Figs are a delicious, exotic tasting fruit that many people don’t know can be grown right here in Connecticut. Yes, our winters are too harsh for this warmer climate plant but with a little know how and some effort, you can grow a successful fig crop year after year.

Violette de bourdeaux is a popular variety of purple fig Photo: C. Johnson

Selecting a variety

While no one variety is completely resistant to the cold temperatures we experience as New Englanders, there are some varieties that are more resilient than others. Chicago hardy, Brown turkey, Celeste, and White Marseilles are just a few examples. Flavor preference is another factor to consider after cold hardiness. Figs range from light green, to brown, to dark purple, with some variation in size between varieties. If you’re not sure what you like, you might try looking in the produce aisle of your local grocer and see if there’s a range to sample from there. Although this is rarely the case, most grocery stores in New England will only carry figs seasonally and even then, it is a narrow selection. This only adds to the appeal for home gardeners wanting to produce their own crop. There is a large market for purchasing pre-established plants of all different fig cultivars. However, many fig enthusiasts choose to share cuttings among each other as this plant propagates so easily.

A semi hardwood cutting showing root proliferation.
Photo: C. Johnson


Figs can be propagated via vegetative cutting with relative ease. Green cuttings tend to be less successful than woodier cuttings with the sweet spot being at about 1 year old. At that age, the propagule will have some woodiness to it but not so much that it is no longer pliable. Cuttings can be taken almost any time of year but semi dormant to fully leafed out branches are ideal. Some rooting hormone and placing shallow wounds on either side of the stem can go a long way towards rooting (as seen in the photo).

Growing conditions

Figs do best in a hot, full sun location. If you are planting in the garden or placing in a container, be sure to give them as much sun and warmth as possible. A relatively fast draining media will also go a long way towards producing a healthy fig crop as figs prefer not to remain wet for extended periods of time. Figs do well in moderately fertile soils with minimal need for fertilization in the garden. Plants grown in containers will experience a higher rate of nutrient leaching and therefore will require some fertilization during the growing season.

A spring breba crop on Ficus carica ‘Ischia’. Photo: D. Nordby


Figs are not adapted to our cold winters so measures must be taken to protect these plants during the cold season to ensure they survive to see spring again. Techniques for overwintering figs range in difficulty and complexity. The simplest option, which mainly applies to container plants, is to simply move them into a semi heated structure such as a garage or basement. This can be done with plants that are in the ground by digging them up and wrapping the root ball. There are also several methods of mulching and wrapping that have been proven to be successful. Overwintering methods have been covered in depth by Dr. Charles R Vossbrinck at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. See his article here.

Symptoms of mosaic virus showing on Ficus carica ‘letizia’. Photo: D. Nordby

Pests and diseases

The two most common diseases of figs in Connecticut are rust and fig mosaic virus. Rust can be prevented through good moisture management practices. Pruning and spacing plants to increase air flow as well as careful watering to keep foliage dry will go a long way towards preventing rust. Mosaic virus can cause some decline in overall plant health and appearance, but healthy plants often outgrow this virus. Be sure to clean pruners with rubbing alcohol in between cuts to prevent the spread of this virus.

C. Johnson