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  • Intro, Cuttings, etc

    First time poster here... So I'll give a brief high level background.

    I have some fond memories as a child visiting my granny in Biloxi climbing her fig tree (no clue what type of fig - some type of dark, but I know I enjoyed them a lot!) and racing the birds eat them. I live in SE PA (zone 6B/7A). I've been gardening for 6-7 years or so. But have never grown figs. I have a very basic understanding (or so I think)... I have a place for two in-ground tree (maybe a third, but we'll see). It's on a south facing wall between the house and a extra-wide blacktop. So that area is a strong micro-climate (probably well into the 7A and bordering 7B).

    So I'm looking for some 6B hardy trees. I'd prefer to actually have trees instead of what turns out to be bushes. So it maybe that I'll need to keep them in containers for a few years for them to thicken. (Thoughts on that?) Has anyone tried building a darkly painted wall (wood or cinderblock) around the base of the tree?

    Since I only have room for a two trees (maybe a third), I have a few "requirements" (and I use that term loosely):
    1. Tasty - It doesn't have to be super sweet. Or less crunch. Or fruity. Or what have you. Just something that says, "Hey, I'm a fig. Enjoy my yummy fig-ness."
    2. I'd like something with some type of "story". Basically I want them to be something special. The trees will be in a high traffic area, so I anticipate them being a conversation piece. So not a Chicago Hardy, Brown Turkey, or even one of those LSU numbered ones.
    3. Fresh and dried - I'd like something that's not temperamental to dry and store. Not sure how to really quantify that.
    4. Productivity - something that is consistently produces each year. It doesn't have to be a bumper crop each year.
    5. Looks - ok, this isn't really a huge factor. But it'll be along the driveway where guests come and go. But I think most fig trees have attractive leaves anyway.

    As far as the pairings go: I'd like them to have different maturity times. Plus I read a suggestion at some point to have a dark and a white. And maybe some from different regions (French, Greek, Syrian...).

    Some that I'm interested in at this point: Violette de Bourdeaux, Ronde de Bourdeaux, Marseilles vs Black, Black Bethlehem, Improved Celeste, and/or Col de Dame Gris.

    Each of those I feel hits the above criteria. Do any of them have a better story that the others? Any varieties that I should add (and why)? What type of pairings would you recommend?

    And finally, I'd like to get started as soon as possible. Either through cuttings or already rooted at the right cost. Am I too late? Where can I get some?

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by bigbear; 02-16-2017, 11:20 AM.

  • #2

    What do you plan to do to protect them in the winter? Even with your protected area, temps can drop below 15 degrees for extended periods that could kill some of or all of the exposed wood.

    If they are in a high-visibility area you need to consider if you want to let them die to the ground each year and regrow, or if you want to cover them with something that might not be attractive. Your choice will affect what varieties will work for you. If you plan to let them die to the ground during bad winters, many varieties will not fruit that next year. If they are in ground, not potted, some later varieties like the CdD family might not give you much fruit as fall frosts will hit before much of the crop is ripe. Here in the north, if you are doing in-ground plants you want something that starts ripening rather early, especially if it represents 1/2 of your potential crop.

    If you have not tried a lot of varieties yet, maybe it would be good to try several in pots before committing to in-ground plantings. For example, I am getting less interested in some of the green honey figs, they do not seem to do as well for me with our rainy weather we often get in September.

    I definitely would recommend one of the 'Mt Etna' types for one of your inground trees - whether that is Chicago Hardy, Sal's(EL or Gene), Black Bethlehem, Takoma Violet or whatever - they are all delicious and among the most reliable for northern planters.

    Good luck with your fig planting!
    SW PA zone 6a


    • #3
      Ed gave you some pretty good information. I think you may be stretching it wanted to have a large tree, your zone will probably do better with a bush style. Rdb, MBVS, Navid's unknown dark Greek, and Teramo unknown would be good figs to try and they all have interesting things that you can talk about.
      There's quite a few members who live in your neck of the woods, I'm sure they'll have some good information to add and varietal input.
      Last edited by cis4elk; 02-16-2017, 12:04 PM.
      Calvin, Wish list is to finish working on the new house, someday.
      Bored? Grab a rake, paint roller, or a cordless drill and come over!


      • #4
        Hello bigbear ,

        Welcome to our fig forum community.

        eboone , Ed's comments and recommendations are similar to mine... Mount Etna type fig cultivars are better suited for in-ground in colder zones and some winter protection can almost ensure fig production before first frost. One of the hardier Adriatic Flavor group, https://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-h...-flavor-groups (Stella, Dalmatie, Adriatic JH, etc) may add variety. Good Luck.
        Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b


        • #5
          Welcome bigbear.

          You may want to consider the Dominick fig. It was discovered and distributed throughout the fig community by Jim Cooper (coop). It has a great story, is grown in ground in many of the northern states, is on many people's easy to root and best performers lists. I got 3 cuttings from DaveL late last fall and all three are going to town with roots and shoots.

          This second year in ground tree went though some fig dropping early but now has a few more that appear to be ripening. It was sweet with a figgy taste and my 9 and

          Log into Facebook to start sharing and connecting with your friends, family, and people you know.

          Wendy - zone 6b - Central Kentucky .....My Fig List
          WL - Bass' Favorite, Bordissot Negra Rimada


          • #6
            glad to have you in our forum I am down in south florida so no help only encouragement.


            • #7
              Welcome to the forum, there are quite a few people in SE PA. May I ask roughly where you are? I'm just outside of Reading.

              My top varieties so far for growing in the ground are Malta Black, Sal's GS, and Malta Black.
              SE PA
              Zone 6


              • #8
                Thanks for the responses and welcome. Disappointed, but not deterred on the 'tree vs bush'! (Just a fond childhood memory, guess my kids will have to climb the apple trees instead...) I plan on wrapping them with burlap and leaves. But am open to other ideas... Maybe not the first year though.

                And thanks for the links there. Figaholics is where I was planning on buying them.

                When do the Black Bethlehem and Dominick ripen? Maybe pair one of them with the MvB.


              • #9
                South of York just north of the MD line (Stewartstown area).
                Last edited by bigbear; 02-16-2017, 03:37 PM.


                • Kelby
                  Kelby commented
                  Editing a comment
                  You aren't far from bigbill, he is in Lancaster.

              • #10
                Welcome to the forum! Since anything you can't cover is likely to die and first year branches won't hold a large cat, I agree with having your kids climb the apple tree There are so many members in PA, NJ and MD that you shouldn't lack for advice. If not every tree has to have a story I'd recommend getting 1 tree that produces good breba so you'll have an early crop. You could always make up a story of tree-napping, sacrifice and treachery as to how it was originally held and distributed by the good king, stolen and all others destroyed, then rescued from the evil dictator's clutches.
                Bob C.
                Kansas City, MO Z6


                • bigbear
                  bigbear commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Definitely! I may need to brush up on my creativity and work in a mythic beast as well!

              • #11
                Welcome, this is a very helpful and informative community


                • #12
                  Welcome to you new home. I would suggest anything you are willing to take the time over winter to protect the tree from the cold.
                  Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
                  1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy 👼🏼.
                  2) This weeks ebay auctions.


                  • bigbear
                    bigbear commented
                    Editing a comment
                    About how much time does it take?

                  • Taverna78
                    Taverna78 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    For one or two trees not long at all. Maybe an hour for both of you really insulate well or if you plant tree on angle you can bend it down to ground and cover it that way. Look for overwintering figs post and you will see mine as well as others ways to over winter them. Is no hard

                • #13
                  bigbear --

                  I'm in Z6B (borderline 7) in RI. I've had great success with in-ground trees of Florea, Ronde de Bordeaux, Marseilles Black vs, Hardy Chicago, and Gene's Paradiso. I've also got immature trees of Lattarula, Brooklyn White, Sal's EL, Malta Black, Black Bethlehem, and Black Greek, all of which should produce this summer. All of that is just to say that I've been trying to answer your question.

                  If I had to choose three trees, I'd pick only trees that are cold hardy, productive, and early. I'd also try to touch 3 different bases taste-wise. My first choice would be Ronde de Bourdeaux. Second choice would be an early-ripening Mt Etna-ish variety, Marseilles Black vs or Malta Black. Third choice would be early sugar fig, Florea or Improved Celeste.

                  This question has been widely discussed; do some searching and you'll learn all you need to know.

                  Don't underestimate the issue of adequate protection.
                  Joe, Z6B, RI.


                  • bigbear
                    bigbear commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I think the RdB and MBvs are my first two. Thanks for adding your thoughts and opinions!

                • #14
                  Welcome Bigbear
                  Cutting sales will start Tuesday Nov 1 at 9:00 eastern


                  • #15
                    I live in @@@@erson, MD (zone 7a). For in-ground figs I agree with other's suggestions above of Mt. Etna types, Florea, Improved Celeste, Malta Black, and Ronde de Bordeaux. As far as green figs go, Tony in WV ("mountainfigs") has had success with Brooklyn White. I had Adriatic JH growing in-ground in Rockville and it ripened some nice figs; it could be borderline for your area though because it is longer season.
                    D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
                    WL: Castillon, Fort Mill Dark, White Baca


                    • bigbear
                      bigbear commented
                      Editing a comment

                  • #16
                    Just the other day I showed my son a full-sized fig tree online, as big as three apple trees maybe side by side, loaded with big green apple-sized figs. He was impressed, had only seen my small scarecrow-like trees in pots. He said, "Grow something like that." I said, "Around here, winter usually kills everything to the ground." He said: "Find a way." And when I looked at him, he said again: "Find a way." Which is what I always tell him, like when he's doing homework or something. So that was annoying, as in, amusing. Why not drop a "parachute" on it every year and put some heat underneath for the dangerous cold spells. If I had only one or two fig trees, I might consider it. Since I have many small trees in pots on a limited lot, I don't see it happening. But I don't doubt that there is a way.

                    What Joe is doing in Rhode Island with protection is impressive. And others have a lot of knowledge on this. If you really want to go in ground, I would look at that. But where you are, if you have a big shed, maybe a bit of heat, and a big mobile tree pot, then you can grow a fig tree as large as any shed in a pot and trundle it out into position each year. Or for in-ground, I would consider constructing a temporary slightly heated structure that can be quickly assembled and disassembled each year, maybe a big tent. Though not if there are aesthetic concerns of course. I think there's a way. This guy found one for growing a fig "jungle" near Cleveland:

                    Tony WV 6b


                  • #17
                    Welcome, mate! Another Pennsylvanian!
                    Zone 7A - Philadelphia
                    Flavor Profiles & Variety List / Facebook / YouTube / Blog


                    • #18
                      Welcome bigbear, I'm in the south but you'll get some great advice here. Good luck on keeping Only 3 trees, the fig bug usually gets the best of us and we end up with many varieties.
                      Brenda East Tn. Zone 6B


                      • bigbear
                        bigbear commented
                        Editing a comment
                        When I first got chickens, they said to plan assuming that the flock size will double. Sounds like figs are the same!

                      • Bren55
                        Bren55 commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I'm afraid double is long in the past now. Oh well, figs just taste sooooo good!

                    • #19
                      Yay! Another Pennsylvanian. A fellow "big", too. You'll get great advice here. I agree with Steve's ( rewton) and Kelby's recommendations for in ground selections. Welcome!


                      • bigbear
                        bigbear commented
                        Editing a comment

                    • #20
                      Tony - Zone 6A
                      WL- Good Health, a 60 lb Striped Bass, a Boone and Crockett Typical Buck, bushels of ripe Black Madeira figs, bushels of ripe Hachiya and other tasty Diospyros Kaki Persimmons


                      • #21
                        welcome, I'm a little northeast of you but i also echo the recommendations of steve and kelby for your inground trees.

                        Good luck in keeping your collection small

                        There are many enablers here...
                        Kevin (Eastern MA - Zone 5b/6a)