Growing figs outside of their native Mediterranean climate provides some challenges. However, properly attended, hundreds of cultivars of figs can grow and ripen fruit in growing zones even colder than zone 5 and in zones warmer than 7 which are more like their native environment.
Ripe figs are tender and sweet, with a jelly or jam like consistency across a broad spectrum of flavors, sizes, shapes, and colors (of both skin and pulp). Sizable crops can be harvested in many different growing zones, especially if the most robust cultivars are selected for the colder zones. Such cultivars have the following traits: early ripening times, dependable flavor, reliable crops.
Such robust figs earn the name we give them – mountain figs – having demonstrated their vitality in short growing seasons. While most cultivars of figs can be raised and ripened in short growing seasons if grown in a pot and stored in a garage or basement during winter, the most early ripening, flavorful, and productive cultivars perform best.
15 top Mountain Fig cultivars could include: Mt Etna, Ronde de Bordeaux, Brooklyn White, Florea, Nordland, Violet Sepor, Long Yellow, Violette de Bordeaux, Ischia Green, and the LSU cultivars: Improved Celeste, O’Rourke, Tiger, Purple, Gold, and Scott’s Black. These cultivars cover the flavor and color spectrum and can be prolific producers with great flavor in short growing seasons. Violette de Bordeaux, Scott’s Black, and Ischia Green (Paradiso) pack perhaps the most intense flavors of this group, and are also the latest ripening.
Add a few other fabulous figs like Mary Lane, Black Madeira, and Marseilles White and that’s an excellent 18 cultivars that show the tremendous bounty and diversity that figs can offer to dooryard growers.