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Moreton Bay Fig – a seven year update

Amanda Commins

Amanda Commins

February 8, 2021

I love Moreton Bay fig trees (Ficus macrophylla) and have been trying to grow some on a rural property in Orange Springs, WA.

In March 2014 I managed to source four tube stock Moreton Bay fig trees from Daleys Fruit Tree Nursery in Kyogle, NSW. All four were planted out in Orange Springs (approximately 100kms north of Perth) in September 2014. The original post, dated 21 March 2015, can be found here.

 

The figs when they arrived in March 2014,  well packaged-from Daleys Nursery

 

It has been a bit of a bumpy ride since then and I have previously posted the following updates of my growing journey;

So, time for another update – where are we now?

February 2021

I am happy to advise that all four figs are still alive. Only two remain where they were originally planted but these two finally appear to be getting established. They aren’t huge (yet) but the foliage is quite dense and this is definitely the healthiest and happiest they have looked since they were planted.

These recent photos are of the two figs that remain where they were planted in 2014. Neither of these figs receive any additional watering now – rainfall only. For reference, the tree guard panels are 2.1m high by 2.4m wide and protect the trees from inquisitive cattle.

 

 

Frost was problematic during the early years and the young trees suffered without adequate protection. Early last winter we decided to attach shade cloth to the eastern, northern and top sides of the tree guards to stop the morning sun hitting any frosted leaves. Whilst I’d love to say that this system has been highly successful I can’t – not because it didn’t work but because we had a relatively mild winter in 2020 with no frosts! We have left the shade cloth on for summer and will keep it in place for as long as the size of the figs permits.

 

 

Over summer the shade cloth to the east protects the figs against the hot dry easterly winds. However, they are still exposed to the hot westerly sun and the hot south-westerlies for the few hours until the cooler sea breeze arrives. This year we have days of relentless easterly winds so I think they shade cloth has definitely been beneficial.

The third fig was failing badly in its original location and, after recuperation in a large pot for an extended period, was replanted closer to the house on a sandy rise above the river flats. It has been in that location since January 2018. I can’t say that it has raced ahead as I was hoping. However, it is doing ok and is probably still settling in. It was also protected with shade cloth over winter and has the benefit of regular watering from the reticulation system.

The fourth and final fig has also been dug up since my last update (due to it doing poorly in its original location) and is currently in a large pot. It definitely needs to go into the ground and I am looking for an appropriate location on the side of a hill (which we have) with the idea of really encouraging those beautiful buttress roots to develop.

I just looked back at my original post from almost six years ago and found the following comment “I’d like to think that in five to 10 years we will have nice size trees (say 3-4m or more)”. Well, the five year mark has passed and we haven’t quite made the grade. However the 10 year mark is looking a bit more promising. Here’s hoping!

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