‘Mission’ Fig – Growing in Georgia

Q: I saw black ‘Mission’ fig trees at a nursery a couple of weeks ago and started dreaming of plucking figs from my own tree and cooking with them. But I wondered if they’d grow well in Georgia. In the grocery, I’ve seen packages of ‘Mission’ figs coming only from California. Should I stick with ‘Brown Turkey’ fig?

A: ‘Mission’ fig can be grown in the South but I don’t know anyone who has one. It is harvested in huge groves in California. The fig from which Fig Newtons are made is the ‘Calimyrna’, which is really a ‘Smyrna’ fig renamed for its host state. It grows only on the West Coast because it requires pollination by a tiny wasp living there. Most other figs do not require pollination. As long as you give it protection from severe cold, a ‘Mission’ fig should do just as well as the common ‘Brown Turkey’ and ‘Celeste’ figs. I found a fascinating description of fig pollination online.