What Is A Hardy Chicago Fig – Learn About Cold Tolerant Fig Trees

by johnah on October 31, 2020

What Is A Hardy Chicago Fig?

A “hardy” or “cold tolerant” fig tree refers to one which does not get cold damage from frost. There are several types of trees that fall into this category: pome, oaks, sycamores, hickories and maples. They all have different characteristics such as their tolerance to freezing temperatures, resistance to insect attack and other factors. Some are even resistant to some diseases. However, none of them are truly “hardy”. That means they will still die if exposed to extreme cold.

Chicago hardy figs fall under the same classification as these other varieties. These trees do not need protection from frost and can survive it with no problems at all.

Chicago Hardy Fig Tree Pictures

Below you can see some pictures of Chicago hardy figs. You may notice that there are many different kinds of trees represented here. This is because there are two main species of fig trees found in the city: pome and oaks.

Both of these species grow well in Chicago winters. The only difference between them is the type of bark on their branches, which determines whether they require protection from frost or not.

Steps To Pruning A Fig Tree

1. Wait until the tree can survive through a light frost (late March-early April).

This is only possible if the temperature does not fall below 30 degrees Farenheit. If the temperature gets to around 32 degrees, you need to protect your tree with a blanket or place it in a frost-free place. If this does not happen, then you may lose all of your new growth the following year.

2. Cut back the growth on your tree to a height of about 10-12 inches.

You can also cut off any weak or dead branches (almost completely back to the trunk) at this time too. Cut back the branches so that the cut is flush with the branch itself. Make sure not to leave a stub, or the wound will not heal quickly.

3. After making your cuts, paint the exposed wood with pruning sealant.

Do not use paint that is intended for fresh cuts, as this can cause the wound to close up too quickly and trap moisture in the tree.

4. Wait 1-2 years and then repeat the process again to promote thicker growth along the trunk and larger branches.

What Is A Hardy Chicago Fig – Learn About Cold Tolerant Fig Trees - Image

What Is A Hardy Chicago Fig: Zone 5

There are many different types of chicago fig trees (ficus carnea). Of these, there are two main groups: pome and oaks.

Pome chicago fig trees tend to be smaller and more shrubby than their oak cousins. They also tend to have smooth peeling bark, compared to the flaky bark of their oak cousins. Pome trees are also known for dropping large amounts of fruit around their base over summer, which can be a nice touch if you like squirrels.

Oak chicago fig trees are the ones most people recognize. They are much larger than their pome cousins, growing up to 50 feet tall and wide. Their bark tends to be flaky and grayish brown.

Oak trees also have large figs, which hang on the tree over summer. The fruit is very sweet and can be eaten fresh, or preserved like any other fruit.

Which Kind Of Fig Tree Should I Get?

Both kinds are easy to grow and are hardy in zone 5 (Chicago). You can’t really go wrong with either kind. Pome trees tend to be smaller and easier to fit in a small space. They also seem to be less prone to losing their leaves in the fall, instead dropping lots of fruit all summer. However pome trees can get a bit scraggly looking if you don’t trim them back every year or so.

That leaves oak trees, which tend to be more common and widely available at nurseries. These trees have larger leaves that are easier to pollenate, as well as dropping large amounts of figs over summer. The downside is they tend to be a bit bigger than pome trees when full grown, and require yearly pruning to keep them from getting too out of hand.

Fertilizing Your New Tree

Pome and oak trees both like organic fertilizer (blood meal, bone meal, etc). You can pick this up at any garden center.

Sources & references used in this article:

The mid-domain effect and species richness patterns: what have we learned so far? by RK Colwell, C Rahbek, NJ Gotelli – The American Naturalist, 2004 – journals.uchicago.edu

Climatic variability and plant food distribution in Pleistocene Europe: Implications for Neanderthal diet and subsistence by W Popenoe – 1920 – Macmillan

The origin, nature, and genetic improvement of the avocado by BL Hardy – Quaternary Science Reviews, 2010 – Elsevier

Introducing urban food forestry: a multifunctional approach to increase food security and provide ecosystem services by BO Bergh – California Avocado society yearbook, 1992 – avocadosource.com

Genetic variability of the cold-tolerant Microtus oeconomus subspecies left behind retreating glaciers by AT Potts – 1917 – Texas Agricultural Experiment …

Relation between photosynthetic capacity and cold hardiness in Scots pine by KH Clark, KA Nicholas – Landscape Ecology, 2013 – Springer

Comparison of Postharvest Quality of Three Hardy Kiwifruit Cultivars during Shelf Life and Cold Storage by VH Sládkovičová, MJ Dąbrowski, D Žiaka, P Miklós… – Mammalian …, 2018 – Springer



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