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It’s rare to find fresh figs in a grocery store, and when you do they tend to be severely lacking in flavor. Figs have to ripen on the tree and will only stay fresh for a few days, so they don’t travel well. The only option to get juicy, honey-sweet figs at home is to grow them yourself. But what if you don’t have enough space to plant an in-ground tree? Can you grow a fruit-producing fig tree in a pot?
Common fig trees grow well in pots, and even larger varieties will stay relatively compact since root growth is restricted by the size of the container. In colder climates, the potted fig can be moved to a sheltered location to be protected from hard frost.
Container-grown fig trees need full sun, well-draining soil, regular watering and fertilizing (learn about when to fertilize figs here), and the right size pot (not too big or too small) to thrive.
Dwarf and semi-dwarf fig varieties are bred to stay small and are therefore perfect for containers, but you can successfully grow just about any common fig tree in a pot. (For info on how to find or make the best soil for potted figs, check out this article.)
There are hundreds of edible fig tree species, all from the genus ficus carica (common fig). As long as the pot is big enough, you can grow pretty much any of them successfully in a container. But to narrow it down a bit, let’s focus on some favorite figs that do particularly well growing in pots.
‘Celeste’ (also known as Sugar Fig) is compact, cold hardy, and known for its pest and disease resistance. The fruit is very sweet with violet-brown skin and bright pink flesh, and it is delicious eaten fresh, preserved, or dried.
2. Little Miss Figgy
‘Little Miss Figgy’ is a true dwarf fig tree, staying only 4-6 feet tall even in the ground. It fruits twice a season, once in the early summer and again in fall. Even in a relatively small container, Little Miss Figgy is a heavy producer of sweet, medium-sized, dark burgundy fruit with red flesh.
3. Black Jack
The fruit of a ‘Black Jack’ fig tree is large, long, and purplish-brown with bright red flesh (similar to Brown Turkey). It is a semi-dwarf tree that is easy to keep compact (around 6-8 feet) when grown in a container. ‘Black Jack’ is a heavy producer of juicy figs that ripen between June and September.
4. Little Ruby
This little fig tree is perfect for growing in a small pot on a patio, naturally growing to only 3-4 feet high. The reddish-brown fruit of ‘Little Ruby’ is medium-sized and super sweet with a berry flavor. ‘Little Ruby’ reliably produces a good amount of fruit, especially considering its size.
5. Petite Negri
‘Petite Negri’ (“little black”) fig may start producing fruit when it’s only a foot tall. It is a natural dwarf tree that will grow to about 4-6 feet, and it produces two crops in warm climates. ‘Petite Negri’, as its name suggests, produces dark purple-black fruit with sweet, dark red flesh.
6. LSU Gold
The fruit from ‘LSU Gold’ ripens to a golden yellow with pink flesh. All of the fig trees in this series (including ‘LSU Hollier’ and ‘LSU Scott’s Yellow) were bred to withstand the intense heat and humidity of the south. ‘LSU Gold’ is a vigorous and heavy producer of honey-sweet fruit.
7. Violette de Bordeaux
‘Violette de Bordeaux’ (also known as ‘Negronne’) is a good choice for zones with a cooler summer. The figs are medium black-purple with dark red flesh, similar to ‘Black Mission’ figs, and have a strawberry jam flavor. It naturally stays semi-compact (10-12 feet), and grows will in containers.
This is a fig of many names, including ‘White Marseille’, ‘Italian Honey’, ‘Lattarula’, or ‘Lemon Fig’ in the south. Its fruit is pale yellow-green with amber flesh, slightly tart, and honey sweet. ‘Blanche’ is drought-tolerant, stays semi-compact (8-10 feet), and the fruit is delicious eaten fresh, dried, or preserved. Fun fact – this variety was grown at Monticello and was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson.
9. Brown Turkey
‘Brown Turkey’ (also known as ‘Negro largo’ and ‘San Piero’) is one of the most popular fig varieties to grow. It is a heavy producer of coppery-brown, light fleshed, sweet fruit. ‘Brown Turkey’ can grow large in the ground, but it tolerates heavy pruning and is very productive when grown in containers.
‘Ischia’ is a yellow-green fig with strawberry-colored flesh. It is a good producer in a relatively short growing season, making it perfect for growing in containers, especially in cooler climates. As a bonus, birds and squirrels tend to leave yellow/green figs alone, leaving more fruit for picking. (Other names and varieties include ‘Green Ischia’, ‘Verte’, ‘Ischia White’, ‘Ischia Black’, and ‘Ischia Brown’).
Other Interesting Varieties to Try
11. ‘Ventura’ – Compact, cold hardy, green skin with red flesh.
12. ‘Figo Preto’ – Vigorous growing, dark skin with red flesh, dark berry flavor.
13. ‘LSU Hollier’ – Medium-large yellow figs with amber flesh, high sugar content, heat and humidity tolerant.
14. ‘Chicago Hardy’ – Most cold hardy fig variety, large but does well in containers, sweet purple-brown fruit.