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Southwest Yard and Garden

This column comes through the Grant County Extension Service out of New Mexico State University.

Southwest Yard and Garden

Question:
Two years ago, I planted a ‘Kadota’ fig thinking that it would be a tree. Both growing seasons it died back to the ground completely and sprouted new shoots each spring. The first year it only produced a few figs, but this year I harvested more than six dozen. What now? Should I prune out the old shoots that died the first year, if so, when?
- Sharon C., Albuquerque, NM

Answer:
The common fig (Ficus carica) is in the mulberry family and is native to temperate zones of Asia and the Mediterranean. Other Ficus species include several popular tropical houseplants that do not produce edible fruit, like the ficus tree (F. benjamina), fiddle-leaf fig (F. lyrata), and rubber plant (F. elastica). All of these species, including the common fig, generate a milky latex fluid that oozes out when the plant tissue tears, like when picking fruit. Some people find the latex to be caustic, so you may need to wear gloves when picking or pruning Ficus plants.

Southwest Yard and Garden

Part II: Winterizing Your Houseplants & Patio Plants

Question:

What steps do you recommend as we transition our houseplants back inside and prepare patio plants for the winter?

- Dan G., Bosque Farms, Valencia County, NM

Answer, Continued:

This week we’ll go into more detail about checking houseplants for bugs before they get too comfortable and their populations get out of control. For more tidbits on how to care for your patio plants and houseplants when you bring them inside for the winter, check out last week’s column at www.NMSUdesertblooms.blogspot.com.

Southwest Yard and Garden

Question:

What steps do you recommend as we transition our houseplants back inside and prepare patio plants for the winter?
- Dan G., Bosque Farms, Valencia County, NM

Answer:
Three weeks ago, I brought in my container patio plants that can’t tolerate the cold. These included the huge spider plant that began as a cutting from my grandmother’s huge spider plant, various succulents, and my prized pineapple plant that I started from a pineapple top a few years ago. Other plants, like the octopus agave, geraniums, and purple heart, are hardier so they can stay outside longer, but I brought them in last week rather than risk it. I like to bring cuttings of various favorites inside for the winter and keep them in water. That way, if we get a severe cold snap, I have some plant tissue to rely on in the spring for replanting.