Figs by Seven

Which figs to prioritize most for growing in short seasons? Views can change as new experiences are gained or criteria shift. My views on this have held relatively steady for years, with some shifts. 

Recently I’ve found it useful to think of top figs (and other fruits) for short seasons in groups of seven.

1. Mt Etna (Marseilles Black, etc)
2. Ronde de Bordeaux
3. Improved Celeste
4. Brooklyn White (Naples White, etc)
5. Negretta
6. Planera
7. Long Yellow

1. Violet Sepor (Bordissot Grise – possible synonym)
2. Osborn Prolific
3. Figo Preto (Black Madeira)
4. Nordland (Longue d’Aout, etc)
5. LSU Purple
6. Sucrette
7. Verte (De La Gloria, etc – possible synonym)

1. San Miro Piro
2. Grantham’s Royal
3. Violette de Bordeaux (many synonyms)
4. Lattarula
5. LSU Tiger
6. Florea
7. Col de Dame Gegantina

These groups represent a highly personalized selection for short seasons. These varieties are not all the earliest to ripen (an often prized trait for cold climes). These groups make for a robust mix of varieties providing great flavor, appearance, productivity, diversity, and other compelling and unique features.

For short seasons, half of the first group contains figs that are very early to ripen, very productive, and very flavorful, while the other figs in the first group provide good diversity.

The second group adds greater diversity in flavor, size, and color.

The third group introduces outstanding breba varieties, along with additional focus on productivity, earliness, flavor, and diversity.

2 thoughts on “Figs by Seven

  1. I’m in the northern Finger Lakes of central NY, 6b., concerned with coldhardiness as well as early ripening. New to figs with 3 Chicago Hardy in pots in an unheated shipping container shed for the winter and a dwarf Brown Turkey coming this spring, I don’t know all the synonyms and varietal characteristics yet. I hope to get my first fruits this year! Still clearing planting areas so I can’t plant in-ground quite yet. Have to remove a lot of black walnuts and thorny honeylocust too. Thankful to have a friend who’s a sawyer who wants all I can let him cut for me. Looking forward to having lots more room to plant fruits and gardens as well as ornamentals. Just looking for early and hardy stuff!


    1. In cold zones, best figs and fig production will come in pots, winter stored, because figs will ripen earlier in the greater heat that helps them. Even in pots they are mainly a late summer fruit, at the earliest, with the exception of a few breba crop figs on certain varieties which are more difficult to produce than main crop figs and with a constrained range of flavor. If protection is good, the range of figs that can be ripened in ground in cold zones increases. With no protection, the only variety that has been both productive and reliable in my area has been Hardy Chicago (and its many Mt Etna type synonyms or near variants). The earliest ripening varieties perform next best but the annual dieback can greatly limit their productivity – at least in my growing conditions where nothing gets full sun for anything close to a full day.. My in-ground Eastern Brown Turkey sets fruit every year but never ripens; Brookyn White nearly the same, scarcely ripens. LSU Purple can do significantly better. If I had full sun, should be better results with these promising varieties, including the three earliest ripeners: Ronde de Bordeaux, Florea, and Improved Celeste. And there are plenty of varieties I haven’t tried in ground but would without space constraints. A lot of people have a much wider range of success in ground in cold zones with careful winter protection.


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