Cold Climate Fig trees

spectrum_2008December 8, 2008

Can I get help selecting a cold weather fig tree. I am in Frostburg,Maryland.This is in the mountains,at approx 2000 feet. Our winters can be cold and snowy. Three varieties that have been mentioned is Brown Turkey, Celest and Hardy Chicage. The Figs could be planted on the south side of large blue spruce trees that could give some protection.

Any advise would be appreciated.


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Violet De Bordeaux is very early ripening but I don't know if its all that hardy.
Desert King is tough but the fruit is prone to souring in a damp summer.
I would contact Michael McConkey at Edible Landscape in Virginia for some good ideas. He grows a lot of varieties for northern growers.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 2:23PM
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btropical256(7a Philadelphia PA)

Well i dont know how much cooler it gets by you, however i grow golden celeste, italian honey fig here and do really well and last year i was unable to protect the italian honey fig and to my surprise it had little dieback and still pushed some brebas as well as a big main crop, The golden celeste i have is probably hardier, even as its tarps blew off last year and the whole top went bare and only the tips got damaged. they both are about 6-8 feet tall this fall. Hope this helps somewhat, We hit low temperatures as 5 degrees usually at one point and common to have temps in the teens. in between cold spells.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 5:54PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I think you will need to cover your figs or grow them in pots and bring them in, it gets pretty cold there. I am in Baltimore and I tried minimal or no covering and they always had to grow back form the roots. Many varieties are hardy enough if you cover them (and if you bring them in you can grow any fig). The ones you mention are all good. Violette de Bordeaux is not as hardy but it has done fine for me covered.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 11:13PM
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I'm just outside Hagerstown and have a Hardy Chicago from Raintree that does really well in the ground on the SW side of my house. I covered it for the first three years and it's now about 7 feet tall. I'm not going to cover it this year. I have a fig from Home Depot that I planted at the corner of my house in 2006. It's supposed to be a Celeste but I'm pretty certain it's anything but a Celeste. I've never covered the thing and cold doesn't seem to affect it at all. For all I know, Home Depot dug it out of the arctic tundra and trucked it to their store. All of it's hardy traits are a cruel joke - it doesn't taste nearly as good as the HC. I secretly wish it would die, but I keep it around to see just how much abuse it can take. I recommend an HC, but don't get it from a big box store.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 7:48PM
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I have a Italian Alma/Honey that does great... so far unprotected at 5 F one year and 11F last year. This year been down to 9F. I have a brown turkey that did fine to 11, but froze to near ground at 5F. I have some sort of Black Mission (so I was told) that has done fine at those temps.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 2:45AM
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You might ask which figs do well in containers. I know some trees are pretty small growing. Desert King is a Giant tree here.
With all the cheap tarps being sold now, I think you could pretty easily cover a tree with one, if it was under 12 feet tall.
A bother, but at least you will get through the winter there.
My 'Italian Honey Fig' is a small tree, as is Violet De Bordeaux.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 1:44PM
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More or less, ALL figs (Ficus carica) have the same
hardiness. Some (e.g., Hardy Chicago) are claimed to
be more hardy, but actually they only bounce back from any
ground winter kill to produce fruit the following summer.
Others may be slightly less hardy (or more prone to rot -
e.g., PN, VdB), and may not come back at all.

The difference is not THAT big...

Two falls ago, I was in GreekTown Baltimore MD, and I have
seen some BIG unprotected fig trees. Speaking to some of
the owners, they informed me that, that location seems
to be a demarcation line. A few more miles up north, fig
trees need to be winter-protected, else they would be
winter-killed (at least when very young), but not there
in GT, MD... Also the Chesapeake Bay temperature-buffering
waters must be playing a very important helping factor.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 2:51PM
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In general, any location with a USDA Zone 8 or warmer,
it is considered safe to-not-winter-protect the figs.

For zones 7 or colder, it is advised to (somehow) winter
protect all the figs.

GT, MD is zone 7!!!??? (must be the water...).

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 3:13PM
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Spectrum20008 you are in luck. I live in Morgantown Wv and have about 100 ficus caria varieties. Come on by and I will save you a lot of time and money.


    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 9:52PM
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Hey Vinnie thats a very nice offer to Spectrum in trying to help.
People helping each other we need more of that in this world.
Best Health

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 10:04PM
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klavier(Z7 Baltimore)

There are some massive fig trees in Baltimore that are certainly unprotected. Fruit well too. I will have to get a picture in.
-Werner J Stiegler

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 5:29PM
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chrisware(5-6 wv)

I'm in wv too and if you still grow them I'd love to learn a few things about em. I realize this is a very old thread, but I figure it's still worth a try.
I do know ill be in Motown in July. I'm close to buckhannon.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 11:31PM
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gorgi, I live in zone 8 and there are many fig trees not hardy enough to go unprotected even here. some have no winter dieback but some do and I've lost some varieties in the past. I think the hardiness depends mainly on the background of the tree itself. Where it's genes come from. I have friends overseas with varieties we've never heard of in places you wouldn't think could grow figs. I've made trades with friends in denmark, Russia, and Hungary to name a few. some are extremely cold hardy varieties. I also have 1 tree from Israel that dies back to the ground even in a pot stored in building overwinter, while everything else comes out just fine. Our best bet is to keep commenting on what works and what doesn't. then we can draw a better conclusion on each plant's individual hardiness.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 3:21AM
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