Growing Fig Trees in California: Best Varieties

Growing Fig Trees In California
Growing Fig Trees In California

Figs are full of fibre and nutrition that will benefit you and your family many times over for taking the effort to plant and grow a fig tree. Since they grow well in California there is no reason not to plant a fig tree and reap the benefits for many years to come, since fig trees can continue to bear fruit for many decades and some trees are still producing fruit at 100 years of age.

Fig trees grow well in California with some of the best varieties being the Black Mission, considered the best all round performer, and the Brown Turkey. They prefer a well drained soil and need some protection from the cooler parts of California for the fruit to mature properly.

Please read on as we look into how to grow your fig trees for the California climate and landscape, and what varieties taste best and do well in the sunny State of California.

But first lets consider the question: Do Fig Trees Grow Well in California?

Do Fig Trees Grow Well in California?

Fig trees grow well in California which produces 100% of United States dried figs and 98% of the fresh figs. The soil and climate of the State are ideal for fig growing as they thrive in the hot dry sun.[1]

They are pretty much care free to maintain, and do best planted in a sunny spot. Young trees will need regular watering but older trees can be given a deep drench every three to four weeks, and young trees start producing fruit within 5 to 7 years.

If you are wondering how long your tree will produce fruit, then don’t worry, its probably going to be longer than your natural lifespan as some trees in California are still actively bearing fruit after 100 years.

What Kind of Fig Trees Grow in California?

The Golden Fig with its amber colour and nutty flavour and the Sweet Mission with its distinctive dark purple colour are popular fig trees that grow in California. Although many other varieties also do well and can easily be grown in containers or small areas if heavily pruned.

There are hundreds of fig varieties which are then classified into 4 types: Common, Caprifig, San Pedro and Smyrna. Smyrna is considered among the best for eating and drying[2], however Common is the most common found in the home garden and grown by home gardeners.

Black Mission and Brown Turkey are varieties of Common figs.

If you are wanting to know what fruit trees are best to grow in California then please check out our article: Best Fruit Trees To Grow In California

Which Fig Tree is Best For Southern California?

The Unk. Pastiliere and the Black Mission are two of the best fig trees for Southern California. Unk. Pastiliere season starts in the middle of July and will run for about 2 months, if your tree is in the ground (the trees grown in pots tend to have a totally different timing for fruiting).

The Unk. Pastiliere is a berry fig with a taste much like a sweet bing cherry. Berry figs get their name because of their taste generally resembling a Strawberry.

How Do You Grow Figs in California?

Fig trees are easy to grow in California and will thrive in a wide range of different soils from heavy clay to light sand. They don’t need a lot of fertilizing unless they are grown in pots or on light sand soils.

Take a look at the video below to get tips on planting your fig tree.

Fig trees prefer warmer dryer climates, and only need 300 hours or less of chilling time for the fruit to set. If you are located in a Coastal area, then plant your fig tree in the warmest location against a sunny wall.

Fig trees can withstand colder temperatures very well with fully dormant trees being cold hardy to 12° F – 15° F, but plants that are in active growth can be damaged at temperatures at or below 30° F.

Because fig trees have shallow spreading roots with no tap root its best practice to dig down 5 to 6 feet to break up any hardened layer that may hinder drainage and penetration of water and roots.

If you live in warmer areas, you can plant young saplings in the fall or early winter. However, if your area has late frosts then its best to plant your young saplings in the spring when hard frosts have passed.

If you are growing Smyrna type figs then you will need to also grow a Caprifig to ensure cross pollination and fruit setting. The most common varieties of caprifigs that are grown in California are: ‘Croisic’, ‘Brawley’, ‘Roeding #3’and ‘Stanford’.

How Much Room Do You Need For a Fig Tree?

Fig trees will grow to a height of 10 feet – 30 feet and will spread wider than they are tall. You will need to allow enough space for this growth. You can heavily prune them to keep them smaller.

Fig trees are productive with or without heavy pruning. With heavy pruning, fig trees can be kept as small as 6 feet in height, making them suitable to grow in pots.

What Fig Is The Sweetest?

The Black Mission figs and Honey figs are considered among the sweetest of the fig varieties. However, sweetness is best tested using Brix scores. Being the sweetest is not necessarily the same as being the best tasting, as taste considers texture, smell, acid overtones along with sweetness and a number of other influencing factors.

Which Is The Best Tasting Fig?

The best tasting fig is the Black Mission fig, however taste is very subjective and really open to personal opinion. The Black Mission figs seem to have the most votes however when it comes to general consensus of taste.

How Tall Does a Fig Tree Grow?

Fig trees can grow to a height of 40 feet, but generally are within a range of 10 feet to 40 feet depending on variety and pruning. With very heavy pruning you can keep your fig tree to 5 or 6 feet high and still produce fruit when in season.

Are Figs Invasive in California?

Figs are invasive in California as if they are not controlled, fig trees can crowd out native trees and shrubs characteristic of California.[3] Fig trees have the ability to out compete many native trees by reaching the top of the canopy then shades others out with its large leaves.

Juan & Raquel

We are Juan & Raquel, the guys behind Fruit Information. We've been interested in fruit over the last few decades and have been busy with improving our knowledge of the different varieties. I, Juan, have been almost a fruitarian for over a decade and almost solely living on fruits as my main dietary intake. My wife Raquel has worked on a fruit farm and also worked in a nursery and seedlings shop. She is a very experienced and knowledgeable farmer. We have recently undertaken a new Dragon Fruit farm with friends.

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