Wrapping the fig tree for winter

Fig trees are subtropical trees, but they can grow successfully in cold climate if protected in winter. There are several methods to protecting the fig tree, Some growers bury the tree, some wrap it with different materials. If the tree is only a year or two old, it’s safer to bend the tree to the ground and cover it with mulch or other material, however as the tree matures it’s harder to bend down.This is a method that has worked for me successfully.
The planting location is very important in cold regions. Choose a spot that gets enough sun and close to a wall or a structure. The tree benefits from the warmth of the wall in winter, and it is less exposed to frigid wind. An ideal spot is a south facing wall.
Wrap the tree in mid November or anytime after the tree has been exposed to freeze and has lost its leaves. Wrapping it too early, you run the risk of mold.

This is a good time to prune the tree so it is easier to wrap. Select 3-4 trunks and prune all others. This allows enough sun to get to the fruit the following growing season.

Next tie the branches together.

To avoid mice damage during winter, I add a container filled with Moth balls. I used to get severe mice damage before I started using the moth balls, it really works. Place at least 2 to 3 containers, you can use plastic yogurt containers and puncture several holes.

Next, wrap the tree with an old piece of carpet. You can use even a bigger carpet that can cover the entire tree.

Finally wrap the entire tree with a tarp. It’s important not to use a black or a clear plastic, in order to avoid heat build up on a sunny day. You can find different colors at any hardware store. The tarp usually has tiny holes that allows the heat to escape in winter. Some growers leave the top open and place a pot in top of it to allow the heat to escape, it’s up to you.

After wrapping it with the tarp, tie it together.

It is important not to keep the wrapping material on when the weather warms up in spring. The best time to unwrap it is when temperatures stay above 25°F which is usually done in end of March in Pennsylvania. When you unwrap the fig tree in spring you may notice some of the tips are brown, those can be pruned off due to winter damage.


Wrapping Fig Trees

I have two fig trees in my yard in Hoboken NJ. I have been wrapping them every winter, but now the trees are nearly 10 years old and the trunks are 6 inches in circumference making it impossible to bind them together. Are they mature enough to survive the winter without wrapping?

When I was young, my

When I was young, my grandparents, Italian immigrants, would wrap a rather large fig tree on Staten Island, near you. I think it was done with old coats and tar paper and cord. I really don't remember how well this worked, but by that time my grandparents had been in that location for about forty years and they were still doing it on that big tree, so I guess it worked. I think you could wrap the various trunks separately and/or prune it to where it is easier to wrap and mound up around the trunk bases with leaves.

Depending on where the trees

Depending on where the trees have been planted, for example if they're planted near a wall they may survive winter with no extra protection in Hoboken. However unusual cold snap can damage the fruiting buds and reduce the crop in the following season. I hope this helps.

Hi Bass, I live in Zone 8

Hi Bass,

I live in Zone 8 near the ocean. The worst cold we get here is probably 28 degrees or so 4-5 total days during the winter.

I put all my 5-10 gallon figs inside a greenhouse in winter, but the 20 gallon pots are heavy to move. In my case, would you recommend protecting the 20 gallon outdoor figs for the entire winter, or just during those days when it might snow or be icy? I sometimes use a broom to take the snow off of them too.