Yes, I can assure you that it is possible to cultivate the common fig or Ficus carica, in ground, to an altitude of 600 meters or more in the Northern Alps and to harvest tasty fruits !
Which gardener did not dream one day, to harvest his own figs, filled with honey, melting in the mouth, magnificent, in his garden, so cold and snowy in winter, so far from the Mediterranean sea ?
I was really surprised that so many gardeners simply had moved on to other fruit trees. Who could blame them ? The fig leaves are certainly decorative and perfumed, the tree is simply beautiful, but when fruits do not ripen, the desire of sweet delights fades away.
The reasons for failure are numerous and are often due to cultivation mistakes, but in (too) many cases, the problem is linked to the cultivar selection. After years of trials and failures, I understood that the variety selection is probably the most important element to successfully growing this fruit, as sometimes the problems encountered with a specific cultivar, can completely disappear with another variety.
In 1955, the variety research study carried out by Ira J. Condit, in the United States, was published in the Hilgardia Journal, entitled, Fig Varieties: A Monograph, in which approximately 700 fig and caprifig trees were catalogued. In reality, there are even more spontaneous varieties around the Mediterranean area and there exists now, many new cultivars developed by several agronomic research centers in the United States. Lots of cultivars were never tested in cold areas and the hope to find exceptional varieties remains intact !
I was this gardener who had dreamed to harvest his own figs, filled with honey, melting in the mouth, magnificent, in his garden. Now I stopped dreaming as I taste my own figs in the Northern Alps, in Haute-Savoie (France), close to the canton of Geneva (Switzerland).
My winters are moderately cold, but during cold years, the night temperature can drop below -15°C. Despite the climate rigor, the breba crop fruits of some cultivars resist very well and they do not need to blush when compared with brebas from the South.
What about my summers ? Well, they are short, often rainy and fresh, the middle of summer already resemble to the autumn. It is a true challenge to successfully growing main crop figs, but a good cultivar can make the difference, no ?
This site was designed with the intent of regrouping and sharing articles about fig trees, more specifically about their adaptability to cold areas. I also wanted to provide information collected and observed on various cultivars, some more famous than others, in the open ground, with minimum protection.
The site is often enhanced and all observations are active but can change over time and according to test results.
Helping the planet by planting a tree is really good, but don’t forget to also plant fig trees! They really deserve it.