pino's Photos; 2017 Brebas / 2017 Main crop

Elamanu

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Reply with quote  #8 
Wow thanks everyone for the answers, really helps me understand this whole fig business better ;)

Quote:
Originally Posted by pino
For this reason I stopped pinching young plants for training unless they are really robust and 9/10 leaves.  At the end of the season or before next season starts is when I prune to train at the desired level.

Not to worry, your plant should recover and start growing shortly.
Although as advised above there could be other issues with the plant/soil mix... so now is an opportunity to re-pot and resolve any issues.  Fresh soil mix does wonders to get it growing again.


Yes I guess I won't pinch so early next year. Should I really repot now even though the plant has a bunch of leaves on it? I would have to clean the roots, hurting some in the process for sure since I have to get rid of ALL the "bad" soil, right?
Elamanu

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FiggyFrank
Have you checked out the root ball?  If you increase the pot size, that usually spikes new growth within a week or two.


No I have not... too afraid of hurting the roots in the process! But I have just increased the pot size in April from 5 liters to 20
ScottA

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Reply with quote  #10 
So if pinching is not a good option to induce low branching in figs that tend to grow upright, what is a better way to prevent them from getting lanky with all their green growth way up high? Do you induce branching with winter pruning like you might do with apple trees?
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Chaorleston SC 8b

Looking for: Strawberry Verte
Growing: Impoved Celeste, VdB, RdB, Smith, MVSB, LSU Purple, BT, Galicia Negra, BM, CH, Latarulla, Ice Crystal, JH Adriatic.

schang

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Reply with quote  #11 
Elamanu:  Pinching the tip of a branch will always induce more branching.  It does not matter the varieties you have.  The time it takes new branches to form depends on a lot of factors, but it is a matter of time only so no worry.

My Ischia white is about 4 years old in ground at 8' tall now.  I pinched some of the branches twice since May.  There were only six figs on the lower branches, and nothing else, no matter if it is the branch I pinched or not.  I can see the tiny protrusions on every leave node, but they just stubbornly refuse to break out.  Meanwhile, my 4' tall black Mission (in ground this April after I bought it at Lowe's) has produce new branches, with figlets on every leave nodes.  Go figure...

I also have an Olympian fig tree from Wellspring this spring which was tiny in a 4" pot at the time.  I put in a 3 gal pot and pinched the lanky trunk at about 10" tall.  Now these branches all produce new branches about 21" tall and thicker than before.  What surprised me is that there are six figlets on the leave nodes already for one year old (?) tree...

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schang from Columbia, SC Zone 8
ScottA

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Reply with quote  #12 
Schang, so do you prefer pinching or winter pruning to induce branching?
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Chaorleston SC 8b

Looking for: Strawberry Verte
Growing: Impoved Celeste, VdB, RdB, Smith, MVSB, LSU Purple, BT, Galicia Negra, BM, CH, Latarulla, Ice Crystal, JH Adriatic.

schang

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Posts: 112
Reply with quote  #13 
It depends...I had to pinch my Ischia white twice because it grows up like crazy this year.  It starts at about 2' tall this spring and now is about 8' tall, that is after two pinches.  

I normally do pruning in winter time for most of my trees, though.

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schang from Columbia, SC Zone 8
ScottA

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Reply with quote  #14 
schang, 

What you are describing reminds me of what I know from pruning apple trees. Winter pruning tends to encourage vegetative growth where as whereas summer pruning will restrict the vigor and aid in dwarfing the tree. Would you say that the same tends to be true of fig trees?


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Chaorleston SC 8b

Looking for: Strawberry Verte
Growing: Impoved Celeste, VdB, RdB, Smith, MVSB, LSU Purple, BT, Galicia Negra, BM, CH, Latarulla, Ice Crystal, JH Adriatic.

schang

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Posts: 112
Reply with quote  #15 
It may help to search the website for pruning time of a specific tree for desired effect.  Late winter pruning for new growth/structural changes can be done for a lot of fruit trees, though mid summer pruning can also be done to thin out the water shoots/suckers.  You can remove dead/damaged branches anytime when you see one.  I recently bought two plum trees, and learned that they are normally pruned in mid-summer, unlike pear and apple trees.  For oranges trees, I seldom prune them, other than removing dead/or low branches. 

For fig trees, you can prune in late winter for structural purposes, such as reducing the height.  This tends to remove a lot of fruits in the coming season, so I would select a few branches I need to remove and save some for fruit production.  During the early growing season, a rule of 6-8 leave node pinching can be done for new branches and more production later if your growing season is long.  If pinched in mid summer, it is primarily for next year's crop.  Others may have different practices toward their fig trees, though.  I plant mine in ground, so they can grown big.  My neighbor's Celeste tree is only four years in ground, but it is like 9 feet tall and the Cardinals love that tree.

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schang from Columbia, SC Zone 8
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