Fig tree losing leaves and fruit

Asked July 12, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT

I live in Bryan, Texas. We planted a fig tree in our front yard in the spring of last year. It seemed to struggle, dropping most of the leaves, but after the winter it came back with a lot of nice green leaves and it set fruit. We watered it every couple of days, until it got hot, then every day.

Around the beginning of June, just as the weather started getting truly hot, the leaves began yellowing, then browning and dropping. It has now lost most of its leaves, and what remain are yellow/brown, and look really bad. We thought maybe it was getting too much sun/heat and set up a small shade structure to give it a little bit of protection during the hottest part of the day. It doesn't seem to have helped. It is trying to put out new leaves, and there are new leaf buds on some of the small branches. The fruit is now dropping off.

I know it is too late to salvage the fruit this year - I'm more concerned with the long-term survival of the plant. Can someone tell me what this is and whether I can treat it? Do I need to remove the plant?

Brazos County Texas trees and shrubs fruits and vegetables horticulture

1 Response

It seems that you have an ongoing establishment issue with your fig tree.
The biggest challenge with establishment of fruit trees in Bryan, Texas and Brazos County is poor soil drainage. Heavy clay layers can limit subsurface drainage of water, causing your roots to not thrive and exhibit stress as you describe.
I recommend some exploratory digging in the vicinity of this plant where you have been watering to see what is happening 1-2 feet down. If you find poor drainage, you may need to re-situate this plant on a raised planting. You may also find that your watering schedule is not keeping up with the drought experienced this summer so far.
You should also consider mulching the soil in a 6 ft x 6 ft area to keep the soil from drying and reduce root temperature. The mulch may be 8-12 inches deep.

Either way, based on age of this plant, I believe the soil moisture is either too little or too much.