Fig breaking dormancy too early


I bought a small fig tree (about 1 meter tall) in a container last summer. It lost its leaves in the fall and I brought it indoors for the winter. It is in complete darkness, around 16C. I water it occasionally so the roots don’t dry out. I noticed a few days ago that it is beginning to make leaves. I understand it is much too early for it to wake up. I don’t know what to do. I can relocate it to my attached garage where it’s cooler (-5C to 10C), but I’m afraid this will damage it. Please help!


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.

As you are aware, pot grown figs can be stored indoors in a dormant state. Ideally, you want somewhere cool and dark, an attached garage, cold cellar, or unheated basement, can all be good places to overwinter the plant. Ideally, the temperature should be between 7°C (45°F) and about -3°C (27°F). The reason that your fig tree broke dormancy is because the storage area is warmer and brighter than needed to keep it dormant.

The problem now becomes that once the tree breaks dormancy it is difficult to get the tree back into dormancy. Your best course of action is to put your plant in a cooler sunroom with bright light so that it develops compact growth. The important factor to keep in mind now that your fig tree is actively growing is that your tree is susceptible to the cold. So, whatever location you choose it cannot be cold enough for your tree to freeze.

When it’s time to move the fig plants outdoors in the spring, put them in a shaded location to start with.

Steven Biggs has an excellent website entitled Grow Figs where you will find videos and more information on overwintering figs.