5 Fig Trees for USDA Zone 5 (Best Cold Hardy Varieties)

Last Updated:
Photo of author
Written By Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

This article may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you purchase via these links. Learn more.
Home » USDA Zone 5 » 5 Fig Trees for USDA Zone 5 (Best Cold Hardy Varieties)

Fig fruits are a Mediterranean delicacy that has been prized for their sweet, rich flavor and culinary utility since antiquity.

But like many Mediterranean fruits, the fig tree thrives in warm weather, which can be a pain for gardeners in cooler climates.

For gardeners in zone 5, where winters are long and can dip to -20 degrees F at their lowest points, the prospect of planting fig trees can be daunting.

But it doesn’t need to be!

Despite the heat-loving nature of most fig trees, there are still several cold-hardy varieties to choose from.

Here are five of the best fig trees for USDA zone 5.

5 Best Fig Varieties To Plant in Zone 5

1. Celeste (Ficus carica ‘Celeste’)

Celeste Fig Tree
Image via Nature Hills

Not only is the celeste one of the most popular cold hardy fig trees, but it is one of the most popular fig varieties in general. Growing more as a multi-branched shrub than a tree, this fig variety bears enormous lobed leaves that can grow to 1 foot across.

In summer they produce light brown to purple fruits that are known for their sweetness – so much so that the tree is also known as the ‘sugar fig’. This is also part of why the celeste is so popular, as it is excellent both eaten fresh and in preserves.

Celeste figs are convenient trees to grow for a number of reasons – they are self-pollinating, so only one is needed, and are naturally pest and disease resistant. While the celeste can be grown in USDA zone 5, the NC State University Garden Extension stresses the importance for gardeners in cooler regions to provide plenty of winter protection to avoid cold injury.

Other Common Names: Celeste Fig, Sugar Fig

Growing Zones: 5-10

Average Size at Maturity: 10-15 feet tall, with a similar spread

Fruiting Season: Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

2. Hardy Chicago (Ficus carica ‘Chicago Hardy’)

Chicago Hardy Fig Tree with fruit on it
Image via Nature Hills

Certainly one of the best hardy fig trees for colder regions, the Chicago hardy is a must-have for fig lovers in zone 5. Not only does it bear tasty small to medium-sized figs, but it will also look quite appealing in your landscape due to its bright, glossy leaves and silver-grey bark. It can also be planted in small gardens and in containers, which is helpful if you choose to move it indoors in the winter months.

This fig tree can withstand temperatures as low as -10 degrees F, which is higher than the minimum average temperatures in zone 5. Its roots will survive -20 degrees, but this still means that you’ll need extra winter protection. You can apply a thick layer of mulch in winter and wrap waterproof, insulating material around the trees to keep heat in.

Plant your hardy Chicago trees in rich, loamy, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH, in a location that provides at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Other Common Names: Chicago Hardy, Bensonhurst Purple

Growing Zones: 5-10

Average Size at Maturity: 9-15 feet tall, with a 5-12 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Late Summer to Early Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

3. Violette de Bordeaux (Ficus carica ‘Violette de Bordeaux’)

Violette-De-Bordeaux Figs
Image via Nature Hills

A highly sought-after dwarf variety, zone 5 gardeners will be pleased to know that the delectable violette de bordeaux fig tree can grow in their region, with enough winter protection.

This cold hardy heirloom variety is at the top of the heap when it comes to fig cultivation, due to its rich, delicious, and fragrant fruits that have a unique strawberry jam flavor, and the fact that it bears two crops – first in spring, and again in fall!

Since these trees rarely grow higher than 10 feet tall, they can grow well in limited space, as well as in containers. As if that wasn’t enough, the violette de bordeaux is generally low maintenance, with blissfully few pest and disease issues.

These self-pollinating fig trees prefer fertile, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH, in a location with full sun exposure.

Other Common Names: Negronne, Petite Negri, Vista, Valle Calda, Nero, Petit Aubique

Growing Zones: 7-10

Average Size at Maturity: 6-10 feet tall, with a 6-8 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Late Spring (first crop) and Fall (second crop)

Available at: Nature Hills

4. Brown Turkey (Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’)

Brown Turkey Fig (Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’) Tree and Fruit
Images by Fern Berg, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

Here we have another cold hardy fig variety that offers two bountiful crops per year. The brown turkey yields their first crop (known as the ‘breba’ crop) in early spring and the main crop in early fall. This variety is also one of the most adaptable fig varieties in terms of temperature, making it one of the best options for zone 5 gardeners.

Brown turkey trees can also be grown as ornamentals – they have wide-spreading branches that produce brownish-purple figs with sweet orange-pink flesh and deep-green leaves that turn yellow in fall before going dormant in winter.

Zone 5 gardeners may want to plant their brown turkeys in containers so they can be moved indoors for overwintering – according to the USDA Home & Garden Bulletin this variety is one of the best overall fig varieties for container gardening.

Plant your self-pollinating brown turkeys in well-draining soil with a neutral pH. Otherwise, you don’t need to be fussy about soil type – this variety grows well in almost all soil types.

Other Common Names: Brown Naples

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 10-15 feet tall, with a 12-15 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Late Spring to Early Summer (first crop), Early Fall (second drop)

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

5. Florea (Ficus carica ‘Florea’)

Fig trees zone 5 - Florea
Image by Chic Bee via Flickr (not exact variety discussed)

Another appropriately cold hardy variety is the florea fig, which bears brownish-green seedless fruits with pink-brown flesh in summer. It is also one of the earliest and most abundant fig producers, ensuring that gardeners get a high yield of delicious fruits before winter arrives.

These fig varieties do best in zones 7 to 10, where they typically do not have to worry about overwintering. However, if you want to plant the florea fig on your zone 5 property it is essential to provide plenty of winter protection to give your tree/trees the best chance of survival and a productive yield.

In some European countries, this tree has been known to survive temperatures as low as -15 degrees F without protection, but it is best to take precautions.

Make sure to plant your self-pollinating florea in rich, moist, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH in a location with full sun exposure.

Growing Zones: 5-10

Average Size at Maturity: 10-20 feet tall

Fruiting Season: Late Summer – Early Fall

Cold Hardy Figs For Northern Regions

As you can see, with the right cold-hardy varieties, even zone 5 gardeners can enjoy delicious figs in summer and fall. All it takes is knowledge of the right varieties and appropriate winter protection to ensure that your fig trees make it through the long frost season.

And if you need more fruit tree varieties beyond fig trees, consider these cold hardy fruit trees for zone 5.

Related Articles:

Photo of author

Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

Shannon has always loved looking after trees and plants since as long as she can remember. She grew up gardening with her family in their off-grid home and looking after her neighbor's plant nursery. As a child she also participated in native tree replanting, and as an adult has volunteered in reforestation programs in northern Vietnam. Today, she puts her horticultural efforts into tending her vegetable and herb gardens, and learning about homesteading and permaculture. When she’s not reading, writing, and gardening, she’ll be out fishing and foraging for edible flora and fungi in the countryside around her home.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.