Ficus carica

A brown fig, rich and sweet. Good for potted culture, although it is our most dependable outdoor fig. Hardy Chicago ripens its figs from August until fall frost and will have some fruit in July. Has produced as many as 100 pints of figs in one season. Does extremely well in NC and we send this one to enthusiasts up north, because of its early fruiting tendency. Success will vary with every location, so be sure to give it the warmest, most protected place. It's our best fig and came to our attention in the 1970's when cuttings for propagation came from Fred Borne, a North American Fruit Explorer member. Cuttings were supplied to him from a man from Chicago with a "U" shaped house, from a bush he had protected for some years. Without protection the mature bushes top would die back from winter cold, but sprouted from the roots and ripened some figs at the end of the season. Most fig varieties do not share this trait. Usually, a fig's above ground growth must survive the winter in order to fruit the following season. Leaves are the 5-lobed type and the plant has a bush form in the east. Space 8' to 10' circle in Zone 7. Zones 6-8.

Plant Characteristics
Pest Resistance Very Good
Disease Resistance Very Good
Drought Tolerance Very Good
Heat Tolerance Excellent
Humidity Tolerance Fair
Sun Tolerance Excellent
Wet Soil Tolerance Fair
Shade Tolerance Fair
No Spray Good
Salt Tolerance Good
Fresh for Kids Excellent
Deer Resistance Good
Thorns No
Plant Type Shrub
Soil Type Well Drained
Edible Type Fruit
Self Fertile Yes
This information is accurate to the best of our knowledge, comments/opinions are always welcome


The figs you have purchased can be grown in pots or outside. They are hardy varieties. If planted outside give the fig the warmest, sunniest spot in the yard usually near the house. Poor soil is fine for outside figs. The figs need some organic material or top soil, (about 1") for their roots to get nourishment.

Fig Espalier
Espailier Fig

The organic material will provide some moisture retention for the figs large leaves since they transpire rapidly in drought conditions. Rich soil induces lanky growth and sparse fruiting. These areas should be avoided.

Low temperatures in winter of about 10 degrees can damage above ground growth of a fig, one year old growth is especially susceptible to winter damage. The older the growth the more hardy it is. Figs should be planted in the most protected areas sheltered from north winds. If a fig is killed to the ground it will come up with new growth when the weather warms up. The house acts as a micro climate if the figs are planted near it. Many people cover figs in winter. It is best to use dry materials and avoid plastics since they can heat up during the daytime. For an example, dry leaves stuffed tightly into a wire cage, surrounding the tied fig branches, with a top of tin or a lid like a trash can. The cage gives reasonable insulation for over wintering figs. Time this chore after the fig leaves have fallen. Late fall is best. It is less likely rodents will overwinter in this warmer spot if done before Christmas and after Thanksgiving. If winter kill occurs, old dead wood should be removed. If shoots of new growth come up from the ground select only a few sprouts (approximately 3). Spread out the 3 so that plenty of sun can reach between them. Depending on variety this new growth can produce figs the same summer they come up.

Potted figs can be moved indoors for winter protection. They will continue to grow if given about 12 hours of extra light. They will go dormant without the extra light. They can be stored after their leaves have fallen. Place them in a garage, shed, basement etc. Storage areas should not be allowed to go under 20 degrees F. Check stored plants every few weeks for water, they can dry out.
Terracotta pots dry out before plastic pots do. A customer shared with me, he over wintered his figs. The figs in terracotta died but the figs in plastic did not.

Potted figs will require more watering than outside plants in the growing season. They respond to low levels of fertilizer such as Peters 20-20-20 with minor nutrients approximately 1/4 tsp. per gallon of water. Osmocote with minors 8 - 9 month time release or Miracle grow are very good fertilizers. You can use this mixture whenever you water. As the figs ripen do not let the plant dry out, also keep it in a sunny location. Plenty of calcium should be added to the potting soil since figs respond to this element. 1-2 Tbs. per gallon of soil mix is adequate annually. Fafard has a good soil mix for figs named Fafard #52. It contains about 60% composted pine fines, peat and perlite.

Outside figs need no spraying, for indoors there are many indoor sprays available. We use Neem oil extract (Triact tm) for control of insects in the greenhouse. It will kill mealy bugs, aphids and mites. Basically they need little attention for diseases or insects. Take close looks at any webbing under leaves (spider mites), any small grey, red or black aphids on terminally growths or white cottony oval shaped bugs (mealy bugs) on the underside of leaves. Usually some pinching or squashing controls preliminary problems. if mites were unchecked and have spread all over the plant take off the infected leaves, spray with hose. The plant will put on new growth.
Graduate figs to 1 gallon larger pots as necessary. In the spring before growth starts the roots can be pruned back to half their size. The fig can be put back in the same pot if desired.

An excellent way to always get figs to ripen in colder areas is to plant potted figs in the ground when the weather gets warm. Keep the rim of the pot a few inches above ground level. The pot should be about 15" in diameter. The fig will send its roots through the bottom drain holes of the pot and grow vigorously and fruit abundantly. When the leaves fall in early winter, dig up the fig, cutting the ground roots off. Store the fig and plant again next year. This method requires less water and fertilizer, especially if the pot is mulched.

If you are in a colder winter area for transplanting Figs in the fall, it is our advise not to plant in the quart size until next spring after frost in May or June in your area. You may grow it indoors in a larger pot or protect it from temperatures below 25*F in cool storage. If stored do not let it dry out. Our warranty does not cover winter kill on figs when planted in marginal areas in the fall. If you must plant outside, chose a site protected from the wind and mulch around Thanksgiving to Christmas about 3" deep and about a 3' circle.


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