Welcome to the wonderful wide world of figs! Fig trees are beautiful and easy to grow at home, and will provide you with bountiful delicious fruit. There are a number of well-known types of figs, along with dozens (if not hundreds) of unique fig tree varieties for you to try. Big trees, little trees, those that thrive in high heat, others that bear best in cooler climates, and some that are exceptionally cold-hardy. Not sure where to start? Read along as we explore 18 fantastic varieties of figs to grow.
This article will cover the preferred climate, hardiness, growth habits, fruit characteristics, and other unique facts about 18 different types of fig trees. Then you can choose what tickles your fig fancy most!
Growing Fig Trees
This article is intended to be a follow-up to our “How to Grow Figs” guide. Please check that out here for in-depth information on planting, pruning, fertilizing, overwintering, pests, recipes and more.
In summary, fig trees are considered subtropical or Mediterranean plants. They generally grow best in areas with long, warm, dry summers and mild winters (zones 7 through 10). However, certain hardy varieties can survive in zones 5 and 6, especially if additional protection is provided over winter. Furthermore, some fig tree varieties are adapted to more humidity or rain.
Fig trees like ample sunshine, well-draining soil amended with compost or other organic matter, moderate to low water once established, and have modest fertilizer requirements. They can be pruned to maintain a petite size, and also take well to growing in large containers. Fig trees attract very few pests or diseases, making them an all-around low maintenance addition to your garden.
Fig Tree Varieties: At a Glance
Before we go into detail about each type of fig below, here is a quick list of fig varieties grouped by similar ideal growing conditions (though note that many of these can be grown in a wide range of climates too):
- Best fig tree varieties for cooler coastal climates or the Pacific Northwest: Desert King, Corky’s Honey Delight, White Genoa, Excel, Osborne Prolific, Olympian
- Best figs for hot dry climates: Penache Tiger Stripe, Black Mission, Violette de Bordeaux, Brown Turkey, Peter’s Honey, Ronde de Bordeaux, Yellow Long Neck
- Figs that grow well in the South or humid climates: LSU Gold, LSU Purple, Celeste, Kadota, Peter’s Honey, Violette de Bordeaux
- Most cold-hardy fig varieties: Chicago Hardy, followed by Celeste, Olympian, Brown Turkey, Peter’s Honey and Desert King
Fig Tree Size & Containers
In the fig descriptions below, you’ll see growth habits and average mature tree size for each variety listed. Note that is the size the tree will reach if left unpruned and in the ground. Since figs take kindly to pruning, every variety can easily be maintained smaller than the sizes listed! Visit our fig grow guide for more information about pruning. Growing figs in containers will slightly constrict their growth and therefore naturally lend to a more petite tree as well. When growing figs in containers, we recommend choosing dwarf and semi-dwarf fig tree varieties when possible.
Figs & Cold Hardiness
Also listed below are the USDA hardiness zones and minimum temperatures that each type of fig can withstand. The zone range provided applies to trees planted in the ground. Unlike those planted in the ground, container tree roots are less insulated, leaving them more vulnerable and less hardy. Therefore, potted fig trees must be brought inside and/or protected during freezing conditions.
Additionally, you can push the limits and grow a particular variety of fig in lower zones than those listed by keeping it in a container and protecting it over winter. Bring potted fig trees indoors or to another sheltered location such as a shed, garage, basement, or other place it will be protected from freezing.
Furthermore, keep in mind that established fig trees are more cold-hardy than saplings. Offer young trees additional winter protection with deep mulch, frost blankets, and/or the shelter of a nearby wall or fence.
Last but not least, rootstock is more resilient to the cold. In extreme freezing events, a fig tree may lose limbs or appear to die above ground, but the roots should survive and produce new growth come spring. Keeping this in mind, cold-climate gardeners may want to choose fig tree varieties that bear a good main crop, since extreme cold may kill last year’s wood growth and the associated breba crop.
Breba Crop versus Main Crop
Fig trees often produce several crops per year. Some varieties are renowned for their main crop, while others produce an especially impressive breba crop. Some do a little of both! Breba figs are the fruit that grow on the previous year’s wood and ripen early in the season, generally in spring to early summer. The main crop develops on the new branches grown the same year, and ripen in late summer to fall.
Where to buy fig trees?
We like to buy fig trees from our local nurseries. In addition to supporting local small businesses, they usually stock fig varieties that grow well in our area! They’ll often special-order certain varieties we’re interested in when they’re not in stock too. Yet when we’re on the hunt for a particular cultivar that is hard to come by, we don’t shy away from online retailers as well. Fast Growing Trees, Four Winds Nursery, Monrovia, Nature Hills Nursery, Peaceful Valley, and Stark Brothers are a few reputable places to buy fig trees online.
Now without further ado (and in no particular order), let’s dig deeper into our featured figs!
18 FANTASTIC FIG TREE VARIETIES
1) Black Mission
Cold-Hardy to: Down to 10 to 15°F for short periods of time.
Growth Habits: Moderate and spreading growth, 15 to 30 feet tall and wide.
Fruit Characteristics: Black Mission figs bear medium to large purplish black fruit with strawberry jam colored flesh and sweet berry-like flavor.
Breba or Main Crop: Light breba crop with heavy main crop
Other Unique Facts: Black Mission is the most popular fig tree variety grown in California, as it produces best in hot and dry climates.
2) Brown Turkey
Cold-Hardy to: Brown Turkey fig trees will need protection (e.g. frost blankets) when temperatures reach 10°F, and is slightly more cold-hardy than Black Mission.
Growth Habits: Moderate growth rate, reaching 10 to 20 feet tall and wide
Fruit Characteristics: Brown Turkey figs are medium in size, and have brownish rusted purple skin with light pink-amber flesh inside. Their flavor is described as quintessentially “figgy” with mild sweetness reminiscent of melon and honey, but less complex or intense than many other fig varieties.
Breba or Main Crop: Brown Turkey fig trees boast two crops per year, with a large breba crop in late spring and a main crop in early fall.
Other Unique Facts: The main crop is reported to be much more sweet and flavorful than the breba crop. The figs are prone to splitting at the bottom when they’re ripe and ready to harvest, revealing some of the flesh.
Cold-Hardy to: Withstands temperatures down to 10°F when planted outside. Celeste fig trees are considered one of the more cold-hardy fig varieties.
Growth Habits: Dwarf fig variety. Trees will grow 5 to 10 feet tall and wide when mature.
Fruit Characteristics: Small to medium sized fruit. Bronzed purple skin color with reddish pink flesh. Also known as the “Sugar Fig”, Celeste figs have a light refreshing berry flavor, chewy texture, and crunchy seeds – great for fresh eating or preserving.
Breba or Main Crop: Very light breba crop with most fruit production coming during the main crop
Other Unique Facts: Celeste figs usually ripen earlier in the season than many other fig varieties, and can bear fruit in the first year of growth. They’re also known for being especially prolific, packing on a lot of fruit on compact trees. Between their exceptionally large leaves and “closed eye” feature (on the bottom end of the fig), Celeste fig trees have increased resistance to pests, disease, humidity, and splitting when ripe.
4) Penache Tiger Stripe
Cold-Hardy to: The Panache Tiger fig is best-suited for climates with hot summers, warmer winters, and is not as cold-hardy as other fig varieties (down to about 15°F for short periods of time). Does very well in the southwest.
Growth Habits: A semi-dwarf fig tree variety that reaches 12-15 feet at maturity.
Fruit Characteristics: Panache Tiger Stripe figs are incredibly striking and unique, with green and pale yellow striped skin and dark red flesh. Once ripe, they boast a ripe strawberry and raspberry flavor with jam-like consistency. Top-notch for fresh eating, dried figs, or preserves.
Breba or Main Crop: Late-ripening main crop.
Other Unique Facts: Panache Tiger Stripe figs require a long, warm growing season. During that time, they develop a high sugar content that makes them so delicious!
5) Desert King aka King
Cold-Hardy to: down to 5°F once established
Growth Habits: Fast-growing compared to other fig tree varieties, and can grow to 15 to 25 tall and wide.
Fruit Characteristics: A green-skinned or “white” fig that stays green as it ripens. Because of this, we find the birds are less attracted to pecking at the ripe fruit. Bears very large fruit with green to pale yellow skin and exceedingly sweet, juicy berry-flavored reddish pink flesh.
Breba or Main Crop: Desert King is known for its exceptional breba crop, with a possible small main crop in warm regions.
Other Unique Facts: Despite it’s dry heat-invoking name, Desert King figs thrive in cool climates – making it a favorite fig variety in the Pacific Northwest. It reliably bears good fruit in the rain, and also grows well in coastal or high-elevation regions. We love our Desert King here on the foggy Central Coast of California!
Cold-Hardy to: Generally hardy to 15°F, though the rootstock of in-ground trees may overwinter outdoors down to 5°F in zones 5 and 6 with proper winter protection – such as a sheltered planting location, use of frost blankets, and deep mulch.
Growth Habits: Moderate growth rate, reaching 15 to 25 feet
Fruit Characteristics: Fruit are small to medium in size with yellowish green skin and amber colored flesh. Ripens in the fall. The fruit becomes increasingly sweet with hot summer weather. With a slightly coarse texture, Kadota figs are ideal for drying, canning, or preserves.
Breba or Main Crop: Main crop producing with little-to-no breba crop
Other Unique Facts: Kadota is the fig variety used in the classic chewy Fig Newton cookies! It’s also known to have good humidity tolerance.
7) Violette de Bordeaux
Cold-Hardy to: 5°F
Growth Habits: Violette de Bordeaux is a semi-dwarf fig tree variety that is great for small spaces. It can reach 10 to 12 feet if planted in the ground, but is container-friendly where the size can be further managed.
Fruit Characteristics: Small purplish black fruit with red pulp and a luscious complex berry flavor. Excellent for fresh eating, baking, or preserving.
Breba or Main Crop: Both, but with a heavier main crop.
Other Unique Facts: Violette de Bordeaux is known to have one of the most sweet and rich flavor profiles of all the fig varieties! Thrives in dry heat as well as humidity, though fruit may crack more in wet conditions.
8) Chicago Hardy
Cold-Hardy to: One of the more cold-hardy fig varieties. While the branches may die off during such extreme cold, the rootstock can survive down to negative 20 degrees F!
Growth Habits: Compact bushy growth and container-friendly. Mature trees reach 10 to 12 feet.
Fruit Characteristics: Chicago Hardy figs are medium size and have burgundy purple skin with light pink flesh. The flavor is light, sweet, and strawberry-like, described as “fruity berry” (rather than deeply rich or complex).
Breba or Main Crop: An early producing main crop (late summer to early fall) with a very light or lacking breba crop – especially if the old growth was hit by extreme cold the previous winter.
Other Unique Facts: Chicago Hardy figs are prized for their cold-hardiness, easygoing nature, versatile fruit use (great fresh or preserve) and also their abundant yield! Mature Chicago Hardy figs can bear upwards of 100 figs per season.
Cold-Hardy to: Down to 5°F when provided extra winter protection. Like Desert King, the Excel fig variety is well-adapted to a wide range of climates and produces sweet fruit even in areas with cooler summers.
Growth Habits: 12 to 20 feet, most commonly maxing out at 12 to 15 high and wide at full maturity
Fruit Characteristics: Medium to large sized yellow-green fruit with amber pulp. Very sweet, rich, delicious honey flavor. The fruit are resistant to splitting as they become ripe, even under adverse conditions.
Breba or Main Crop: Two crops per year, with a light breba crop and more robust main crop.
Other Unique Facts: Dubbed one of “the best all-around white fig varieties”, Excel is actually a fairly new type of fig – created as a hybrid from Kadota figs in 1975.
10) Corky’s Honey Delight
Cold-Hardy to: 5°F
Growth Habits: A semi-dwarf fig tree variety, growing up to 10 to 12 feet.
Fruit Characteristics: The green skin changes to a light yellowish green when ripe and has amber pink colored flesh. Living up to its name, the flavor is delightfully sweet with notes of honey.
Breba or Main Crop: Known for two bountiful crops per year, a strong breba and main crop.
Other Unique Facts: The Corky’s Honey Delight fig variety was bred and created by Monrovia. This is one of our personal favorite types of figs; we’ve planted several!
11) White Genoa
Cold-Hardy to: Rootstock hardy down 5°F
Growth Habits: Semi-dwarf fig variety growing 12 to 15 feet
Fruit Characteristics: Very large fruit with yellowish-green skin and light honey yellow to rose colored pulp. Wonderful sweet honey berry flavor, excellent for fresh eating but also great for preserving.
Breba or Main Crop: Light breba crop with heavier main cop
Other Unique Facts: This fig tree variety tends to be a heavy and consistent bearer, even from a young age. White Genoa grows and ripens best in cooler coastal or temperate climates. It’s not recommended to grow in hot humid environments since the fruit has a large open “eye” on the bottom that leads to easy spoilage in wet summer conditions.
12) Peter’s Honey
Cold-Hardy to: 5°F
Growth Habits: Medium growth rate. Some sources say Peter’s Honey is a semi-dwarf fig variety and reaches 12 to 18 feet tall, while others claim it may grow to 15 to 25 feet tall with a 12 to 15 foot spread. Either way, it is known to be container-friendly.
Fruit Characteristics: Medium-size, round figs with greenish yellow skin and amber colored flesh. Reliably bears very sweet, tender, high quality fruit with a syrup-like honey flavor. Superb for eating fresh.
Breba or Main Crop: Produces two crops per year
Other Unique Facts: Native to Sicily, this fig variety ripens best in climates with warm summers. Temperate coastal zones can create warmer microclimates by planting the tree along a sunny south-facing wall or fence.
13) LSU Gold
Cold-Hardy to: 15 to 20°F
Growth Habits: Fast-growing, medium-size tree that will reach 8 to 15 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide
Fruit Characteristics: Very large fruit with light yellow green skin and a rosy blush, and pink to red inner pulp. Offers a richly sweet flavor and is excellent for fresh eating, drying or preserves.
Breba or Main Crop: Main crop, ripening in midsummer
Other Unique Facts: Grows especially well in the Southern US. Known to be a heavy producer. This fig tree variety was bred and introduced by the Louisiana State University AgCenter in 2001. Container-friendly and heat tolerant.
14) LSU Purple
Cold-Hardy to: 15 to 20°F
Growth Habits: LSU purple is a smaller fig tree variety, reaching 8 to 10 feet and considered fully mature at 5 years of age. Ideal for containers.
Fruit Characteristics: Medium-sized purple fruit with light raspberry colored flesh. Extra-sweet flavor with hints of caramel, brown sugar, dates and persimmon.
Breba or Main Crop: May bear up to three crops per year in climates with warm winters – with a light breba crop in spring, the heaviest main crop in summer, and potential small crop in fall through winter.
Other Unique Facts: The LSU purple fig variety was introduced in 1991 by the LSU AgCenter, where it was bred for superior disease resistance and the sweetest fruit possible. Known to produce quality fruit earlier than most fig tree varieties, in the first year or two after planting. Grows very well in the Southeast despite the high heat and humidity.
15) Osborne Prolific
Cold-Hardy to: down to 5°F
Growth Habits: Moderate growth rate, reaching 12 to 20 feet tall and wide
Fruit Characteristics: Medium size bronzed purple fruit with honey amber flesh. Delicate figgy flavor with notes of caramel, sweet berry and honey. Said to be pleasantly moist but not as juicy as some fig varieties.
Breba or Main Crop: Modest spring breba crop with a heavier main crop in late summer or fall
Other Unique Facts: As its name suggests, this fig tree variety has a reputation for being a prolific producer. Also happily grows in cooler coastal climates and can bear fruit in partial shade.
16) Yellow Long Neck
Cold-Hardy to: Down to 5 to 10°F when provided extra winter protection.
Growth Habits: One of the most petite fig tree varieties on this list, ranking in at only 4 to 8 feet tall on average.
Fruit Characteristics: Large round figs with a long neck, bright yellow skin, and light amber colored flesh. With it’s very thin skin and luscious honey flavor, Yellow Long Neck is considered to be one of the finest figs for fresh eating by fig connoisseurs.
Breba or Main Crop: Both breba and main, offering two crops per year
Other Unique Facts: Yellow Long Neck figs can grow nearly as large as a tennis ball in size! This fig variety was first discovered at the San Diego Botanic Gardens. Fruits best when it receives at least 8 hours of sun.
Cold-Hardy to: Down to 5°F ; an extra-hardy fig tree variety for both cold and coastal climates. Once established, the rootstock can survive down to zero degrees, though the above-ground growth will die back. It will re-grow in the spring and bear fruit the following summer.
Growth Habits: Compact size and shape, reaching 6 to 10 feet
Fruit Characteristics: Striped green and purple skin with red to violet flesh. Very large fruit, thin skin, and exceptionally sweet flavor.
Breba or Main Crop: Two good crops per year. The breba crop is known to be especially cold-hardy and withstand temperatures in the teens, providing a late spring harvest. Main crop harvest in late summer to fall.
Other Unique Facts: The Olympian fig variety was first discovered in Olympia Washington by a retired biologist Denny McGaughy.
18) Ronde de Bordeaux
Cold-Hardy to: Rootstock hardy down to 5°F , winter protection recommended for zones 6-7
Growth Habits: 8 to 15 feet, usually grows in a bushy shape with long finger-like leaves.
Fruit Characteristics: Small to medium fruit size with dark purple skin and bright reddish pink flesh. Rich sweet flavor with notes of grape, strawberry, molasses, or syrup.
Breba or Main Crop: Produces an earlier main crop than most fig varieties. The breba crop is not noteworthy.
Other Unique Facts: This fig variety is similar to the more well-known Violette de Bordeaux, but bears slightly smaller and lighter-colored fruit. “Ronde” means round in French, as the fruit is exceptionally spherical and plump. Highly sought-after fig variety and reliable producer for cool-climate gardeners.
And that concludes this exploration of 18 fantastic fig varieties to grow.
Now that we’re all officially craving sweet and juicy fresh figs… I hope you discovered a few new fig varieties, and feel excited to expand your fig tree collection at home! Or, did I miss any of your favorite fig varieties? Please drop a comment and let us know below! Also feel free to Pin or share this article if you found it valuable. Don’t forget to check out the accompanying fig grow guide for more tips. We appreciate you tuning in!
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