Planting Figs In The Knoxville TN Area

Here at Willow Ridge Garden Center we get this question quite often: Can I grow Figs in this area and will they produce fruit?  The simple answer is YES you can and YES they will!  There are several things to take into consideration before you invest your time and money into buying and planting Figs.


First you must think about where to plant your Fig tree(s).  Figs like to have at least eight hours of sunlight each day during the growing season (March – October).  Figs need well drained soil to thrive.  The roots of the Fig are like a huge mass of tiny hairs in the ground.  If these roots stay too wet they will rot quickly and the plant will suffer.  Planting Figs on the south side of a building will help protect the plant from harsh Winter winds, as well as getting some radiant heat from the building.  Make sure to place the root ball at least five feet away from the building.  Once you have the place in mind where you want to plant, you can choose which kind of Fig to use.


When selecting Fig varieties, you will want to know:

  • How cold hardy it is
  • Is it self-pollinating (most varieties that need cross pollination will not set fruit in Tennessee)
  • What Is the intended use of the fruit (jams, canning, drying or eating fresh)

The climate here in East Tennessee is colder than what most Figs are adapted too.  Our Winter/Spring season has radical shifts from cold to warm to cold, and cold injury could occur in all varieties.  The two varieties we have chosen to review are cold hardy in the East Tennessee area.

Brown Turkey Fig

Cold Hardy to 10 degrees F.  This variety has a long harvest season and will produce fruit even if the plant is frozen to the ground the Winter before.  The large fruit is high quality, fine grained, juicy and sweet.  This fruit obviously has many uses.  It can grow 15’ tall x 15’ wide.

Celeste Fig

Cold hardy to 0 degrees F.  The fruit and overall plant size of this variety are smaller than Brown Turkey.  The fruit is high quality and great for fresh eating and preserving.  It can grow 12’-15’ tall and wide.

There are more than 60 cultivated varieties of Figs.  There may be other varieties that would do well in this area, as long as they do not need cross pollination.


The best time to plant Figs is when they are dormant, early Spring is preferable.  Figs are available either bare root or container grown.  When planting bare root Figs, cut the tops back to about one half their original length.  You will not need to cut back container grown plants, unless they are severely pot bound.  In this case you will prune roots and tops before planting.  Set your Figs root ball at slightly below ground level, back fill and water thoroughly.  Do Not Fertilize when planting dormant Figs.  Your Fig will grow satisfactorily in moderately fertile soils without any additional fertilization.  Winter injury can be related to the vigor of the plant.  A vigorous fast growing Fig is more likely to be killed by extreme Winter temperatures.  So if your Fig has adequate growth during the Spring, you should not use fertilizer.

Thank you for visiting Willow Ridge as your source for Fig information. Stay tuned for the next installment ‘Caring for Figs in the Knoxville TN area.  Stay tuned!