So I was browsing Wikipedia a few weeks ago (dangerous place!), and happened to end up on the article for figs (Ficus carica). While there, I noticed this paragraph in one of the sections:
The only difference between the mountain fig and other figs is its tolerance of dry and cold climates. It usually does not need any irrigation and is able to survive extremely dry weather and temperatures of −40 °C (−40 °F).
Since I live in Colorado in USDA zone 5 with an average of 16" of precipitation annually, my ears perked up a bit at that. Unfortunately, that section of the page didn't include any references, and a brief web search didn't reveal anything useful.
So, does anyone have additional information about mountain figs in general or know where plants can be acquired?
I checked pfaf.org. Good resource. I then checked edible landscaping.com They have a selection. I personally have a Chicago Hardy. One tip I got from my source is to take a cutting before putting in the ground. That way if it doesn't survive you still have something.
I've been out of town, but thanks for the responses! Taking a cutting before planting is an excellent idea. Any particular varieties on those pages that you guys were looking at? It could be that I'll be best off calling those companies to ask about cold hardiness. My issue, though, is that "hardy" for a fig seems to mean USDA zone 6 or 7. I live in zone 5 in Denver, where during the winter we get the occasional -15 or -20 degree F temperatures, but also have large temperature variations most of the time. Adriano's Fig Trees says that Tena(Bifere) has "cold resistance to -14C degrees [7° F]," but most of the varieties available don't list hardiness specifics.
Even with these "hardy" figs, though, hardiness to zone 6 or 7 is quite a far cry from hardiness to zone 3 (the equivalent of −40° F). I would have thought that if truly hardy figs existed, someone would have imported them to the US by now.
posted 4 years ago
Jonathan I hear what you're saying. I'm in CT and this is my first year with the Chicago Hardy in the ground. It cost me $10 for the cutting so worst case I'm out some money. There are technics to protect the tree. I only piled rocks around the base and planted in a 12in mound of mulch. There was a recent article on NPR where Italian immigrants would bury the tree. That seems like more work than I'm willing to do. If the winter is harsh I would consider wrapping in burlap. That's Ill I can offer. You could try calling or emailing these places. They are really good about answering questions.
Aaron - that's not too bad of a price for a fig - it's always more daunting when you pay $30 or more for a tree. I've heard of some of the hoops people jump through to protect tender plants, but I agree that they're too much work. One of our biggest challenges in Denver, though, is that it never stays cold for long periods of time. It's normal for us to have several weeks of high temperatures between 35 and 50 (lows 20ish) followed by half a week of the high temperatures plunging to between 0 and 10 (lows -10ish). The same pattern continues (moderated) in spring - we often get warm temperatures in March or April that trigger bud break and blooming, followed by frost or snow in April or May. Thus, even our apples probably only set fruit three out of four years, and apricots one out of five. Since deserts frequently have similar temperature swings, I wondered if the mountain figs might do better. Oh, well, maybe I need to give up on the idea of growing figs here.
You must be in about zone 6 in CT? I would think the Chicago Hardy should do fine for you there.
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