Two years ago I purchased and grew a wonderfully beautiful brown turkey fig tree in south Toronto, Canada. Alas, it died as I overwintered in in an unheated garage which I thought might be sufficient. Last year, I purchased a Mission fig which I overwintered indoors. Since it was warm and received some light, it grew, but terribly leggy and anemic. This spring, I allowed it to grow without pruning, leaving its spindly and lanky growth alone. It provided me with 6 edible fruits.

My question is:

Do I attempt to again winter this tree in my unheated garage? This time, I would take more effort with its insulation. This way, I will more likely recreate a better dormancy period in hopes of more fruits next year. In addition, since my tree is only about 5' tall with about 8 branches, would now be the ideal time to prune since I believe that they fruit on new growth? is the Mission hardier than the Turkey? (It was also a particularly bad winter when I lost my Turkey).


Do I again bring it in the house, pare it down to fit, and keep new growth at bay?


The hardest but likely best method?:

Dig a trench and bury the bugger?

I'm thinking @kevinsky might chime in here. fingers crossed. @stormy, I know you know the answer but you're way too warm to know the plight of Torontonians.

2 Answers 2


I know Toronto winters they are unpredictable at best. There are often snow storms and temperatures worthy of zone 5 but not for long. You did follow recommended procedure by putting it in a cool place but as they say in real estate: "Location is everything". Specifically, do you know what temperature ranges you find in your garage?

I tried my garage in Zone 5a for overwintering plants and found that it reached outside air temperature quickly. The amount of waste heat generated by the house was not enough to change the temperature inside the garage.

The optimum temperature is around 0 degrees celsius but Toronto is often colder than this. If you don't have an outdoor greenhouse and have to use your garage then try these steps:

  • wait until cold temperatures in the fall cause leaf drop
  • bring into the garage when temperatures start hovering around the 0 to 5 degrees Celsius
  • buy four sheets of styrofoam SM. This common insulator cuts easily with an exacto knife and is compact to store. It comes in this size: 2" x 4' x 8'.
  • construct a booth or cabinet using the Styrofoam.
  • if you are a fan of Red Green duct tape will immediately come to mind for attaching the sheets
  • the next step requires a dry insulator. Oak leaves are perfect as they dry and curl but other types of dry fall leaves can be used to fill up the cabinet. Bubble wrap or styrofoam peanuts will do as well but are bulky when stored for next year.
  • pop a top on your cabinet: good to go

This way your fig will be insulated, dry and will not receive any light.

  • Check for water in late winter
  • bring the fig out of storage to a sheltered spot a few weeks before final frost
  • pruning happens now to encourage more new growth
  • water it thoroughly when it starts to bud out
  • watch out for low temperature weather and bring indoors overnight if required
  • 1
    Kevinsky = superman. Thank you. Oops. I know thanks are frowned upon but... thanks ! Will do exactly that!
    – Brenn
    Oct 31, 2016 at 0:39
  • And your Red Green props. = gold.
    – Brenn
    Oct 31, 2016 at 0:46

Thanks for the tears of laughter...you are bad. Zone 8, I've had figs grown in zone 5 but like you said totally anemic. Have you thought about getting REAL grow lights in that garage and controlling the heat/temperature so that it is constantly between 60 and 70? Maybe 55 to 70 degrees F. Still wiping tears from my eyes!! Wow how refreshing!

Pull myself together here...the only way to go is getting yourself a little greenroom. Insulated, temperature and humidity controlled and a decent grow light with BALLAST or two...seriously. Stability with temperature, humidity, sterile environment, fantastic grow lights and do not forget FANS. The ability to pull fresh air in and pull old air out. Your plants should MOVE in the wind from the fans. And I firmly believe plants need a routine with light and dark. Check into the daylight/night hours for optimum fruiting with figs. Gees. And major grins...

  • That would be expensive, though.
    – J. Chomel
    Nov 1, 2016 at 7:13
  • Oh @stormy, how I'd love to do this. Alas, my garage space is limited and I don't like figs that much. :). Perhaps I'll reconsider my winter greenhouse rental again should I become too lazy to build the kevinsky fortress of Fig fortification.
    – Brenn
    Nov 2, 2016 at 1:05
  • major guffaws! who are you? Interesting...!!
    – stormy
    Nov 2, 2016 at 5:37

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