Choosing a fig for Jacksonville FL (8b/9a)

nolefan_2006(FL 9a-ish formerly 8b)August 31, 2012


I've been doing research on figs, trying to pick the best one for my zone. These forums have been great. I have a good bit of experience with garden vegetables, azaleas, hydrangeas, camellias, gardenias, shrubbery in general, knock out roses and some ornamental trees like flowering pears and St. Lukes Plum. However, I don't have experience with figs.

I'm looking for advice on what would do best in my area. Ideally I'd like something that might bear fruit more than once a year. But, my back yard is small and I don't really necessarily want to plant something that's going to become HUGE.

I've been considering the black jack from Monrovia. But, I think it only fruits once a year. Brown turkey sounds good, but may be too large for me (although I might be able to plant it on the southern side of my back yard and it could shade my macrophyllas (which get hammered by sun from 10 am until 5 pm when the sun sets behind some oaks in my side yard. My wife would prefer that I get something "smaller" on the order of 6-8 feet, but understands if I need to buy something that will become larger.

I'm also interested in Celeste. But, I don't know a lot about it.

Here in Jacksonville, more than any other place I've lived, I have had to deal with lots of pests. My knockouts were hammered with black spot mold (potassium carbonate seemed to actually make it worse..). My ornamentals get lots of fungus even when I don't irrigate. My gardenias haven't been hit with white flies, yet, but I know it's only a matter of time. My Zoysia (Emerald) was pretty badly damaged, suddenly, by sod webworms in July and hasn't bounced back yet. My camellias get scale pretty badly even though I use horticultural oil.

My azaleas have also gotten fungus! Copper has become my friend...

It's a nice place to live, but the climate is conducive to bug and fungus proliferation. We also get freezes in the winter. Usually nothing that a few well placed sheets can't can't handle.

With that said, I'd like to purchase a fig that is the right plant for the right microclimate. I'd prefer not to fight more battles with pests/fungus than absolutely necessary.

Does anyone have any advice on what I should do? What would my best options be? I'm good friends with the people down at Trad's Nursery, but before I go down and talk to them I wanted to be a little better informed.

Thanks in advance for any help!

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wisner_gw wisner

I'm in SW Louisiana. Celeste the only fig I have much experience with. It is good for eating or canning. It's the variety my grandparents grew and I started cuttings from their trees. You could look at the LSU varieties. I bought a Champagne this year from Petals from the Past Nursery. It makes a yellow colored fig.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 10:31PM
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nolefan_2006(FL 9a-ish formerly 8b)

Thanks wisner. Do you have any problems with insects or fungus with Celeste? From what I've read it has a closed ?pore? which is better for keeping ants out. Is this true?

My local nursery doesn't stock Celeste, so I'll have to hunt a little bit. Can you keep it a manageable size without hurting yield? Do you get a small harvest early and a bigger one later in the season?

Thanks so much for responding!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 12:54AM
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wisner_gw wisner

The Celeste has a closed eye. It helps keep out insects and moisture. I get one harvest from the end of June into mid July. You can keep it pruned but it will eventually be hard to keep it too small. I don't have any real problems except if we get excessive rainy periods the figs will split open and spoil on the tree. That happened this year and I lost about a week of harvest.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 8:42AM
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nolefan_2006(FL 9a-ish formerly 8b)

thanks. I think that this is the way I'll go.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 6:07PM
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I know one poster/forum member who grows "ALMA" with great success in Tallahassee, FL. in-ground.

If Root-Knot Nematodes are a problem, you may want to consider containerizing your fig tree(s). I use dollies under my 20 gallon containerized trees, and just roll them from place to place. If you do containerize, you will have to feed your trees often, root-prune every 3-4 years, and replant in new soil. You can do this for decades to come, and replant into the same, or slightly larger, container. A forum search for containerized fig trees will yield hundreds of postings on this subject.

Also Durio Nursery, in LA. lists figs that do well in the FL./LA. areas. If you decide to grow in a large container, and you have access to a large garage, or sheltered area free from rain, you will increase your choices of fig varieties. If you expect downpours, just roll your trees where it ain't raining. Rain is ONLY a problem when the figs start to ripen. Some fig varieties will split, and sour, when waterlogged by heavy rains.

Also check out "Dan's Cajun Fig Blog" for critiques on figs that will do well in the humid/rainy South-East, US.

Good luck, and hope this helps.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 4:16PM
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nolefan_2006(FL 9a-ish formerly 8b)

Thank you. Extremely helpful. Will look into it right away.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 5:14PM
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