Learn how to grow an edible fig tree in cold regions and learn why this is my favorite fruit tree to grow in the Midwest.
Didn’t think you could grow a fig tree or enjoy a fresh delicious fig from the comfort of your own home? Well chances are, you can.
Missouri Fruit Trees
When you think about growing fruit trees in Missouri or the Midwest, you likely think of apple, peach, plum, apricot, nectarines, pear, or cherry.
Fruit trees are typically not carefree trees and require consistent spraying with a variety of general purpose sprays, dormant sprays, fungicide and insecticidal sprays to hold off pests and diseases.
I have apple, peach, plum, and cherry trees and have adopted a more organic approach to spraying. I don’t like the idea of pesticides on my fruit, so I made a commitment to avoid them.
Which means to date, I’ve only had success with the cherry tree which produces fruit early in the season and isn’t as susceptible to pests and diseases.
I find spraying (even with organic sprays) to be a trying process as you need to spray at specific times during the tree’s annual cycle, on a day that has little wind, and no rain.
This is Missouri where the weather rarely does what you need, when you need it. Life happens and I tend to miss my window.
Which means no apples or peaches for me. Nor plums because they bud early and I forget to cover it with a frost cloth.
Why Fig trees are my favorite fruit tree to grow
Several years ago I bought my first fig tree from a Missouri nursery.
If you’re like me, then you probably thought fig trees could only be grown in more temperate climates like the Mediterranean or Southwest Asia. However, there are cold weather figs that can be grown in USDA zones 5-10.
If you have ever had a fresh fig you will understand why this is so exciting. They are delicious!
So I left the nursery with my new tree in hand, planted it in the ground, and imagine my amazement when I had a hand full of figs the first season and not a pest in sight! No spraying and I got fruit? I thought it was too good to be true…until the next season came around and I had the same result.
So I went out and bought another one!
The Chicago Hardy Fig tree
The variety I have is likely the Chicago Hardy Fig. Like its name implies, it is a cold hardy fig tree that produces a deep purple mahogany colored flesh with a bright fuschia sweet interior.
How and where To Plant Fig Trees
Fig trees can be grown in a container or planted in the ground. Just remember to bring your tree in for the winter if it is in a pot.
I chose to plant mine in the ground. These trees really do well in just about any type of soil, so very little soil preparation is needed.
They typically do best when planted in a sheltered area along a south facing wall. Full sun is a requirement for these trees to do well.
The amount of fruit you get will depend on the amount of wood that survives over the winter.
If you have a mild winter and the old wood survives, then you will have a summer harvest on old wood and a second harvest in early fall on the new wood. In colder climates, the tree may die back to the ground and only produce fruit once the new growth emerges.
It is recommended to hold off pruning until May so you can tell which wood has died off and which has made it through the winter. You can increase your chances of the old wood surviving the winter by wrapping the tree with a layer of insulation. I have yet to try this method but plan to attempt it this winter. I’ll update you next Spring!