By Jackie Carroll
When you consider the number of fig tree varieties available, choosing the right one for your garden is a daunting task. Most home landscapes have room for only one tree, and you want a fig tree that produces an abundance of sweet, tender figs with a minimum of fuss. Here are some suggestions to help you make the right choice.
How Many Types of Fig Trees are There?
There are over 700 named varieties of fig trees, but many of them are of no use to home gardeners. All of the varieties fall into four fig types:
- Caprifigs – Caprifigs only produce male flowers and never bear fruit. Their only purpose is to pollinate female fig trees.
- Smyrna – Smyrna figs bear all female flowers. They have to be pollinated by a caprifig.
- San Pedro – San Pedro figs bear two crops: one on leafless mature wood that requires no pollination and one on new wood that requires pollination by a male flower.
- Common figs – Common figs are the type usually grown in home landscapes. They don’t need another tree for pollination. Figs that require pollination have an opening that allows the pollinating wasps entry the internal flowers. Common figs don’t need an opening, so they are less susceptible to rot caused by insects and rainwater entering the fruit.
Here are some different types of figs in the common group that perform well in home gardens:
- Celeste is a small to medium-size brown or purple fig that grows on a fairly large tree. It produces dessert quality fruit that ripens earlier than most other figs.
- Alma figs aren’t much to look at but the fruit has excellent, rich flavor. It ripens late in the season.
- Brown Turkey produces a crop of large, tasty figs over a long season. The fruit has attractive flesh and few seeds.
- Purple Genca, also called Black Genoa or Black Spanish, is a large, deep purple variety with sweet, red flesh.
One of the best ways to find a variety suitable to your area is to visit a local nursery. They will carry fig types suitable for your climate and can make recommendations based on local experience.