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Staking Fig Tree

    It’s widely known that young wood on fig trees is weak. As strong as they are fully developed, fig trees are susceptible to breaking early on. One thing people always jump to is staking young fig trees. But do they really help the tree in the long run?

    Staking is a viable option to protect fig trees from wind, assist their growth, a good alternative to pruning in many situations, and a way of correcting a tree’s shape. However, staking can cause a fig tree to stay weak if used in the wrong situations.

    Some of you may ask if staking is even worth it.

    Should I Stake My Fig Tree?

    Deciding to stake a fig tree can be difficult because it has pros and cons in every situation. The cons prevail in the long run most of the time, but staking can sometimes save your fig tree from dying early on.

    Staking is often associated with wind protection and adding stability to the growth. We see beautiful tall fig trees grown by stake support, but in reality, they are not healthy fig trees.

    Once the stake is removed, such trees will be put under lots of stress, resulting in bad yields and multiple sorts of injuries later on.

    Sometimes fig trees staked for support will be staggered in their growth for years because they would need to put all of their energy into reinforcing the trunk before supporting new weight from the crown.

    Unless there is a storm coming and you have no way of sheltering your fig trees, staking shouldn’t be used as a support method without any other purpose.

    It will only cause your fig tree to grow weak and even more susceptible to injury.

    I stake my fig trees only when I want to adjust the tree’s shape or spread branches instead of pruning so the tree can absorb more sunlight.

    On rare occasions, I stake a fig tree for support because a branch grew too large during the season and disrupted the balance of a small potted tree.

    However, even when I stake a fig tree to prevent it from falling over, I try to correct the form simultaneously to get rid of the stake as soon as possible.

    At What Size Should a Fig Tree Be Staked?

    The decision to stake a fig tree depends not only on the goal of staking but also on the size of a tree.

    Most answers you will get will tell you very small to medium fig trees should be staked.

    I would argue that staking is an option only when the tree is over 3 feet (1 m) tall. Before that, you shouldn’t have any of the problems I mentioned earlier with your fig tree.

    Staking a fig tree before that initial growth is complete only serves to support its stability, which is counterproductive in the long run.

    Therefore, you shouldn’t do it.

    How Do You Fix a Leaning Fig Tree?

    Before doing anything, I like to analyze why is my fig tree falling over? Or, maybe not falling over, but tending to do so even in the weak wind.

    It happens most of the time due to disproportionate branch size between one side and the other. Sometimes, even a tree trunk can be leaning to one side.

    A logical thing to do is stake the fig tree so it doesn’t fall over. However, that’s not enough because you don’t want to keep it staked forever.

    Keeping a fig tree staked for a long time will only leave the tree trunk undeveloped compared to the size of the crown.

    Instead, you want to stake it in a way that will force the tree to lean the other way. Sometimes even dig a portion of its rootball and rotate to the other side.

    One thing I like to do with huge branches creating disbalance is to tie them so they twist in an upward position towards the other side of the fig tree.

    Once the branches on the other side grow large enough, I can bend the same branch down again to open the tree to the sun.

    You can tie a fig tree with high tension to really force it to correct its balance. During the growing season, fig’s wood is tough and flexible.

    Small to medium fig trees usually take around 1-2 seasons of staking in several different positions to correct their form and balance completely.

    Staking Fig Trees Instead of Pruning

    Once a fig tree is medium-sized, it’s time to prune it so the main limbs will split into smaller branches at the height you desire.

    However, if they are growing upwards and too close to each other, to begin with, you will end up with a bushy tree top that won’t absorb much sunlight.

    I like to stake the branches to bend them away from the tree’s base so that I spread them away from each other and bring them down.

    If a fig tree is not large, spreading branches apart by staking will completely remove the need for pruning because they will naturally split.

    They split earlier because I put the main limbs more horizontal by staking them, and trees always want to have multiple branches growing straight upwards, especially if there is a gap of empty crown space there.

    You can delay pruning using this method on larger fig trees, resulting in more figs in ongoing and the next season.

    Staking Fig Trees To Prevent Breaking From Strong Wind

    As I already mentioned, staking fig trees to support them against wind should be done only when absolutely necessary. Although, that’s kind of often when young fig trees are exposed to strong winds.

    Which leads us to our next question.

    Does Staking Helps Fig Trees Develop Strong Trunks?

    The problem is a fig tree relying on a stake against natural conditions won’t grow strong. I’ve seen staked fig trees become more and more susceptible to wind breakage as they grow.

    Fig trees grow strongest when they are left to grow on their own, without any protection. But when a heavy storm comes your way, you can stake them to prevent breaking.

    That way, the tree’s trunk will grow strong, and the tree will slowly adapt to wind stress while at the same time you protect it by staking in crucial moments.

    Wrapping Up

    I believe staking is one of the most misused and overused techniques on fig trees. I guess inexperienced growers simply have the wrong idea about what staking does to the tree.

    Reading web articles from mainstream websites doesn’t help much because they copy the same misinformation from each other.

    Hopefully, I’ve managed to picture well what staking fig trees is all about.