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  • New to figs

    Am looking to add fig trees to my slowly growing backyard orchard and was wondering what varieties do best in SE mich. area? How much work are they to grow in a colder climate.
    Garden Pics

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum.

    Here is a link that Kelby wrote about cold hardy cultivars...

    Your best bet is to grow your trees in pots, that way you can bring them into an unheated garage or basement when it gets really cold.

    Good luck, and get ready to catch the "fig bug"


    • #3
      What amazing garden pictures--you've certainly got a green thumb! With your current setup, you could really experiment quite a bit. I started with an established tree, and there are several online vendors who sell rooted cuttings. Check out some of the stick note topics for newbies.
      Zone 7a in Virginia


      • #4
        Take time to be selective. Now that you are looking you will find all sorts of figs available. Resist the temptation to buy or trade for anything.

        Welcome to the fig world


        Really happy with what I have.


        • #5
          welcome to the forum. You can either grow them in ground or in pots.

          If you grow them in-ground they will need winter protection or they will die back to ground every year.
          Kevin (Eastern MA - Zone 5b/6a)


          • #6
            Thanks Sarina and thank you for the other replies. I certainly love to garden it is surely an addiction. As of now I am only looking for a single fig tree do they need a pollinator or will one suffice?
            Garden Pics


            • #7
              Welcome to the forum. I enjoyed looking at your Garden Pics from your sig line. Very Nice! Thank you for putting them up. Common figs do not need pollinators. You might find that you are wrong, one will not suffice. How many will suffice has yet to be determined.
              Eatonton, GA zone 7b/8a


              • #8
                Common figs require no pollination. The sole pollinator for them is a wasp that will not live in you're area anyway.

                Welcome to the forum, you will find tons of knowledge, know how and enables here. 😉
                Scott - Colorado Springs, CO - Zone 4/5 (Depending on the year) - Elevation 6266ft

                “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” – Bill Mollison


                • SmyFigs
                  SmyFigs commented
                  Editing a comment
                  The operative phrase is "enablers"!

              • #9
                Welcome to the forum. Nice photos. Your operation looks top notch. Figs should fit in nicely with what you are doing.
                Jerry, Canyon Lake TX 8b


                • #10
                  Piper, thank you for the photos. That's a clean & mean looking garden man, I love it! Your beautiful garden photos helped me figure out what I need to do with an area for my Natchez blackberries. Also great seeing you share your passion with the next generation. If they don't know, they won't grow.



                  • Thepodpiper
                    Thepodpiper commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Thanks, I have three boys 25, 23, and 9 who all grew up in the garden and they and all there friends can't wait till summer every year. The 70 ft. berry trellis is a big hit. Natchez is a keeper.

                • #11
                  Originally posted by jmaler View Post
                  Figs should fit in nicely with what you are doing.
                  That is what I am afraid of, I can't ever stop at just one of anything. Putting in 160 varieties of peppers this year and adding another 10 apple trees. And that is just for starters. I told myself last year that I would not grow any peppers but have already sown 73 varieties of chinenses. Are there dwarf varieties of figs?
                  Garden Pics


                  • #12
                    I have seen you on GW, welcome. I'm in SE MI too. I'm fairly new to figs too. What do you want to do? Plant in ground or in pots? In ground most will die to the roots every year so you have to have cultivars that will produce from the roots. They do exist. You will still need cold hardy types for containers too. Nice garden, you have some room! Wish i had more room. My garden and various photos can be seen here.


                    • Thepodpiper
                      Thepodpiper commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Andrew, Love what you got going on. Are those your mushroom logs? Thats another project for this year either a mushroom bed or logs.

                      It looks to me by what I have just seen online that most fig trees are naturally small or Is this because they need to be pruned every spring?

                    • drew51
                      drew51 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Those are mushroom logs, but they are not mine. I want to try it and needed that photo to show somebody how you do it. I have trees that size I could use at my cottage. I have yet to do it though. I want to try next spring. Most photos are mine, the bonsai peppers are not mine either. I do have bonsai peppers though. They do not look as nice, well at least not yet! Mine are about 3 years old.

                      Violette de Bordeaux is a dwarf fig, but the main crop ripens late and may not make it till frost. Breba crop should be fine though.
                      Figs do not have to be pruned. You can prune to any shape though. Most as you say are small and you can control size by pruning. A few are big plants if you let them. So I would look for cold hardiness and early crop. I'm trying a lot, but lack experience really to give much advice on figs. I recently ordered Danny's Delight which is a found fig, and it was found in lower Michigan. Florea is also super hardy but so far the figs are rather bland. They can improve with age, so hoping they do! Hardy Chicago and Celeste are hardy too. Many are worth trying here in pots. Desert King, many of the Syrian figs, Ronde de Bordeaux, Battaglia Green, Marseilles Black vs, Violette de Bordeaux, Sal's, Excel Fig, and Maltese Falcon. These last two are very good figs. Many others too.
                      St. Rita
                      Salem dark
                      Brooklyn Dark
                      Violette de Sollies
                      Lebanese Red fig
                      Abou George
                      Syrian Long

                      These are the figs I'm looking at trying. Oh figs are easy to grow compared to the stuff we grow. I could use help with watermelons!! I have had not much luck!
                      Last edited by drew51; 01-21-2016, 01:36 PM.

                    • aphahn
                      aphahn commented
                      Editing a comment
                      drew51. Try Blacktail Moutian watermelon. It was bread for early ripening in cool climates.

                  • #13
                    I am looking to grow in pots. Would love to grow some smaller varieties.
                    Garden Pics


                    • Taverna78
                      Taverna78 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      You say that now..... I give you tis time next year after you do some looking and tasting....

                    • COGardener
                      COGardener commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Any variety can be maintained at any size you want with simple pruning.

                  • #14
                    Welcome to you new home...

                    You can grow any fig you like..... Is how you care for it depends on its lifespan.
                    Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
                    1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy 👼🏼.
                    2) This weeks ebay auctions.


                  • #15
                    When you are growing in pots the size of the tree will be determined to some extent by the size of the container. Most people end up with a final size of 10-25 gallons or so. You could go larger but moving it becomes a problem. I'm not sure if there really are "dwarf" varieties of figs but there are definitely varieties that grow more slowly, and in a more compact form, than others. Petite Negra comes to mind. Ventura and the Stella/Vasilika Sika (Belleclare)/Dalmatie family of figs are also possibilities.
                    D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
                    WL: Castillon, Fort Mill Dark, White Baca


                    • #16
                      Welcome to the forum but be careful, everyone here is crazy but about figs and that WillsC guy just be weary. I'm normal but have a few figs.
                      Nothing in the world takes the place of growing citrus till figs come along. Ray City, Ga. Zone 8 b.


                      • Taverna78
                        Taverna78 commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Please define normal cugino😘

                      • SmyFigs
                        SmyFigs commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Normal?! XD

                      • Hershell
                        Hershell commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Normal. I'm not addicted to figs. I only want the ones I don't have or maybe two.

                    • #17
                      Welcome! Some figs have different desirable traits, so if you should fail to stop at having just one (as many of us here have done) you might want Desert King for its great breba crop (first crop), then Chicago Hardy for its cold hardiness, and Adriatic JH for its ability to still taste good later in the season when ripened in rainy weather or even when not fully ripe at all. And on it goes.
                      Bay Area, CA (zone: 9B)


                      • #18
                        I may not have the best security because when I tried to look at the link, I get hit with sales pop-ups
                        Hi my name is Art. I buy fig cuttings-so I can grow more figs-so I can sell more figs-so I can buy more fig cuttings-so I can grow more figs....


                        • Thepodpiper
                          Thepodpiper commented
                          Editing a comment
                          cj, try adgaurd adblocker. its free

                      • #19
                        What is the smallest pot that can be used for a fig? I'm sure that there is a variety or two that is taylor made for growing in a small pot? I realize that there are many variables but something that will grow in my zone.

                        Are there any good fig databases with descriptions and pics like there are for Toms and peppers ?
                        Garden Pics


                      • #20
                        Welcome! Ultimately you'll want your figs in 7 - 25 gal containers and since you won't need more than 30 plants (2 each of 18 varieties, maybe 40? :- ) that should be pretty doable. Ronde de Bordeau and Florea ripen early. Desert King, as the Lovely and Talented Sarah pointed out, has good breba. Long d'Aout has good breba. If you search for good breba there's a thread or 2 on it. Good luck in your selections!

                        I wouldn't plant anything in the ground unless you have a back up plant in a pot and even then not until it's over 5 years old. When you put it in the ground use a site with excellent drainage and plant the fig as deeply as possible. The more wood is underground and the deeper it is the more likely your plant will be able to come back after winter. Mulch is always a good idea.
                        Bob C.
                        Kansas City, MO Z6


                        • #21

                          "Ultimately you'll want your figs in 7 - 25 gal containers and since you won't need more than 30 plants (2 each of 18 varieties, maybe 40? :- ) that should be pretty doable."

                          Harborseal, you must of either misunderstood my post saying I only wanted to grow 1 fig or you already know me better than I know myself. You already know that I can't grow 1 of anything.

                          So what is the best way to get into this fig growing addiction? Trading for cuttings and rooting them myself, buying from a reputable seller or maybe even starting them from seed? Which is the best way to acquire a wider assortment of varieties? (I mean one plant).
                          Garden Pics


                          • #22
                            Edible Landscaping in VA has good rooted cuttings--Monticello uses them for their plants. You can get everything from a rooted cutting to a larger established dormant tree. http://ediblelandscaping.com/products/shrubs/Figs/
                            Zone 7a in Virginia


                            • #23
                              Welcome to the forum.

                              Figs don't grow true and take longer to fruit if they do at all from seed so I wouldn't recommend planting seeds unless by one you mean that you want to trial a ton of figs.

                              Cuttings are a good, cheaper option to get several varieties. Looking at your amazing setup, you shouldn't have much trouble rooting figs.

                              Plants are nice if you have the money and want instant gratification. But figs can even fruit their first year from cuttings if the are happy and most will fruit their second.

                              Cuttings are generally available for cheap on the forums or ebay. There is also a link to recommended vendors in the sticky.

                              Just make sure to stick to common (persistent) and San pedro (for the early breba crop only ). Caprifigs and Smyrna figs won't fruit for you.

                              Good luck.
                              Last edited by don_sanders; 01-22-2016, 09:02 AM.
                              Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Verdolino, Black Celeste


                              • #24
                                Kentucky Zone 6b


                                • #25
                                  Dale, now I remember you contacting me on Growing Fruit. Go back up in this thread I commented on what to try. Many people offer cuttings here and on f4f forum. usually only wanting a minimal fee to cover postage and handling. I have some extra cuttings I rooted of Excel, Hardy Chicago and I think O'Rourke? I'll trade for future tomato or pepper seeds, or scion. You must have lights, they need lights for now. I kinda would like to pass them on now! i was going to offer some up here or on Growing Fruit in the spring, but they are rather common, good for new growers. All decent figs. I still have stuff to offer in spring. Anyway pm me if interested. maybe you could swing by and pick them up, or I'll drop them off. I could mail too, but feel best to wait til spring. I'm rooting more cuttings and need the room! I would not mind driving them over. PM me if interested, no biggy if you want to pass on it, I'm going to give them to somebody sooner or later. Google the cultivar names to get info on them. Liked this video on excel
                                  First breba from my Excel (UCD) fig tree.

                                  Here is info I collected on these cultivars

                                  Excel Fig - Medium sized, yellow fruit with amber pulp. Sweet rich flavor. Resistant to splitting even under adverse conditions. Superb, all purpose fig. Introduced in 1975. Considered very hardy.
                                  Origin W.B. Storey, Riverside, 1975. Large, skin is yellow, flesh light amber. Fruits practically neckless, blocky. Very sweet. Excellent, all-purpose fig. Light breba crop. Similar to Kadota but more productive. Tree vigorous, even rank. Does well in most parts of California.

                                  O'Rourke Fig - The O'Rourke fig, a recent LSU release, produces a good crop of medium-sized brown to bronze turbinate figs with a partially closed eye and sweet amber to strawberry red flesh. O'Rourke was selected as one of the elite figs from Dr. Ed O'Rourke's breeding program for production, growth habit, hardiness, and disease resistance.
                                  O'Rourke was selected from a group of seedlings from a cross of Celeste X C1. C1 is a designation given a caprifig obtained from the University of California at Riverside in 1950. The cross was made in 1956 and an individual plant selection made by E.N. O'Rourke in 1960 and tested as L57-11-103. This cultivar is named to honor Dr. Ed O'Rourke's (Professor) service to the fruit industry.
                                  The fruit stalk is longer on O'Rourke than most common fig cultivars.
                                  The eye (ostiole) of O'Rourke is not completely closed when fully ripe compared with a closed eye of Celeste. Internal color is golden with red near center of fruit when soft ripe. Fruit ripen before Celeste or approximately the last week of June in Baton Rouge, LA. O'Rourke fruit hangs down when fully ripe. The main crop of O'Rourke ripens over a 15 day period, which is comparable to Celeste. But ripens earlier than Celeste and continues into fall.
                                  O'Rourke is more resistant to defoliation caused by the fig leaf rust [Cerotelium fici and leaf spot complex than Celeste.
                                  O'Rourke is an excellent cultivar that was developed at LSU during their breeding program under Ed O'Rourke. Hence the name of the fig. This cultivar produces medium brown/tan (with red stripes) fruit with amber colored interior. The fruit are quite juicy and pleasantly sweet. The eye is closed and will sometimes drop with honeydew. This important trait allows the fruit to stand up to extremely adverse weather conditions. Whether it be rain, dew or excessive humidity this cultivar doesn't spilt and the flavor doesn't get wasted out. It's a top quality light fig in both taste and productivity.

                                  Hardy Chicago - A brown fig, rich and sweet. Good for potted culture, although it is our most dependable outdoor fig. Hardy Chicago ripens its figs from August until fall frost and will have some fruit in July. Has produced as many as 100 pints of figs in one season. Does extremely well in NC and we send this one to enthusiasts up north, because of its early fruiting tendency. Success will vary with every location, so be sure to give it the warmest, most protected place. It's our best fig and came to our attention in the 1970's when cuttings for propagation came from Fred Borne, a North American Fruit Explorer member. Cuttings were supplied to him from a man from Chicago with a "U" shaped house, from a bush he had protected for some years. Without protection the mature bushes top would die back from winter cold, but sprouted from the roots and ripened some figs at the end of the season. Most fig varieties do not share this trait. Usually, a fig's above ground growth must survive the winter in order to fruit the following season. Leaves are the 5-lobed type and the plant has a bush form in the east. Space 8' to 10' circle in Zone 7. Zones 6-8.
                                  Hardy Chicago
                                  Additional Information
                                  Hardy Chicago Medium to small; black, sweet and very rich. Will produce a crop after freezing of top growth. (002)
                                  Brown, rich and sweet. Good for potted culture. In 1999, we picked the first ripe outdoor figs on July 31st. Does extremely well in N.C. and we send this one to enthusiasts up north, because of its early fruiting tendency. Zones 6-8 (003)
                                  Fred Born acquired this variety from an Italian grower in Chicago a number of years ago and has shared it with other enthusiasts. It has also become a commercial variety for it is an excellent fig. (Note: Hardy Chicago does resemble Brown Turkey, but the leaves and fruit are distinguishable. It is very hardy. The fruit is small to medium with blackish-purple skin and strawberry pulp. Small eye. Pyriform with long slender neck. Leaf: base calcarate; 5 lobes, lyrate. Very good fresh, dried or in preserves. Responds well to oiling (a method of inducing ripening of immature fruit in late Fall) . Well-adapted in the Eastern U.S. and deserves trials in the Northwest. Last summer I confirmed to my own satisfaction that the commercial variety offered by Edible Landscaping is identical with Fred's variety. Synonym: Chicago Hardy. (006)
                                  A small- to medium-sized fig with light brown to violet skin and strawberry pink pulp. Small eye. Pyriform with a long, slender neck. Excellent flavor and very hardy. Resembles Brown Turkey. (004)
                                  A light reddish brown fig with very good flavor. Very good grower in Canada. (013)
                                  Hardy Chicago Medium Large, Purple-Brown, Dark-Red Center (2crops) (012)
                                  Skin and flesh colors: Brown-purple; strawberry. A somewhat more cold-hardy tree, it is recommended for the upper South and coastal Atlantic regions. Similar to Brown Turkey. Small-sized tree is well suited to container culture. (022)
                                  Also recommended by Oregon Exotics for cold-winter areas. (036)
                                  From a garden near Chicago comes this excellent fig which, once established, can freeze to the ground and come back to produce a crop the same year! The fruit is medium to small, with dark brown skin and a sweet, rich flavor. (037)
                                  (Northern Kentucky) In my area it freezes back to near the ground (planted near a south foundation) every year so no breba crop. [It is] very vigorous: it can be froze to the ground and easily regrows to 6-8 ft by fall. I get ripe figs from the late summer / fall crop usually starting in mid September. After nights routinely fall below 40 degrees or so the remaining unripe fruit become soft, rot, and are devoured by lady beetles strangely enough. (925)
                                  Brown, rich and sweet. Good for potted culture. In 1999, we picked the first ripe outdoor figs on July 31st. Does extremely well in N.C. and we send this one to enthusiasts up north, because of its early fruiting tendency. (071)Small, but very good. Tolerates hot weather. (001c)
                                  There's some debate about Hardy Chicago - is it really hardier than figs like Brown Turkey and Celeste? Is it a sport of Brown Turkey or is it a variety out of Celeste? What isn't up for debate is that fact that Hardy Chicago has impressed us with a very tasty, Celeste-type fig that can hold it's own with any of the figs we grow. The fruits are small and very rich, like Celeste, but seem darker and a bit richer in flavor. We suspect that the hardiness is in line with both Brown Turkey and Celeste.Are we sure about the parentage? Nope, but we are sure that this is a fig worthy of being added to any fig lover's garden! (016)
                                  This fig has an interesting history and what is contained below is only part of the story. This story does however, clear up some mysteries and inaccuracies, although over time, some details tend to get misplaced.
                                  The Hardy Chicago that Hartman's Nursery sells originated from Edible Landscaping.
                                  Ray Given's web site has the following information: "Q. I've heard there are two distinct varieties of Hardy Chicago. Is this true? A. Some people have noticed a difference between the Hardy Chicago figs offered by Fred Born and by Edible Landscaping, the two chief promoters of the variety. I struck some cuttings from the 'Fred Born' strain and compared them with my "edible landscaping' plants. Sure enough they looked different, but less and less so as the season progressed. By the end of summer, I could not discern any difference as to leaf or fruit. I e-mailed Mike McConkey of Edible Landscaping and asked him about it. He explained that his Hardy Chicago came from Fred Born, but that he had used tissue culture to multiply his stock. The plants produced by this procedure may have juvenile leaves for several generations. There is only one strain of Chicago Hardy."
                                  Leon posted this on G.W. 02-14-2006: Hanc Mathies once told me that the DiPaola's, friends and owners of the Belleclare Nursery in Plainview, NY, somehow tracked the Bensonhurst Purple fig to it's origen on Mt. Etna, Sicily, where the variety is known to have been growing at about 3000ft above sea level. (I think that Maggie, a poster on the forums, used an Italian name "Mongibello."
                                  I wrote to Fred Born, who is attributed with "finding" and distributing this fig to folks who made it more widely available. Here is the essence of the reply from Fred.
                                  Fred was fairly certain that he provided the original Hardy Chicago cuttings to Edible Landscaping. He got this fig from a man living on the south side of Chicago. He does not remember the name of the person. The tree was on the property when that unidentified person got the property. This tree was unprotected in the winter and somewhat large, having a trunk diameter of about 4-6 inches. He propagated it and distributed it to others. He is fairly certain that Edible Landscaping gave this fig its name, Hardy Chicago.
                                  Fred found this tree by chance. Someone from 'Organic Gardening Magazine' called Fred to get some information about winter protection for figs (likely prior to 1984). During that conversation, the journalist told Fred about this fig tree and Fred then went to the place and obtained a couple of cuttings. (1001)

                                  Last edited by drew51; 01-22-2016, 12:41 AM.