Updated: Jan 31
Fig trees are an ancient fruit crop, with a history of cultivation dating back to ancient civilizations. Due to human selection over 1000s of years, and due to the fig trees' mutualistic relationship with the fig wasp (Blastophaga Psenes), there is a huge genetic diversity within these oh-so-special ficus trees.
They come in many varieties, each with its own unique characteristics and qualities like different colors, shapes, sizes, how they taste, and so much more.
In this article, I will be exploring different types of fig varieties, including Adriatic, Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Calimyrna, Celeste, Chicago Hardy, Desert King, the "king of fig," Kadota, Lattarula, Little Miss Figgy, Olympian, Panache, Texas Blue Giant, Violette de Bordeaux.
I will also be discussing the best-tasting varieties, the sweetest figs, the most common types, the easiest fig trees to grow, the most hardy figs, the best fig in the world, and the differences between Turkish figs and Mission figs.
Additionally, we will discuss which fig trees are self-pollinating, and which fig tree produces the largest fruit.
2. Concerns when Growing Fig Trees
Growing fig trees can be a rewarding experience, as they are relatively easy to grow and can produce a bountiful crop of delicious fruit. To help you succeed, it's immensely important to choose the right fig variety.
I created a handy chart below that lists a number of the important factors that you'll want to consider when choosing a fig variety. Let's talk about how to use it to your advantage.
Where do fig trees grow?
Fig trees grow in USDA zones 6B-10B with little care.
They also prefer dry climates. After all, they are drought tolerant and are one of the best plants for the desert.
Most fig varieties will have poor-tasting fruits when ripening in humid climates, but if you choose the right fig variety, you can enjoy your harvests for years to come.
Fig Tree Cold Tolerance:
All fig varieties will survive the winter in zones 7B-10B. In 7A, I would choose only hardier fig tree varieties and in zone 6B, only the hardiest fig tree varieties like Chicago Hardy will survive with added winter protection.
In zones 4 and 5, you can grow fig trees in containers with ease. They make fantastic container plants. Just make sure that the fig variety that you choose, has an early ripening time, which is listed on the chart above.
How big do fig trees get?
In warmer fig climates where winter damage is none or minimal, fig trees can reach 40 ft in height over many years, but with proper pruning, they can easily be maintained at a 6-10 ft.
A handful of fig tree varieties are what are called dwarf fig trees, which means that they can be easily maintained at 6-8 ft with minimal or no pruning. One of which is called Little Ruby.
What do figs taste like?
Figs taste like a combination of sweet melons, berries, dried fruit, and sugar flavors. They can have a texture that is similar to jam, jelly, meat, or even pastries.
In the vast world of fig genetics, each variety tastes different. Usually determined by their flesh color. I've mapped out some simple flavor profiles on the chart, so that you can choose a fig that will taste like what you want it to.
3. Fig Varieties
Also known as the White Adriatic fig, the White Madeira fig, the Green Ischia fig, and the Strawberry Verte fig. White Adriatic and Black Mission were the first commercial fig varieties grown in the US, and for good reason. White Adriatic is visually appealing and it dries well. The fig also tastes among the better varieties in existence. Boasting a strong raspberry or strawberry-like berry flavor. The thick and jammy texture is sure to wow you and it will perform well in a range of climates. Even in cold fall weather after your first frost, this fig still ripens at a high quality due to its ability to taste great even when at a lower ripeness. It's a hardy tree too.
The agricultural experiment service at Texas A&M University bred Alma in 1975. I don't know why they ever released it. There are 100s of other fig varieties that I would choose to grow over this one. It's a pear-shaped and sometimes rounded fruit with brown skin with an amber or brown interior. The flavor is simple with brown sugar, fig, and honey flavors. Performance is mediocre in most locations in the US.
Atreano is a hardy tree of Italian origin brought to the US by Hanc Mathies and it was eventually featured by the first fig-focused nursery in the US, called Belleclare Nursery. It's an overwhelmingly sweet fig with green/yellow skin and amber or pink flesh. The variety tastes like honey and mild berries with a strong melon flavor. The texture is a lot like eating jelly. Atreano is one of the fastest-growing figs with huge 5-lobe leaves. The tree is hardy, and productive, and should produce a breba crop.