Fig Choices


Fig Tree Choices

Use of Fig Trees

Fig trees are grown to produce their very sweet fruit.  Figs are a favorite breakfast fruit, and make a delightfully sweet addition to appetizers, salads or desserts. However, the tree is a perfectly good shade tree in terms of its value to the look of the landscape.  Since in most areas it must be in full sun to produce fruit, it is probably best used as a specimen plant or maybe at the end of a perennial bed remembering that the fig has a massive shallow root system.  Many folks prune the multi-stem form into a fan shape up close to a south-facing wall. 


Choosing the best variety

Choosing the best variety of fig tree for your region is critical to your success.  Varieties or cultivars popular in the east may be very different from those grown successfully in California and Arizona.  Only a few varieties are relatively cold hardy, so if you live north of Georgia, you want to be careful with your selection.  The best approach to selecting the proper cultivar is to go to several local nurseries that sell fig trees.  They will have already found the varieties that work best in your neighborhood. 


Three of the most popular backyard cultivars include Black Mission, Brown Turkey and Celeste.


Black Mission has medium sized, tear(drop)shaped fruit with purple-black skin and strawberry flesh. It is reported to have a very rich flavor and is good fresh or dried. The Black Mission fruit won't split open or get moldy when ripe.  This tree is quite large growing up to 30 feet, so you want to plant at a spacing recommended by the nursery.


Brown Turkey has large, bell-shaped fruit with purple-brown skin and a juicy, light strawberry colored flesh. It is preferred to be eaten fresh, but is considered excellent for making home preserves.. This is a short growing tree reaching about 10 feet. Brown Turkey figs are excellent in containers. This fig is known for reliably good flavor and outstanding hardiness, including a strong ability to tolerate salt water. Many of the fig trees growing along the eastern coastline through hurricanes and Nor'easters are Brown Turkey.  Brown Turkey will have a longer ripening season than most varieties. This variety will also produce fruit in the summer, even if killed back to ground level the previous winter.


The popular Celeste is also called Honey Fig or Sugar Fig in some areas.  This has small to medium fruit with a skin that is light violet to violet-brown, and a flesh that is reddish amber. It is very sweet and is most often dried but many enjoy them fresh as well. The tree is large, vigorous and very productive. It has a light breba crop. It is popular in the Southeast and Texas. This is the fig that will produce in part shade in the south.  Do not prune mature Celeste trees heavily because this can reduce the crop.

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