fig tree is stunted

Asked November 19, 2018, 12:36 PM EST

I planted a fig (not sure if it is celeste or turkey?) several years ago. It was growing well, reaching approx 4 feet in height before it was girdled by a deer during rutting season. I presumed it dead and then in July it showed life again. But since then, it's been a few years, it puts out nice healthy leaves each season, but will not grow higher than 3 feet, and does not fruit. The only adverse conditions I can think of is it is not in 100% sun--it gets some shade in the heat of the summer, and it is 20-30 feet from my neighbor's immense black walnut. (I no longer have a deer problem.) Is it the black walnut, or if not, is there anything I can do?

Montgomery County Maryland

3 Responses

Figs are great to have but have difficulties with our winters, and this is likely your problem.
In our area, without winter protection it is difficult to get fruits because the top portions of the plant are often killed back by cold. Though often they can grow back from the roots, they are not able to produce and ripen fruits.
This is also the reason why we tend to grow them in bush form here as opposed to a tree.
Here is more information on figs and how to have success growing them here:

We are not seeing data regarding figs and black walnut. If the plant looks healthy otherwise, it is not likely a problem. Juglone toxicity would show up as wilting and yellowing.


But my neighbor has a gigantic fig growing probably less than 50ft away from mine. Hers is on the north side of the house with less sun and a bitter north wind compared to mine on the south side of the yard. They make lots of fig jam. I even cover my plant up with leaves in the winter which she does not do. She does mulch with lots of compost, which I have not done, but I thought figs don’t like it too rich.

It is unusual for the shoots not to grow higher than 3 feet in a growing season. Figs can tolerate poor soils and some shade. The root system may have been weakened by the deer damage and just is not able to recover.

All you can do is let it go and see what this season brings and/or plant another fig.