A fig with multiple harvests and a high pest and disease resistance—does such a fig exist? Meet the LSU Purple Fig!
Growing from a vigorous, easy-to-plant tree, LSU purple figs will be ready to harvest sooner than you anticipate. And with the low-maintenance features of this tree, you’ll have no trouble caring for it as it matures.
Keep reading to learn about this sweet and bountiful fig!
Looking to buy an LSU purple fig tree? Check availability.
Characteristics of the LSU Purple Fig
The seedless LSU purple fig is 2.5 inches long with glossy dark purple to burgundy skin and light-red flesh. Unlike other figs, this one doesn’t have open ostioles (eyes) on its ends for wasps to pollinate them. This keeps the fig from spoiling too fast.
The tree is self-fertile and deciduous and grows 8 to 10 (as high as 12) feet tall and wide. It has wide, shallow roots and grows in hardiness zones seven to 10—suitable for hot and humid conditions.
Because of its high sugar content, the LSU purple fig is very sweet, having a juicy, mild flavor. In fact, once it’s mature, it tastes like maple sugar candy.
History of the LSU Purple Fig
This sweet fig was bred and introduced in 1991 by the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station. Since 1885, this research arm of the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center has studied and provided food to Louisiana.
The center had a fig breeding program, developing fig trees in Louisiana, until it ended in the mid-60s. A couple of decades later, researchers collected the fruit from those trees and studied their characteristics, which led to the 1991 release of the LSU purple fig, the first of six LSU varieties.
Learn to Grow LSU Purple Fig Trees
Sun and Soil
The location of the fig tree should be where it’ll receive full sunlight for six to eight hours a day. Before planting the tree, make sure the soil is loamy and well-draining.
Transplanting and Spacing
Once you receive a sapling, transplant it to your garden or 24-inch deep and wide pot. Dig a hole 2 to 4 inches deeper than the container and remove the plant. Spread out the roots, place the tree in the hole, and fill in the soil.
Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch on the surface to provide moisture and prevent weeds. If you planted the tree in your garden and have more trees to plant, space them 10 to 12 feet apart.
The LSU purple fig tree needs about an inch of water each week. The young trees need water twice a week until you some growth appears.
Feel the soil 2 inches below the surface to check if the tree needs water. If it’s dry, that’s when it’s time to water.
If your tree is not growing fast enough, try fertilizing it with a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer when spring arrives.
Read about our 5 Best Fig Tree Fertilizers to learn about the best source of nutrients to feed your figs!
Not much pruning is needed for the LSU purple fig tree other than removing weak or dead branches. The best time to prune is in winter or early spring.
Pest and Disease Control
The LSU purple fig is known for its above-average pest and disease resistance. Because this self-pollinating fig has closed ostioles on its end, pests and diseases can’t enter the fruit.
That doesn’t mean birds won’t try to feast on them. When the figs start ripening, you’ll want to cover your tree in bird netting.
The figs will ripen from July to the first frost in the tree’s first or second year. Harvest them when they’re a deep brownish purple.
Once LSU purple fig trees reach maturity, there are three times to harvest the fruit. You’ll harvest a light crop in early spring and a large crop in July. Finally, a small, late crop will be harvested in November or early December before the frost.
Wear gloves and long sleeves when you harvest figs because they secrete skin-irritating latex.
Ways to Enjoy LSU Purple Figs
Because it’s highly sweet, the LSU purple fig is great for fresh eating! Simply eat it as it is or slice it into your yogurt, fruit salad, or ice cream.
A fully ripe LSU purple fig is sweeter when it’s dried. You may use an oven, dehydrator, or natural sunlight for drying.
Drying these figs is also useful for storing them for later. You’d just need to put them in glass jars or freezer containers and place them in the fridge or freezer.
An LSU purple fig is an ideal fruit for jam. It tastes good raw, but the flavor is more intense when the (dried, ripe, or unripe) fig is made into jam. Spread it on your sandwiches, serve it with meats, or add it to your cheese plate!
Health Benefits of LSU Purple Figs
The sugar content in the LSU purple fig provides a natural energy boost and is free of sodium and cholesterol. Low in fat and rich in fiber, this fig is great for satisfying your hunger without overeating. Like all figs, it contains pectin, which lowers blood cholesterol.
For more information about a fig’s nutrition, read up on the Health Benefits of Figs on our website.
Where to Buy the LSU Purple Fig Tree
If you’d like to grow your fig tree, Stark Bro’s sells a 1.5 to 3 feet tall sapling.
The Resilient LSU Purple Fig
A fruit that’s low-maintenance and provides multiple harvests sounds too good to be true. For sure, it’s good, and thankfully, it’s true! With the LSU purple fig, it goes to show growing fruit trees can be fun and easy.
Visit our fig trees page to learn more about figs and the ways you can grow and use them!