8 Different Varieties of Fig Trees (Pictures plus Care Guides)

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by Max - last update on April 2, 2020, 2:00 am
Types of Fig Trees

There are over 800 varieties of fig trees in existence, all part of the mulberry (Moraceae) family. Most fig trees hail from tropical climates, as they prefer extreme heat and are intolerant of low temperatures, though there are some hardy species that can withstand frost. Some types of fig trees are grown for their delicious fruits, while others are cultivated for their attractive leaves.

Fruit-bearing fig trees commonly produce a crop of fruit twice each year, making them particularly productive and worthwhile. Most fig trees are self-fertile, which means they do not need to be cross-pollinated, and therefore you can grow your own figs even in relatively small gardens, as you will only need one tree to be able to produce fruit. Though most fig trees are flowering plants, their blooms are usually insignificant. In areas where fig trees cannot be kept outside all year round, they have become commonly grown as houseplants, though they will very rarely produce fruits when kept inside.

Common Fig

Scientific Name: Ficus carica

The common fig tree, native to southeastern Europe and Western Asia, is the most popular species of fig tree when it comes to cultivating these plants for their edible fruits (Missouri Botanical Garden). Numerous varieties of common fig trees now exist, with varying care requirements, hardiness, and resulting fruits. Some of the best varieties include:

Types of Common Fig (Ficus carica)

1. Brown Turkey

Brown Turkey

Scientific Name: Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’

Mature Size: Up to 30 feet

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-9

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Rich, well-draining

Special Features: Cold hardy

The brown turkey fig tree is a variety of the common fig tree (Ficus carica) and is a deciduous plant that can be grown as a small tree or shrub. It produces edible sweet fruits, which are among the figs you might find at a grocery store or farmers market. The fruits start out green but mature to a deep purple with a soft, almost velvety exterior. The fruits typically measure around four inches in length and contain rich, orange-pink, soft, sweet flesh.

The main crop of the year grows on new wood, ripening at the end of summer or beginning of fall. Another, smaller crop may be produced from new wood in spring. The plant also features large, attractive foliage, which is deeply-lobed. It is cultivated both for its abundantly produced fruit, but also for its ornamental look.

It is suitable for growing in a wide range of climates and is known for its hardiness, though it is still advisable to plant this tree against a wall or fence where it will be protected from winds. Mulch the soil each year to offer protection to the plant's roots, and help maintain a good level of moisture. The tree grows easily and quickly and should be pruned back to around two-thirds of its size at the beginning of each spring, focusing on old wood.

Make use of your pruned stems by creating more brown turkey fig trees, as these can be propagated from hardwood cuttings.


2. Celeste

Celeste

Scientific Name: Ficus carica ‘Celeste’

Mature Size: Up to 10 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-9

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Well-draining, rich

Special Features: Cold and heat tolerant

With the ability to tolerate temperatures as low as 15°F, this fig tree is known for its hardiness. It is another variety of common fig tree and is widely grown throughout the southeastern US, because of its capacity to thrive in both hot and cold climates.

The tree produces fruit following insignificant flowers, which are sometimes called ‘sweet figs’ because of their especially high sugar content. Fruit starts out green, developing to brown-purple when it ripens. Ripe fruit should be removed from their stems each day and can be eaten immediately or kept for a few days in a cool, dry place. If you want to grow your own figs, this tree is a good option as it is self-fertile and does not need to cross-pollinate; therefore, you will only need one fig tree rather than two to produce fruit.

The tree is medium in size, growing up to ten feet tall, though smaller if kept in a container. The foliage is large and deeply lobed, with each leaf measuring up to one foot in length.


3. Chicago Hardy

Chicago Hardy

Scientific Name: Ficus carica ‘Chicago Hardy’

Mature Size: Up to 15 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-10

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Rich, moist, well-draining

Though slightly less popular than ‘Celeste’ and ‘Brown Turkey,’ this type of fig tree is actually considered one of the hardiest of all the common figs. Its branches can withstand temperatures as low as 10°F, while its roots will survive down to 20° F In climates marginally colder than 10° F, the plant may die back to the ground over winter, but so long as the roots remain insulated with a layer of top mulch, then the plant will usually recover in spring, resprouting up from the buried roots.

This tree will produce fruit twice each year, with a small crop in spring and the main crop in early fall. The fruits are exceptionally sweet, with deep red juicy flesh surrounded by dark purple soft skin. Growing to a medium height of between ten and fifteen feet, this fig tree works well as a specimen plant in the garden but also grows well in a container.

 

Other Types of Fig Tree

 

4. Weeping Fig

Weeping Fig

Scientific Name: Ficus benjamina

Mature Size: Up to 50 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 10-12

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Rich, well-draining

Flower Color: Creamy white, yellow

Special Features: Showy flowers and fruits

This fig tree is popularly grown as a houseplant, though it is also suitable for growth outside in mild climates. It is native to Asia, Australia, and the Pacific, so it is ideal for growing outdoors in regions that offer similar temperatures. This fig tree is an evergreen that can be grown as a shrub or tree. It has gently drooping slender branches that are adorned with deep green, ovate leaves that come to a point at the ends.

In summer, the plant flowers with creamy to yellow colored blooms, eventually developing into small red figs that gradually become black-purple. Indoor weeping figs very rarely produce flowers or fruit, while those grown outdoors are able to fruit twice a year. In their native habitats weeping figs can grow to heights of 50 feet, while those cultivated in home gardens will tend to be smaller, though still reaching respectable heights of typically between 20 and 30 feet.

Those grown in containers or kept as houseplants will have restricted growth, having a much smaller final height. Outdoor weeping figs are best grown in partial sun, ideally with direct sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. As houseplants, allow your weeping fig bright but indirect light. These plants are able to adapt to a range of lighting positions, but they resent being moved or transplanted. Therefore, choose the best spot for your weeping fig so that you won't need to disturb it and potentially cause harm in the future.

This plant has won the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.


5. Creeping Fig

Creeping Fig

Scientific Name: Ficus pumila

Mature Size: Up to 15 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Well-draining

Flower Color: Pink

Special Features: Creeping habit

As the common name suggests, creeping fig is a climbing or trailing plant, which covers everything it comes into contact with. It is also known as ‘tropical ivy,’ and sticks itself to walls, trellis, fences, and ground, by producing aerial rootlets which grasp tightly onto anything the plant encounters. With such a vigorous growth habit, creeping fig can become invasive if allowed to grow without pruning. Keeping a watch on this plant and pruning it annually is essential to ensure it does not grow to cover other nearby plants or trees where it is unwelcome.

In spite of its relentless growth, this plant is a lovely addition to the garden. The foliage of the creeping fig is very attractive; it has a high gloss texture and is a stretched oval heart-shape. The plant bears purple fruit, which can appear throughout the year, in a small pear-shaped, though it tends to produce fruit much less often than other fig trees, making it a less messy plant.

It is native to East Asia and can be grown as a houseplant in cooler climates, though when kept indoors, it will rarely produce fruit. Position the creeping fig in a spot that is protected from wind, where it can receive a mixture of sun and shade.


6. Indian Banyan

Indian Banyan

Scientific Name: Ficus benghalensis

Mature Size: Up to 100 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 10-12

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Average, well-draining

Special Features: Epiphytic

This tree is native to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India, where it commonly lines the street. It is also one of the types of fig tree known as a ‘strangler fig,’ because of the way in which it grows. This tree can grow out of the cracks of an established tree, wrapping itself around the trunk and branches until it strangles the original tree. The branches reach towards the ground, embedding themself in the soil to root, creating their own trunk, which eventually surrounds the tree which they are growing on.

The Indian banyan tree is epiphytic, much like orchids, which means it grows on other living things. It is not, however, a parasite, as it doesn’t absorb nutrients from its host tree, and instead absorbs moisture from the air. Because of this, a humid environment is necessary for the tree to thrive. The foliage of the tree is large, with each leaf measuring up to 8 inches long. The leaves are thick and glossy, with a leather-like texture.


7. Cluster Fig

Cluster Fig

Scientific Name: Ficus congesta

Mature Size: Up to 50 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 10-11

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Well-draining

Special Features: Colorful foliage

This tree is also known as the ‘red leaf fig’ because its foliage is red when it first unfurls. The name ‘cluster fig’ is a reference to the way that the tree's fruits adorn its branches in tightly packed clusters. It is native to Australia and the South Pacific, enjoying consistently hot climates. This tree is not commonly grown outside of its native habitats; however, it is an important parent tree in many popular fig hybrids.


8. Fiddle Leaf Fig

Fiddle Leaf Fig

Scientific Name: Ficus lyrata

Mature Size: Up to 100 feet

USDA Hardiness Zone: 10-11

Light: Partial sun

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Well-draining, rich

Special Features: Unusual foliage

Like the Indian banyan tree, this tree is also considered a ‘strangler fig’ in its native habitat of Western Africa. It typically starts life in the cracks or crown of a host tree, eventually growing around it and smothering it, while sending branches down to the ground to take root. However, as an ornamental, it works well as a tree in its own right.

It thrives in warm climates, so it will need to be moved indoors overwinter in regions where temperatures drop lower than 50° F It is also incredibly popular as a houseplant, where it can grow inside all year round.

The common name ‘fiddle leaf fig’ comes from the plant's unusually shaped leaves, which resemble a fiddle. The leaves are thick and leathery and can be quite sizable, with lengths of up to 18 inches. This type of fig tree has been the recipient of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. Outside, it will perform best in a mixture of sun and shade. Inside, position the plant in bright shade for best results.


8 Different Varieties of Fig Trees (Pictures plus Care Guides)

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