Chicago hardy fig #642289 - Ask Extension


Chicago hardy fig #642289

Asked May 28, 2020, 9:58 AM EDT

Planted fig bought from Starkbros. April 2019. Did well, had about 30 figs we rubbed off. We pruned it back for winter, covered with burlap and then a tarp.  This spring uncovering it there was Orange rust on the bark and smut at the pruning cut going down the trunk.  I'm concerned our other trees will be affected (8 Apple, 2 cherry, 2 pear, 2 peach).  Also, we still want a fig but not sure about planting in the same spot. Any help is appreciated.  Thank you so much

Wayne County Michigan

Expert Response

'Chicago Hardy' is considered to be one of the hardiest edible figs. Its stems are hardy to 10 degrees Fahrenheit and the roots are hardy to 20 degrees below zero. It can be grown in zones 6 and warmer, and in zone 5 if situated in a warmer microclimate and given protection with a heavy mulch when dormant. Stems that die back will resprout in spring and will produce fruit on the new wood. It may also be grown in a pot and brought indoors or kept in a cool garage. It has large, leathery leaves that have a cordate base and 3 to 5 lobes. The medium-sized fruit has light brown to deep purple skin with sweet, pink flesh and ripens in late summer and early fall. It will grow 10 to 15 ft. tall and 9 to 12 ft. wide although it may only grow 3 to 4 ft. tall in cold climates if it dies back. This fig is also known as 'Bensonhurst Purple.'  No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for root knot nematodes, scale, aphids, mealybugs and spider mites. Leaf spots, rust and blight may occur. Fruit can become a mess if not promptly harvested.

While touted as hardy in zone 5, consider it marginally hardy and it should have protection from winter winds. Winter 2019 saw the coldest temperature ever recorded in Michigan.  Just one bout with something like that would do in the marginally hardys, some hardys as well.  Consider a large container that can be moved out of harms way in winter.  Orange rust, usually seen in brambles only, should not be a problem for your fruit trees but shouldn't have been a problem for your fig either. Read more here:

When plants are stressed, for any reason, they become targets for pests &  diseases.

Good luck! 

John Harville Replied May 29, 2020, 5:56 AM EDT

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