When To Put Potted Fig Trees Outside (+ Winter Care Guide)

Potted fig trees are a popular addition to many gardens and patios, but when winter approaches, they require special care to survive the colder months.

You can put your fig tree back outside in late spring once the danger of frost has passed and temperatures consistently stay above 50°F at night. Gradually acclimate your tree by exposing it to outdoor conditions every day before permanently leaving it outside.

In the following, we’ll discuss the best practices for caring for your potted fig tree during the winter season, including how to protect it, how to encourage dormancy, and when it is safe to move it back outside in the spring.

Key Takeaways:

  • Fig trees go dormant during winter and require rest to prepare for the next growing season.
  • Potted fig trees should be moved to an unheated location, such as a garage, before freezing temperatures arrive.
  • During winter, fig trees should be watered less frequently and kept in a location with a temperature range of 32-50°F.
  • Fig trees can be insulated with bubble wrap or burlap to protect the roots from freezing temperatures.
  • When moving a potted fig tree back outside, gradually acclimate it to outdoor conditions by exposing it to sunlight and wind for increasing amounts of time each day.

Potted Fig Tree Winter Care

Because potted fig trees bear fruit, their needs in winter are different from other trees or plants commonly grown in containers.

While they do need cold temperatures, freezing conditions could damage the roots as they are not protected deep underground.

Can Potted Fig Trees Survive Winter?

Yes, potted fig trees (Ficus carica) can survive winter with proper care.

However, they are sensitive to freezing temperatures, so it’s important to protect them during the colder months by reducing watering, bringing them indoors, and possibly providing insulation.

Potted Fig Temperature Tolerance

Potted fig trees can tolerate temperatures between 20-25°F for short periods of time, but their ideal temperature range is between 50-85°F (10-29°C).

Temperatures below 20°F can cause severe damage or even kill the tree. Therefore, you should shelter your tree in a cool space such as a garage or basement before freezing temperatures arrive.

The area should ideally remain between 32°F to 50°F and be rather dark. This temperature range will protect the tree from damage but still allow for adequate chill hours so the tree will fruit in the spring.

Do Fig Trees Need To Go Dormant?

Yes, fig trees require a period of dormancy during the winter months to rest and prepare for the next growing season.

During dormancy, the tree will drop its leaves, reduce its water intake, and slow down its metabolic processes.

This is a natural part of the fig tree’s life cycle and helps to promote healthy growth and fruit production.

When To Bring Potted Fig Tree Inside

You should bring a potted fig tree inside when temperatures are expected to drop below freezing for an extended period of time or when heavy frost is expected.

Light to moderate frost will kill the leaves, causing them to drop and preventing any unripe fruit from further developing. This is no cause for concern as it is part of the tree’s seasonal cycle.

Additionally, you can bring the tree inside if it is experiencing stress or damage from extreme heat, strong winds, or heavy rain.

The bare branches of a common fig tree in the middle of winter.

Caring for Potted Fig Tree Over Winter

To care for a potted fig tree over winter when it is sheltered in an area such as a garage, you should:

  1. Reduce watering: Water the tree only when the soil is dry to the touch.
  2. Provide insulation: Wrap the pot in bubble wrap or burlap to insulate the roots and protect them from freezing temperatures.
  3. Monitor temperature: Keep the tree in an area that stays between 32-50°F to ensure it stays dormant but doesn’t freeze.
  4. Provide light: If possible, provide the tree with a source of light, such as a grow light, for no more than 6 hours per day.
  5. Prune: Prune any dead or damaged branches, but avoid heavy pruning as it can stimulate new growth, which is not ideal during dormancy.

Do Fig Trees Need To Be Covered in Winter?

The answer here depends on the severity of the winter weather. If the temperature drops below 20-25°F, then fig trees should be covered to protect them from freezing temperatures.

However, if the winter weather is mild and temperatures stay above freezing, then covering the tree may not be necessary.

When To Move Potted Fig Tree Back Outside

You should move a potted fig tree back outside once all danger of frost has passed and temperatures remain above 50°F at night.

It’s important to gradually acclimate your tree to outdoor conditions by exposing it to sunlight and wind for increasing amounts of time each day before leaving it outside permanently.

This will help the tree adjust to the outdoor conditions and prevent shock.

When To Wrap a Fig Tree for Winter

You should wrap a fig tree for winter when temperatures consistently drop below 20-25°F (-6 to -4°C) for an extended period of time.

Bubble wrap, burlap, or similar material will help protect the roots from freezing temperatures and prevent damage or death to the tree.

Related Questions:

Do Indoor Fig Trees Go Dormant?

Like outdoor fig trees, indoor figs require a period of rest during the winter months to prepare for the next growing season.

During dormancy, the tree will drop its leaves, reduce its water intake, and slow down its metabolic processes. It’s important to provide cool temperatures during this time to ensure chill requirements are met.

Indoor fig trees may also go through a period of rest during the summer months if they are not provided with enough light or water.

How Late Can You Plant a Fig Tree?

The best time to plant a fig tree is in the late winter or early spring, while the tree is still dormant.

However, you can also plant a fig tree in the late fall, as long as you do so before the first hard frost.

Planting in the fall will give the tree a head start on establishing its root system before the next growing season.

It’s important to choose a location with well-draining soil and full sun exposure to ensure the tree’s success.

Final Thoughts

Although chilly temperatures are necessary for fig tree fruit production, freezing temperatures should be avoided when growing a fig tree in a pot because the roots are more vulnerable than if they were underground.

Now that you know what a potted fig tree requires in terms of winter care, you can confidently relocate it when temperatures drop and reintroduce it to outdoor living in the spring.

Just remember that it’s natural for the tree to shed its leaves and look rather dead during the winter months. Don’t worry!

Come spring, you’ll soon see tender new leaves forming and, hopefully, lots of tiny fruits developing.