Grow Fig as a Tree in Zone 7

Is it possible to grown a fig in the tree form rather than a bush in Zone 7A? If yes, I would save a spot for a fig “tree”. I just like the tree form for its ornamental value.

I have 2 hardy chicagos here in Northern VA, but they are not consistent. One died back to the ground while the other had very minor damage this past winter (but it was a very warm winter). Luckily these two did produce some fruits last year and I like them. For whatever reason birds did not take any fruit. That’s why I decide to plant a few more - Celeste, Olympian and LSU Purple this year. However I was not thinking to grow them as trees when I bought them. They were all bushes except for the LSU purple (a whip). And they are not really cold hardy types. I was just getting whatever cultivars that I can find locally.

A few weeks ago I saw a fig tree with a trunk size of at least 8 inch when walking by a house a few miles away. I said to myself, wow. I never thought it was possible here. But unfortunately I can’t recall the location of the house now. Otherwise I would talk to the owner and find out what cultivar it is and how he did it.

Then I searched this forum and online, everyone seems thinking it is already very difficult to keep the figs live above the ground, not to mention in a tree form. I really hope it’s possible to grow it like the one in this video (I know this tree must be in really warm region). Has anyone ever tried to grow the fig as a tree in ground in zone 7 and succeeded? If yes, would you please share your experiences? Really appreciated.

Below are the links that I searched and found on this forum:

Here is a the link to the video. Skip to 1:15 to see the tree. The tree that I saw here had a similar trunk size, but just one trunk, and the canopy was much smaller.

I doubt it.
I do not have a lot of experience to share yet, but here are you some thoughts from experiences I have read or been told, that are influencing my plans for what I want to obtain and try:
I would focus on short season figs that can regrow and ripen fruit after dieback. Even if the base gets thick and does not die back, I expect top damage often, which makes bush form more expected.
Those that fit the description of fruiting after dieback and also are capable of taking colder temps under the right conditions without dieback are my favorite combination… I hope to trade for several of these and trial them…
I have read of Florea taking -3F without dieback, some years, once larger, and also in dieback years it should be productive once it has established roots.
Same for some strains of Hardy Chicago, I have been told have been good about not dieing back some years once it is a larger tree, at 0 to -5F.
Same for other Mt Etnas like MBVS. And then you have Black Bethlehem, Malta Black, and possibly some others like Teramo, that are similar to Mt Etna’s, perhaps better I hope. :slight_smile:
There are some other very reliable ones for fruiting after dieback but that are more likely to die back, I think LSU Tiger and Improved Celeste may be like that from what I have read.
English brown turkey (Hanks and LaRedek) seem to be among the least likely to die back at 0 or -5 in the right conditions, and may be your best bet for a tree form in 7a, but when they do die back, they are not going to fruit that year from what I have read…

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I’m sure it is possible in my zone 7b, but you have to have the right variety and be willing to wait a few years as the roots establish. It’s also likely easier if you have a microclimate associated with reduced wind or a heat sink. But 7a may be a different thing entirely.


Thank you for your input!
I think I will drive around and see if I can find that place again.
At the same time, I plan to leave the 4 cultivars I currently have unprotected this coming winter and see how they behave. Is it a good idea (valid test)? IF they all die back, I will just give up this idea. Maybe it’s too difficult.


Ok yeah that sounds good.
Yeah the CHardy that did not die back sounds the most promising by far of what you mentioned. I was told by s guy in 6a that for the first few years his CH died back to the ground, but as it got a bigger base, the more established it gets, the less dieback each year. So since you are 7a in a few years it should become a big bush with less and less dieback.
But still expect some dieback etc most years, because winter coldest temp is not the only factor, wind chill, fall freezes, late spring freezes etc can cause major damage too because of the limbs not being totally dormant. So bush form is most likely I think. :slight_smile:


Most of the old figs here in western NC don’t die back much once they reach a certain age - 3, 4 years in ground, perhaps. Your best bet would be to plant a cold hardy one in-ground and prune it to a single trunk once it reaches the age where dieback it minimized.


They are always vulnerable their first year or 2 after planting. Hardiness is a little mysterious, in a relatively mild winter like we just had, with cold snaps early and late, I had a similar experience of mixed damage on the same variety, even the same tree where some trunks survived almost intact and others died to the ground.

Growth is a big factor though, and assuming they take off his year your trees will have green wood in the fall and be full of sap that will freeze easily. There’s nothing mysterious about that part.

What seems to make the biggest difference here is reduced vigor, and the best way to achieve that because the soil is rich and it rains a lot is to establish a “mature” refined branch system that grows a foot or less and then hardens before winter. So ideally you want to protect them, without pruning back, as long as you can to give them the best chance of survival unprotected.

I thought the same thing ~15 years ago, that I would never protect them and weed out the less hardy. They all died back, so then I focused on the ones that could fruit after dying back, now I protect the ones I can because the crop will be earlier and greater and worth the trouble.

Olympian is an English Brown Turkey, aside from LSU Purple (which I’m not sure about) your varieties have a reputation for cold hardiness.


We obviously don’t get that kind of cold, but wind is our big problem. We keep figs as bushes so when they do take wind damage they can regrow essily. I’ve had a large apple tree pushed over, pomegranates broken, and most recently, a pawpaw snapped by the wind. D

Hi, I am in zone 7a not to far from you in Virginia. I have a Chicago Hardy in tree form in a pot. It is about 4 years old. I have not found a place for it in the yard yet. I have about 5 in the ground in bush form. I think it may be possible to grow it in the ground as a tree.


I’ve got an old celeste that I have to prune regularly to keep it from turning in to a tree. Here in 7b west central Georgia there are several figs easily 20 feet tall.

Everything above about things being slow to establish matches my experience. Cuttings from that celeste regulary die back to the ground. Entering year 4, for the first time part of my Chicago Hardy did not die back.

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Hey NoVA - I’m in SEVA 3 hours away from you, so I’m in a slightly higher growing zone of 8A, but I have a beautiful, 6y.o. 12’ tall green fig tree that produces lots of fruit each year. I have never covered it or given it special treatment, no matter the weather, but it hasn’t suffered damage at any time. Even when we had record-breaking snow of more than 12" and below zero temperatures, it survived without any die-back.


That is very promising. Are all 5 hardy Chicago? How big is the trunk size of the one in your pot? I will keep trying the Hardy Chicago then. Get it growing stronger.

Good to know. Seems just need to grow it bigger before it can really reduce the die back.

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Very encouraging! It has survived 0F! What cultivar is it ?

I have an Olympian. I didn’t know “Olympian is an English Brown Turkey”…

It is doable to grow fig as tree. I saw two people in Brooklyn, NY grow their figs as trees.

Here are pics of the two fig trees. These two trees were large, but polar vortex killed it back to root few years ago and the Italian neighbor tries to grow back as tree again.


The ones in the ground are Chicago hardy, Rdb, LSU purple, Celeste and Osborn Prolific. Very basic figs. As mentioned earlier it does take several years to get them established in the ground and there can be some dieback. The CH tree in the pot is about 8 feet with a trunk size of five inches. There are a number of more experienced fig growers than me. I am sure they will chimed in. Here is the LSU purple in the ground.


There are several tree form figs in Philadelphia, zone 7a/7b. There were even more before the polar vortex knocked some of then back. All the buildings and houses close together probably help a lot with desiccating winter winds. You might have more success planting it next to your house to provide a windbreak.


Nice trees! More confidence for people like me. Thanks!

Thank you for sharing the photo!
I have a LSU purple too. Will try to train it as a tree as well. Worst case scenario, just grow it back from the ground as a bush.
How do you feel the cold hardiness among LSU purple, Celeste and Chicago Hardy based on your own experience? Are they pretty much the same?