I knew it was a fig tree, but still in the winter, when my grandmother wrapped it in burlap and tied it with string, it spooked me. It looked too much like a person, the string in all the right places to form a bound head, waist, and legs.
But in the summer, I loved the fresh figs right off the tree.
So a couple of years ago when I saw the potted fig tree, with three figs on it, on sale at the nursery in Vermont I bought it. The figs ripened and tasted as good as I remembered them.
In the fall, after the leaves turned yellow and fell off, I cut the branches back and put the potted fig tree in the basement, just like the guy at the nursery told me to do. A fig tree could live though a Long Island winter when wrapped in burlap, but not through winter in Upstate New York.
The next spring I transplanted the fig tree into a bigger pot, but this spring, when I brought it up from the basement, I saw how thick the roots were. Water barely penetrated the soil. The tree hardly grew all summer. It was root-bound.
So today, I went online, watched a few videos, and read up on what to do with a rootbound tree.
First I pruned it back to a single trunk, then I cut away and shook out the roots as best I could. After researching it, I realized how bad the tree was. The roots were growing on top of the soil and wrapping themselves around the trunk of the tree.
Most of what I read recommended transplanting the tree into a bigger pot. But if the pot was any bigger it would be too heavy for me to carry up and down into the basement every year. So I trimmed the roots the way I had read about, making the root ball smaller.
Then I added new potting soil to the same pot and planted the tree back in it.
I don’t know if my fig tree will survive my root trimming, but I had to do something or it would surely have died anyway. I’ll keep it watered and leave it outside for a while to keep from shocking it anymore.
When it gets cold I’ll put it back in the basement and hope that next spring when I bring it back up, it blooms like the rest of the trees.