Peter’s Honey Fig: My New Favorite

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Peter’s Honey Fig 
Peter’s Honey Fig with fig leaf

 Peter’s Honey Fig is thin-skinned and sweet as candy

Earlier in the week, I waxed on about a fig named Desert King; juicy, prolific, dependable and one of my favorites. This week I beg its pardon, and must swoon over my new best friend in the orchard: Peter’s Honey Fig. While I have no idea who Peter is, I’ll vouch for the sweet, syrupy honey-like quality of his namesake fig. And unlike the Desert King fig, which has a thicker green skin, Peter’s Honey is cloaked in a delicate gold membrane that melts in your mouth. This fig is basically one big sugar lump, but pick a day too early and you’re chewing on a cotton ball.

Peter’s Honey Fig Tree

A fig that stands on it own and deserves no adulteration

perfectly ripe Peter’s Honey fig

Peter’s Honey fig is perfectly ripe when the skin is golden on the top half, translucent and very soft and showing a few wrinkles.

[Tip: learn other ways to tell when a fig is ripe]

Update: More Figs to Love in the Pacific Northwest

This post received some wonderful and enlightening comments, ones that share some juicy-like-a-fig insight to better varieties for growing in our maritime Northwest. Check out the comments from David and Ram below, and in the meantime let me share the links, photos and fig choices opined by David. Great info and cool pics!

Black Madeira fig
Col de Dame Blanc fig
Kathleens Black fig
Qalaat al Madiq fig
Smith fig

Resource: Gene Hosey’s figs

Thanks David, for the delicious info and pics!

43 COMMENTS

  1. I was just reading through some recipes thinking about figs the other day. I often don’t find fresh figs here, but I think I will have to track them down. A good fig, as you say, can stand on its own. How delicious!

  2. Beautiful figs ! They are almost the size of small pears. We are getting two tpyes of figs from California in our store here in Miami. They are Black Mission and Sierra. I haven’t tried them yet. What do you think of those varieties ?

  3. Black mission are great figs but take more heat to ripen than the Northwest can provide even in a good summer. Sierra I have no idea about, so I’ll be checking those out! Take care!

  4. Birch will swoon when he sees how figgy things are with you. Maine is not fig territory, alas. So we’ll just have to feast our eyes on yours. Unbelievable!

  5. Hi,
    I’m on a “fig quest” as I have decided to plant my yard in fruit trees. I have ordered a green variety, so the birds will leave them alone, and I already have a brown turkey fig. But I know they take time to grow, and I practically faint when I eat a fresh fig from the tree. The store figs don’t do much for me, as they are tired. I saw Peter’s Honey figs, and now I am on a quest. I have seen a couple of websites that have sold out, and they are not cheap. I will continue to look for cuttings or rooted cuttings online, unless I can find a small tree without mortgaging my house. Loved your website. Thanks for sharing. I live in Florida. Am not sure where you are.

  6. I live about 1/2 hour outside of Vancouver in B.C. I bought the Peters honey variety from a local nursery and garden store here called Triple Tree. I’m in to my 2 year now with it from a small stock and it’s grown wonderfully. Unfortunately both seasons have been week summers so not much fruit has come to completion. I have about 25 figs on it this year and hope to get another bit of a heat spell to finish them off. Other than that I will have to wait for next year and hope for a better summer. They are beautiful though and taste incredible…the few I’ve had a chance to enjoy.

  7. Great to read all these figgy comments! I am a great enthusiast of figs but until now have only had any fruit on a small brown turkey I planted a few years ago. Large fig trees, probably brown turkey, were here when we came 8 years ago but have never had anything on.

    I live in Ventnor, on the Isle of Wight in southern UK. We have a sheltered micro climate so seldom have frosts (did last year though and even snow on a few days) but moderate summer temperatures due to the proximity of the sea. Probably not a lot different to Tom’s Seattle climate.

    We had about 20 decent sized brown turkeys this summer on the first tree mentioned; problem is, birds get them the moment they ripen so I have to be very vigilant. Strangely, the tree is now ripening a second crop of rather smaller figs – about 30 so far.

    The great success story is an Italian tree I bought as a standard last year; the first had very little root and soon died but its replacement has thrived and I was pleased to get 3 figs this summer. However, much to my amazement it has gone mad this autumn and from late October till now I have picked at least 2 – 3 figs (the size of small pears) each day! As the sun is a bit weak I pick them almost fully ripe and leave them on a sunny windowsill. They are a little tough skinned and paler inside than the brown turkeys but the sheer amount of crop makes it worthwhile; they are also good cooked with the large number of Bramley apples we have this year. Small shoots from the base have some roots and have grown OK when potted but could be from a different rootstock.

    I am about to order a couple more trees, probably a Peter’s honey fig if I can find one and a Violetta, which I have found in the UK.

  8. Thanks Trevor, appreciate the input, thanks for the comments.

    Keith welcome, and thanks for your comments also. Regarding growing figs on the Isle of Wight. I checked some weather sites and it does seem Vashon Island in Puget Sound is similar in climate to your Isle of Wight.

    I have a new favorite greenish-yellow fig that ripens nicely here: Latturula. Some folks say it is the same as Peter’s Honey, but I’m suspect of that assertion. They seem a little different and my Latturula is a better producer. I rarely if ever get a second crop of figs here though, so congratulations on your second harvest of Italian figs.

    I also have another tree, called a Vashon Violet, which was propagated from a neighbor’s tree. A fig aficionado friend of mine, said he believed it to be a Brunswick fig, again, a fine producer in cool climates. Kind regards, Tom

  9. hi everybody! I am a new here. bought my 1st Peter’s honey today. The tree has one fruit on. I live in Maryland, I am not sure that is a good time to plant my tree now? I would be happy to get your help. thanks

  10. Hi Alya, springtime is a great time to plant a fig tree. Give it plenty of sun, loosen up the dirt and dig a hole leaving a two foot ring around the tree and plant the tree at the same soil level as in the pot. Water thoroughly, and make sure it gets ample water during hot spells. Good Luck!

  11. Today, I got a Peter’s Honey fig with easily 2-3 dozen figs in various stages of development. It will spend the summer on a deck in full sun. It’s a beautiful tree form that was probably cultivated in Connecticut. I live on the mid-coast of Maine, now sometimes identified as zone 6. I’ve had brown turkey figs that spent winters indoors and never produced outdoors in the summer. In frustration, I left them in the ground with protection. The mice ate the barsk. So, back to an indoors-in-the-winter fig. I may keep it under grow lights, hoping to prolong the fig harvest.

    • Hi Prentiss, Good luck on the fig tree. You may even have it spend some time in a greenhouse to prolong its season. Do you know anyone with a greenhouse or hoophouse. Maybe keeping it there in the summer in a warmer environment will help it fruit.

  12. I was able to get 30-huge Neveralla main crop figs to ripen this year because of the long rare heat spell here in Tacoma. I also had it covered from head to toe on the S. side of my house in plastic for 3-mos. I had no breba crop on this 16yr old tree. Are there ANY good, reliable breba trees other than Desert King?

    • Hi Chuck, I’ve had luck with a breba, that is first crop, with Lattarula, White Genoa, and Negronne (Violette du Bordeaux). While the crops weren’t as robust as Desert King, the trees are still young and show promise.

  13. Hi Tom, I was just checking options for improving our Peter’s Honey fig crop when I found your blog. We’re a few miles north of Seattle in Shoreline, and have a tree that’s about 15 years old, planted with good southern exposure for maximum sunlight and a fence to the north. It tends to lose much of its new growth each winter, and sets only up to a half dozen of the early crop of figs in late spring, some of which drop before ripening. Very disappointing. By late summer, the tree’s looking very healthy, with lots of new growth and lots of green figs that never ripen. I’ve taken to cooking the less mature of these as a vegetable, just to get some benefit from the tree. Fertilizing doesn’t seem to help. Any suggestions? Did I just get the wrong cultivar? I’ve seen figs in the area that are loaded with ripe figs in late August.

    • Hi Earl, I tell you it is tough being a fig lover in the Pacific Northwest. Desert King is the best producer in my orchard, and a fig I like for jam-making and cooking. Peter’s Honey is a sweeter, thinner skin fig in my opinion. Don’t give up on your tree, it may require some prudent pruning as figs are produced on ‘new’ growth from the year before. Try two prunings. In the winter, prune out overlapping branches and dead branches. In the summer, tip prune branches that are gangly and tall. This will create more branching and thus more figs. As warm as this last summer was, it was not a good summer for my figs either. Go figure? 😉 Good luck and let me know what happens.

  14. I read in another article it was Peter Dana of Portland, Oregon who brought this Peter’s Honey Fig from Sicily.

  15. Hi Tom, I found your blog not that long ago. Very excited to see that you are growing figs in the Seattle area! I started with a Desert King tree 12 years ago and what fruits I get after the squirrels, birds and raccoons have had their fill are absolutely wonderful!
    I started trialing a few other varieties this year: Peters Honey, Violetta and Violette de Bourdeaux among many others. They’ve all put on a ton of figs. I’m worried that they won’t ripen given that our weather starts cooling in September. Are you able to ripen any main crop figs consistently up in our area?

    • Hi Ram, unfortunately, I’m not able to get a main crop with any fig variety I’ve planted, only the early breba crops. Even with this wonderfully sunny summer we’ve had, there are just not enough “heat units” in each day to thoroughly ripen the second crop of figs. I have some fig trees in my greenhouse, and under cover they will ripen enough to eat, but usually that’s in late October, so that tell’s you just how much heat they need…a lot. I’m trying out a new variety, “Olympian” along with “Stella” and “Vern’s Brown Turkey” so I’ll report back when I have my first decent fruit set. That may be a while… 😉 Thanks for checking in, and good luck!

  16. Amazing fig, and I get 2 full crops when potted in 15 gallon pots. Potted Peter’s Honey comes out of dormancy much faster and concentrates better on fruit production. I only have to root prune lightly every 2 years or so.

  17. David, where are you located?
    I am in the Seattle area with a first year Peters Honey. It grew extremely well all the way from 1 gallon to 10 gallon pot and is over 8 feet tall. It set several main crop fruits. But ripened only one fig , that too after we had the unseasonal cold snap in early November and dropping all leaves. The fig looked fantastic but tasted pretty mediocre.

    The other figs are clinging on the tree for dear life. But I dont think any of them will make it. I hope this tree does better next year.

  18. Hi Ram,

    I am in Renton. I have been a figoholic for a long time, and I have grown everything from the Black Madeira to Col de Dame varieties in Seattle. The key is to pot them and to bring the late ones like BM and Col de Dame in an insulated garage in late February to lengthen the growing season. I would send pictures to Tom but I don’t know how.

    The Holy Grail of all figs for Seattle is Qalaat al Madig from Syria, which ripens two crops with the first being in July. It roots like crazy and starts pushing out the Breba crop in April. It is a cross between Smith’s and Col de Dame Blanc but much earlier and far more productive. It is truly the sweetest fig on earth, and I got it from Marius on Figs4Fun. Another great early variety is Gino’s Black which will not spoil in the rain the way Violett de Bordeaux does.

    David

    • David, very nice to hear from a fellow figaholic. I started with one DK 15 years ago and then last year the fig disease bit hard.
      It’s great to hear about varieties that do well here. I am also growing Smith and Col de Dame Noir here: still young trees and haven’t tasted yet. As well as somewhat larger Black Madeira and Ischia Black in a grow room. The BM is full of fruits that should ripen by Valentine’s day.

      Unfortunately none of the above will really make it in ground, survive even, with the possible exception of Ischia Black which has an excellent breba crop and is cold hardy.

      Qalaat al Madig sounds very interesting indeed. Two crops is quite impressive indeed in our climate.

      This last year, I found Violet de Bourdeaux very good. No problems with the rain and extremely productive. Very nice tasting too. Two crops. But it was in a pot(10 gallon) which typically warms up better. I wonder how it will do in the ground. Some other very good figs I tasted at a friend’s place (he is also on figs4fun): Marseilles Black VS, LSU Hollier, Dark Portuguese, Hardy Chicago and Ronde de Bourdeaux.
      All of these are untested in the ground at this point.

      Other than commonly available varieties, I am also trialing a few breba only varieties which are supposed to be better than our local favorite Desert King: Grantham’s Royal, Dauphine, Grise de St Jean and Lampeira Preta. Of these, I have only tasted Grise de St Jean and it is an outstanding variety.

      At some point I expect to have cuttings to share with local fig growers to find ones that really do well in our climate.

  19. David and Ram, great info and David, I’ll email you so you can send me pics and I’ll post them here. I’m stoked to get my hands on Black Madeira, and even more so now, Qalaat Al Madig and Gino’s Black. Love this thread, thanks! Tom

  20. I totally forgot to mention one winner for our area: Nordland. This reliably produces two crops and the fruits are extremely tasty: like Vanilla mixed with honey! Raintree nursery sells these.
    I had our neighbors over in Summer for a fig tasting and this was even more popular than Desert King!
    It is very similar to another french fig called Longue d’aout. But somewhat larger size and similar flavor. Either variety would do well in ground here.

  21. Hi Tom,

    I have emailed you the pictures. The link I sent you to Gene Hosey’s fig varieties is so thorough that I would recommend posting a link to it.

    David

  22. Hey Tom, can you share my email with David so he can contact me? I am keen on learning more about what he’s growing successfully here.

    • Ram,

      I should document my growing methods here, but in general, the key is to bring the LATE potted plants into a heated garage in early February. I use a hand truck in late March when they have leafed out to put them outside on sunny days only 2 times a week, and then in late April I just leave them in my unheated greenhouse. I do this only with late figs: Madeira types and Col de Dame. This way I get a full crop in September.

      The rest of them I just let grow naturally. Honestly, there are 4 varieties I am going to grown in our climate: Gino’s, Qalaat al Madiq, Qudssaya (Syrian), and Peter’s Honey. They are as good or better than any exotic type but far easier to grow, much earlier, and more productive. Gino’s is a black fig very similar to Black Madeira but much easier to grown, which the other 3 are just sweet and delicious. Smith is great too but only a few ripen in October.

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