Figs in New England

Hey Folks,

Trying to plan out for next year. Don’t know if there is a list out yet but… I’m in 6a Massachusetts, trying to see what types of Figs people (without greenhouses) have been sucessful here. I had a Chicago Hardy but was only really able to get the breba to rippen. Anybody have any luck with any others? Thanks in advance!

I’ve had a bunch of different varieties potted up and kept in the garage over the past couple of winters in central NH, but this winter killed everything right down to the roots. I got a chicago hardy this spring and plan to plant it directly in my chicken run and I’ll mulch it heavily in the fall and just let it resprout every warm season.

My favorite was ronde de bordeaux. I had a large 2" caliper one in a whiskey barrel pot, but it was getting too big to lug around so I buried it in snow all winter. It was completely top killed, and so far there’s no sign of new regrowth from that one either. I rooted a cutting for my father a couple of years ago from it and his is still alive so I’ll have to steal a cutting back from him.


Are you 6a or 6b? Half a zone can make a difference. I am solid 6a, (formerly known as 5b).

I can share with you my experience as a lazy fig grower. I bought my first potted fig tree, Chicago Hardy, 8 years ago. Since then, I have grown about 20 fig varieties, all but one have been in pots. Most are gone now due to poor production, poor eating quality, too late ripening and a few other issues that led me to abandon them.

I have had one Chicago Hardy in ground for 6 years. It was planted next to my house’s foundation facing southwest. I covered it well when it was young. Died back was minimal at the time. Then, it grew bigger and wrapping became tedious even after I chopped it down to 2 ft tall. I stopped covering it and it died to the ground (Digging a trench and laying it down is not an option due to its location). If I was lucky, fruit ripened in time and it did not rain, the figs were wonderful. That hardly ever happened. Sometimes, the fruit did not ripen and it rained!! That tree will be dug up and discarded this year as soon as I have time.

Don’t let anyone tell you that they can grow figs in ground without protection and no die back in zone 6 a. If you have a perfect spot, maybe, it would die back some but not to the ground.

People in zone 6a or colder like @JesseinMaine is successful because he buries his figs in late fall annually.

As for figs in pots, I have a few varieties that all branches/stems above a soil line have died back when kept in my garage (attached to the house). I think Ronde de Bordeaux and Malta Black did but both have resprouted. In fact, this year, the variety with a French name meaning Long August died, like dead to the roots after a winter in my garage. Last year it was in the basement.

In my garage, those that have died to a soil line, most have re-sprouted. In my unfinished basement (temp hardly goes below 40) all have survived and waken up in late March.

With my long-winded answer, plant figs in pots. Choose varieties that ripen in time. Florea is supposed to be early ripening. Improved Celeste, Ronde and Chicago Hardy all ripen in time and taste good.

I hope @SMC_zone6 will chime in. He grows over a hundred varieties, I think. He knows what he’s talking about and he is here in MA


I’m in zone 4b Maine and have been working with figs since 2014. Best results have been had from the earliest ripening varieties, for example Hardy Chicago doesn’t ripen it’s whole crop before frost here. Improved Celeste, Florea, Iran Candy, Ronde de Bordeaux, Teramo, De tres Esplets have been reliable when grown in pots and overwintered in my cellar. Inground is more challenging but still possible with winter protection but those plants don’t set and ripen as much fruit as my potted ones do. If you need help sourcing those varieties, let me know when I prune this fall, I may also have some started plants available


Thank you!! Sounds great!

My town is literally split in half 6a/6b. Based on how my flowers do relative to other parts of town, I’m guessing that I am more on the 6a side. I’d like to try some of these earlier ripened figs that you and @JesseinMaine have been talking about. I’m willing to bring them back and forth bud would like to have a system so that it is not too onerous. There is one guy that grown them in 5g homer buckets but I’m not sure about that… though they seem easier to move around… also willing to cover in the winter and seen some videos/info on that… thanks so much for the information

You are in a colder zone than bc I thought!!!
How do Florea, Iran Candy, Teramo and De tres Esplets taste like, please?

Early ripening varieties are my focus at this point.

@agc123 - I don’t know “a homer pot”. Figs grow fast. They won’t stay ling in 5 gallon pots. Mine more mature ones are in 15 gallon pots. There will not be any bigger pots than that, too heavy to carry even with soil-less media.

Potted figs is the only option for me in z5.



Nice!! How big are the Pots that they are in? Which varieties? Looks great!

10 to 20 gallons pots. I don’t remember them anymore. Lost most tags but at one point over 40 varieties.

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Iran Candy is a green honey type, refreshing
Florea is Brown sugar/figgy flavor
DtE has light berry/Bordeaux flavor, good size
Teramo is somewhat similar, smaller fruit
The neat thing with all those varieties is that in addition to a very early maincrop they all produce some breba!


my in ground chicago hardy survived -40f in z4a here over winter. i cut the roots on one side, tipped it over and covered with some old heavy synthetic blankets then blew snow on it. all canes survived and have a doz. figs the size of a dime right now. hopefully they have time to ripen. also have a florea put in ground this spring from Barkslip i hope to get 2 crops a summer off of.

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Sound good. I’ll reach out to you in the fall. Thanks.

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I feel like I need a few more years of evaluating before I can make any recommendations. I’ve got a few in-ground (unprotected) varieties that die back to the roots each year and still manage to ripen a decent amount of fruits in our short growing season. I’ve also got a lot more in-ground (unprotected) varieties that don’t ripen any fruit at all. There are just so many varieties to try!


@SMC_zone6 What are the in ground fig varieties that survived for you? Were they plants in a microclimate, like near a south facing wall?
I am thinking of planting some.

mine are on a south facing wall about 5 ft. from the house.

Is it bad form to recommend that you check out a different forum?

The Fig Forum on covers this (and every other conceivable) issue related to fig growing in depth.

IMO, it is futile to try growing figs in the ground in the northern U.S. without substantial winter protection. That means some heat source, even if only passive heat from the ground. And it means insulation to retain that heat.

With good protection, I’ve got 17 trees growing in the ground (along with many more in pots).

Rather than look for a “cold hardy” variety – which doesn’t exist – you should concentrate on early ripening varieties. Names like Florea, Ronde de Bordeaux, Improved Celeste, De Tres Esplet, Iranian Candy, and various so-called “Mt Etna” types (e.g., Salem Dark, Malta Black, Norella, Natalina) will start ripening early enough to give a decent crop, quality and quantity. Same names as suggested by Jesse.


Sal’s Gene, Gino’s Black, Drop of Gold, LSU Tiger, Red Lebanese Bekaa Valley, Ashbury Black, Malta Black, and Spadafora Dark are all ones that have produced a fair amount of fruit in ground.

Nope. Completely out in the open. I’m interested in finding the ones that will work without any babying. The plan is to plant a long row of them and treat them like cane fruits. But again, the jury’s still out on which those “best ones” are for me. I’ve added a bunch more varieties in ground over the past few years, and I’d like to see how those do compared to some of those listed above.

Just my opinion, but the problem I see with ourfigs is how transient that forum is. There seems to be a lot of people who show up super excited about figs, state things with confidence, but don’t have the experience to back up what they’re saying. I’ve found that forum to have a lot of misinformation, which is part of the reason I decided to trial so many varieties for myself.


Well, I agree with you 100%.

I’ll take the criticism one step deeper. Most issues have been discussed and analyzed in depth. There is either a reasonable consensus or a clearly divided opinion, but the spade work is done. In theory, the new member should be able to search the FAQs or fire up the search engine and get a good perspective on almost any issue.

In reality, the FAQs are not comprehensive. The search engine completely sucks. So it’s very tough to find the answers that have already been worked out. For example, here’s my answer to this question:

It took me at least 10 minutes to find this myself – and I had to use Google.


Agree with what everyone has stated regarding choosing early ripening varieties & and the Mt Etna types.
Just want to add, if your willing to do some sort of winter protection consider desert king and cane pruning it for the Breba. ( only crop we can get).
It’s a large delicious fig with vigor that you can have perfectly ripe around July 15th.

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