Burying Fig Trees for Winter

 Fig tree ready to protect for the winter. I use twine to pull in tie the branches together before laying the plant against the soil.

Fig tree ready to protect for the winter. I use twine to pull in tie the branches together before laying the plant against the soil.

 Fig tree with roots loosened on one side, tipped over to lie on the ground. The board and concrete block weigh it down. Next step is to add leaves or straw over top to insulate it.

Fig tree with roots loosened on one side, tipped over to lie on the ground. The board and concrete block weigh it down. Next step is to add leaves or straw over top to insulate it.

IT’S MID NOVEMBER and my fig trees here in Toronto have dropped their leaves and gone dormant. I moved my potted fig fig trees into my garage (I keep the temperature in the garage near freezing over the winter.)

But like many fig growers in areas with cold winters, I still grow figs in the ground and give them extra winter protection. A common way to give that protection is to insulate the tree by burying it.

At this time of year, I use a spade to chop away the roots on one side of the fig plant—and then lay it flat against the ground.

Some people avoid the burying method of overwintering figs, worried about the work of digging. Once, after I gave a talk about figs, an audience member came up to me to confide that he had tried burying his fig tree, but it was too much work to dig down six feet! I reassured him that it’s not necessary to dig his fig plant a grave—that at the most he needed a shallow trench. Then I explained that around here, the fig plants are usually fine if you lay them flat against the surface of the soil and put a thick mulch on top. You don’t even need to dig a trench!

You will see in the above photos one of my fig trees before and after. Once the roots on one side are loosened and I’ve tipped over the plant, I put a board and concrete block over the top to hold it in place. Soon, I’ll put a thick layer of straw or leaves over the top to insulate it. And when it snows, I’ll heap on some snow too.

But I don’t rush the mulching…mice love to eat fig bark, and I want them to find a home elsewhere before I mulch my figs.

If you’re thinking about overwintering your fig, here are a few other ideas for you: