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The Chicago Fig

This is one of our latest editions to our Sustainable Food listing. Finally, an edible fig for our climate. The Chicago Fig, Ficus carica, is considered one of the most hardiest edible figs. The origins of its name comes from the Sicilians who brought the original edible figs from Mount Edna and settled in the Chicago area.

Ficus carica
Ficus carica

Even though this fig is extremely cold tolerant it is probably best to grow these trees in a container that you can overwinter in an unheated sun room or garage. Dormant figs do not require much light.

In the spring flowering will start. The Chicago Fig is self fertile and does not need to cross pollinate. By early summer, figs will be borne on the older wood and by Fall the figs will be produced on the new growth. The fruit is lovely purple and delicious. In order to have the most delicious figs, never pick the figs green. Allow them to ripen to purple on the plant. I warn you. Squirrels will try to harvest the fruit before you!

Chicago Fig Fruit
Fig fruit

Figs love sun so place them in a full to partly sunny location. In order to have fruit production, there must be a minimum of 8 hours sunlight. They can attain heights of 10 – 15 feet and widths of 9 – 12 feet. It is up to you how you shape your fig. Some gardeners grow figs as a single trunk tree or multiple stemmed bushes. Virtually pest and disease free.

Though figs are quite heat tolerant, keep on top of the watering. In the heat of the summer, their leaves will droop when they are thirsty. Time to water. Don’t let the plants become water stressed since they will abort their fruit. No need to heavily fertilize. Just make sure to plant them into containers with rich, moist well drained soil.

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