In September I moved to Arizona with my collection of figs. My plants are still young and small. I also acquired two new varieties since moving here. I have a total of 11 varieties of figs.
The climate in Arizona is warm and figs do great here. However the last few weeks have been unseasonably cool and in the last few days we have even experienced some frost.
Here are my observations on the frost sensitivity of different varieties. This does NOT mean cold hardiness. Instead I am documenting what I have observed regarding how easily the leaves of different fig varieties experience damage from frost.
The photos don't show the extent of the frost damage as clearly as looking at the plants in person, but they'll give a general idea of how the plant faired.
Here is my list, starting with the varieties that were MOST SUSCEPTIBLE TO FROST DAMAGE:
#1 Col de Dame
This is a young rooted cutting, so it may not be representative of how susceptible a mature specimen would be to frost. That being said, Col de dame was the only variety to have total dieback from the frost.
#2 Black Mission
In my experience it lives up to its reputation of being very sensitive to frost and cold.
#3 Desert King
I expected Desert King to be more resistant to frost damage. However there was extensive frost damage to the leaves all over the tree.
This is also a small plant started from a cutting, so it may not be representative of how it will do when mature. It had significant leaf damage.
#5 LSU Purple
It had quite a bit of leaf damage.
#6 LSU Gold
This plant has been a slow grower for me. It did produce nice sized fruit this year. Many of the leaves yellowed up from the frost. I'm not sure if they were really damaged by the frost or if the frost is just triggering the plant to go dormant. I don't really see damaged green leaves, but the majority of the leaves have been yellowed by the frost.
#7 Violette de Bordeaux
This is the plant that I killed with fertilizer over the summer. In the end it did survive, but is still quite small. Surprisingly, it withstood the frost pretty well. It does have some frost damage though.
#8 Marseilles VS
The plant has minor frost damage distributed here and there over the whole plant. Overall it withstood the frost pretty well.
#9 Jersey (my unknown)
This plant experienced frost damage on the tip of one branch where it had recently put out a flush of new growth, but showed no frost damage anywhere else.
#10 Hardy Chicago
Hardy Chicago was unique in that none of its leaves wilted or wrinkled up from the cold. However some of the leaves at the base of the plant turned a brown color in patches.
Celeste was the winner in my yard in terms of frost hardiness. It is the only plant that was smart enough to go dormant in the cool weather this November. The one yellow leaf was already turning yellow and getting ready to fall off prior to the frost as part of its dormancy process. The one green leaf it has left was undamaged by the frost.
Hopefully this info helps those who live in areas with occasional frosts. What have other growers found in terms of frost tolerance with their varieties?