by Bethany Hayes
Fig trees are one of the oldest fruit trees still available today. We know they existed thousands of years ago and continue to be one of the most popular fruit trees to grow. If you live in an area with warm summers and not terrible winters, you have fig tree varieties you can grow at home.
Figs are an easy-to-grow fruit at home. The trees produce large harvests, even on the small trees. In addition, you’ll find several of these fig tree varieties are container friendly, so you can grow them even if you only have a patio or balcony.
Some are cold-hardy down into negative temperatures!
If you’ve never grown fig trees at home, you might be wondering what varieties will be best for your area. We put together a list of just a few of the best fig tree varieties – there are more than anyone could list – that grow well in backyards and homesteads.
13 Fig Varieties
1. Black Mission
Black Mission fig trees grow best in USDA zones 7 to 10. They’re cold-hardy down to 10-15°F at most for short periods, but they prefer the warmth. That might be why Black Mission figs are the most common fig tree variety grown in California; they produce best when they grow in hot and dry climates.
This fig tree variety is known for moderate growing habits, reaching 15 to 30 feet tall. Black Mission fig trees produce medium to large purplish-black fruits with a red, strawberry-colored inside. The flesh has a sweet berry flavor that anyone would enjoy.
2. Brown Turkey
Brown Turkey figs grow best in USDA zones 7 to 10, and they won’t handle temperatures below 10°F very well. So you’ll want to have some frost blankets on hand if your region reaches these temperatures regularly. However, some say that it is more cold-hardy than Black Mission.
Brown Turkey figs are slightly smaller than Black Mission, typically reaching up to 20 feet tall with an average between 10 to 15 feet. The trees produce figs that are medium in size and have brownish to purple skin with a light pink flesh.
This fig variety produces two crops per year – a large crop in the spring and another harvest in the fall. Some say that the fall crop is sweeter and more flavorful than the spring crop.
If you’re looking for a fig with the classic fig taste, Brown Turkey gives that to you. The figs are mildly sweet with a hint of melon and honey, but these aren’t the exotic or complex tastes you find in other fig tree varieties.
Celeste figs grow in zones 6 to 10, handling temperatures down to 10 with ease. As a result, these are on the “cold hardy” list compared to other figs, even though they only grow down to zone 6.
Here’s one of the features that makes Celeste figs a fantastic choice.
It’s a dwarf tree that only reaches up to 10 feet tall maximum. So, if you have limited space but still want to enjoy homegrown figs, Celeste is a fantastic option.
Another reason why gardeners love the Celeste fig trees is because the fruits tend to ripen earlier in the season and bear fruits in the first year of growth. The trees tend to have large harvests.
That’s a lot of reasons to grow this fig tree variety!
The fruits are small to medium-sized with bronzed to purple skin color and reddish-pink flesh. Some call Celeste the “Sugar Fig” because the fruits have a sweet, refreshing, berry flavor that tastes great when eaten fresh.
4. Chicago Hardy
If you live in a colder zone, you might be feeling left out. For example, is it even possible to grow figs if you live in zone 5?
Yes, and Chicago Hardy is the answer to your fig-less problem. It grows well in zones 5 to 10; it’s the most cold-hardy fig tree variety. While some branches might die during extreme cold, the rootstock lives down to -20°F, so your tree will be fine, especially if you add some mulch or frost protection.
Chicago Hardy is a compact, container-friendly fig tree with compact growth. The mature size is 10 to 12 feet.
Despite their small size, Chicago Hardy fig trees produce large harvests; expect 100 figs per tree once matured. They have two yields, with the largest crop in the late summer and early fall and a small spring harvest.
The fruits are medium size with burgundy-purple skin and light pink flesh. These figs are soft and sweet, similar to berries. It’s not a complex flavor but rather a fruity taste kids will love.
5. Desert King
Sometimes called King, this fig tree variety grows well in zones 6-10. However, they will handle temperatures as low as 5°F once established in the garden. This makes its name ironic since these fig trees don’t grow well in dry, hot conditions.
In fact, Desert King grows best in the Pacific Northwest. So if you live somewhere with plenty of rain in a coastal or high-elevation region, you’ll want to pick Desert King.
These trees grow fast compared to other fig tree varieties, and they reach up to 25 feet tall. The average height is between 15 and 20 feet tall. The fruits stay green as they ripen, turning a pale yellow when it’s time to harvest. The flesh is super sweet and juicy with reddish-pink flesh.
Here is a slightly hardier fig tree variety – Kadota. It grows best in zones 7 to 9, and it’s hardy down to 15°F, but in-ground trees may overwinter in areas with temperatures down to 5°F. Kadota can live in zones 5 and 6 with winter protection like frost blankets, plenty of mulch, and a sheltered location.
Kadota is a large tree, typically reaching up to 25 feet tall. The fruits are small to medium size with yellow to green skins and amber-colored flesh. Expect a harvest only in the fall, and a hot summer leads to super-sweet flesh.
One difference with Kadota figs is that the flesh tends to have a coarse texture that makes it unappealing for fresh eating. These are best for drying, canning, or preserving. Believe it or not, Kadota figs are used in the classic Fig Newton cookie, so if you love those, you’ll love Kadota!
7. LSU Purple
If you live in a subtropical zone, LSU Purple is one of the best fig tree varieties to grow. It grows in zones 8b to 11, cold-hardy only down to 15 or 20°F.
LSU Purple is a small fig tree, reaching 8 to 10 feet tall at full maturity. This is an excellent fig tree for containers. The fruits are medium-sized with purple skin and light, raspberry-colored flesh.
One thing that people love about LSU Purple is the flesh of the figs.
Seriously, the flesh is extra sweet with hints of brown sugar, caramel, dates, and persimmon. They’re perfect for fresh eating, baking, and making preserves. These trees can bear up to three crops per year in areas with warm winters. Expect a small crop in the spring, the largest crop in the summer, and a potential small crop in the fall into winter.
Olympian is another example of a cold-hardy fig tree growing well in zones 6 to 10. However, some say that it does well in zone 5. It’s hardy down to 5, but the rootstock survives temperatures below 0. The above-ground growth will die back, but it will regrow in the spring if the rootstock survives.
Olympian is a compact fig tree, reaching 6 to 10 feet at maturity, growing well in containers. The fruits are striped green and purple skin with red to violet flesh. These are large fruits with wonderfully sweet flavors.
Olympian fig trees produce two crops per year. There is a spring harvest and a harvest in the summer and fall.
9. Panache Tiger Stripe
If you live somewhere with hot summers and warm winters, Panache Tiger Stripe is one of the best fig tree varieties for you to grow. These trees grow in zones 8-10; they prefer to grow in the southwest. Therefore, it’s best only to grow these if you have a long, warm growing season.
Panache Tiger Stripe is a semi-dwarf fig tree that reaches 12 to 15 feet at full maturity. Gardeners love this variety because it produces fruits that are green and pale yellow striped with dark red flesh.
Once ripened, these fruits have a berry-like flavor, similar to a strawberry with a jam-like consistency. They’re excellent for fresh eating and making preserves.
10. Peter’s Honey
If you’re looking for a unique-looking fig, Peter’s Honey is a fantastic option. This tree grows well in zones 6 to 10, cold hardy down to 5°F.
Peter’s Honey is a semi-dwarf fig tree that reaches 12 to 18 feet tall at maturity, but it grows in a container well. Some say that it may grow up to 25 feet tall when grown in-ground.
The fruits make Peter’s Honey unique. The figs have a greenish-yellow skin with amber-colored skin, known for being very sweet and tender with a syrup-like honey flavor. That’s how it gets its name, and it’s perfect for fresh eating!
11. Ronde de Bordeaux
Here is another potentially cold-hardy fig tree variety, growing in zones 6 to 10. It’s possible to grow this tree even in zone 5 if you offer plenty of winter protection. However, the rootstock is hardy down to 5°F, so zone 5 will be questionable.
This is a semi-dwarf tree, reaching 8 to 15 feet tall. It’s a container-friendly option, so if you live in zone 5, growing it in a container may be the best option.
Ronde de Bordeaux fig trees produce small to medium-sized fruits with dark purple skin and reddish-pink flesh. The flesh is sweet and rich with hints of grapes, molasses, syrup, and berries. It’s utterly delicious!
12. Violette de Bordeaux
Violette de Bordeaux is a semi-dwarf fig tree that thrives in zones 7 to 9; it’s cold-hardy down to 5. Since it’s a semi-dwarf, it’s possible to grow this tree in a container or small space. The tree typically reaches 10 to 12 feet at maturity.
Violette produces small purplish to black fruit with red pulp. The flavor is similar to berries, so it’s an excellent choice for fresh eating and baking. Some say that Violette has the sweetest and richest flavor profile.
13. White Genoa
White Genoa is a semi-hardy fig tree variety, growing well in zones 7-9. The rootstock is hardy down to 5, so it’s possible to grow in zones six, maybe five if they have the proper frost protection.
This fig variety grows and ripens best when grown in cooler coastal or temperate climates. If you live somewhere with a hot, humid climate, it’s not recommended to grow White Genoa since these conditions lead to a large “eye” at the bottom, leading to spoilage.
White Genoa is a semi-dwarf fig tree that reaches up to 15 feet tall at maturity. It’s known for being a heavy and consistently bearing fig tree.
The fruits are large with yellowish-green skin and rose-colored flesh. Expect the flesh to have a sweet, honey flavor with touches of berries. White Genoa figs are ideal for fresh eating and preserving.
These are just a few of the different fig tree varieties you might grow in your backyard. Whether you want a compact tree for containers or a super-sweet yet tall tree, one of these varieties will suit your needs.