Winter Shelter for Fig Trees

Overview

The fig tree prefers a temperate climate, with warm temperatures day and night. If you live in an area that experiences winter frost, you'll need to provide winter shelter for your fig trees to get the plants through the frost season. Fig trees that have been planted in containers can be moved into your garage or home, but you'll need to create a shelter for outdoor plants that can't be moved.

Time Frame

Cornell Cooperative Extension suggests you wrap fig trees for the winter in November or December, though you'll need to do it earlier if your area experiences deep frosts. Keep your fig tree sheltered through the winter until the weather warms and frost danger has passed for your area, around mid-March.

Indoor Shelter

While you don't need to provide much care for a fig that you've moved indoors for the winter, you'll need to water periodically. New Mexico State University notes that figs can withstand near-freezing temperatures once they go dormant and that even an uninsulated garage provides adequate winter shelter. Monitor your indoor fig tree and water when the soil goes dry, then move the fig outside after frost danger passes.

Wrapping a Tree

Outdoor fig trees can be covered with burlap for winter protection. Begin at the base of the fig tree and wrap the entire tree with burlap, pinning the layers of burlap together with pins as a dressmaker might pin fabric together. Once you've covered the tree with burlap, wrap the tree with heavy brown paper. Tie the paper to the tree with twine. Stack cardboard near the base of the tree to form a skirt or collar, and tie the cardboard together. Lastly, Cornell Cooperative Extension suggests coating the cardboard and brown paper with tar paper to repel water.

Burying a Tree

If you don't want to wrap your fig tree, Cornell Cooperative Extension suggests the less intensive method of burying. Before you bury the tree, prune away any leaves, figs or dead wood. Then bend the tree over in a U-shape and tie the tree to a wooden garden stake so it remains in this U-shape. Cover the entire tree with leaves, straw or compost; continue adding this insulation material until all of your fig tree's wood is covered with three to four inches of material. For extra protection, add 2 to 3 inches of mulch or straw on top of this.

Warning

Fig trees can produce on new season growth or old season growth. A fig tree that freezes due to poor winter shelter will produce figs on new season growth but not on old season growth. Varieties that produce on old growth will not grow figs if they experience winter freezing.

Keywords: fig tree care, winter fig care, winter shelter trees

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.