Violette du Bordeaux Fig or Negronne: Two Names, Same Great Fig

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Violette du Bordeaux Fig

Negronne Fig or Violette du Bordeaux Fig

I have not quite exhausted my fig fest of love and wish to offer up one more in the August lineup: Violette du Bordeaux fig (or Negronne as it’s often called).  I just picked this fig today, three days later than I picked it last year. (How’s that for consistent ripening.) If you’re thinking about growing one in cool coastal climate like the Pacific Northwest, you will likely be well-rewarded. Though only a three-year-old tree, mine has produced figs the last two years on a robust, problem-free tree.

COPY CODE SNIPPET

Negronne Fig or Violette du Bordeaux Fig on leaf

Covering a succulent and sweet flesh, the fig’s skin is so richly dark that in some light it looks black and in others a dreamy dark violet. If I only had two fig trees to plant, I would to plant a Peter’s Honey and Violette du Bordeaux (Negronne). No matter what moniker is used, I call them all delicious.

My young Negronne Fig Tree is branching out nicely; more branches, more figs.
My young Negronne Fig Tree is branching out nicely; more branches, more figs.

Dave Wilson Nursery describes Violette du Bordeaux as the following:

Small to medium size purple-black fruit with a very deep red strawberry pulp and distinctive, sweet, rich flavor. Brebas are pear-shaped with a thick, tapering neck, main crop figs are variable, often without neck. Medium eye. Excellent fresh or dried. Good for container culture or small spaces. Hardy. Self-Fruitful.

What I was blogging about a year ago (not surprisingly): Spotlight on Summer’s First Fig

42 COMMENTS

  1. Gosh Tom, Two days and no comments. I thought I might get things kicked off here a few remarks. 1) beautiful snaps as always, 2) so that is what a fig of biblical fame looks like, wow who’d of thought, 3) is there a reason we only see them dried up and nasty looking in the supermarket?

  2. Figs like this or so soft and delicate that they don’t ship well. My friend John, who is the sage of produce at Pike Place Market, said they were paying $1 a piece wholesale for quality fresh figs. Even with special care, he said half of the local shipment was too damaged to sell. As for the dried figs, soak those puppies in some brandy and it elevates their status post-haste!

  3. I found some fresh figs at Trader Joes in Tacoma this week, but as with all fruit, home grown is often best…that being said the dried fig w/brandy sounds interesting…how do you prep & serve?

  4. Jon, I’d just add half brandy and half water to dried figs and let them plump up, add sugar to taste and then sautee figs and all until syrupy liquid state and then spoon figs and sauce over ice cream, or pound cake or both!

  5. Thanks for the post. If you don’t mind I have a few questions:
    How tall does this variety grow? If it is above say 5 or 6 feet are you able to keep it short with pruning? Are there other dwarf varieties that stall smaller than 6 feet?
    I was reading in “The Self-Sufficient Gardener” by John Seymour that you can pour a concrete box in the ground to confine the fig tree’s roots. He does this because the root network is so large if you don’t it take too much energy to get the nutrients to the fruit. Have you ever tried this? Would this help in restricting it’s height?
    If it isn’t too much trouble, can you post a photo of the tree itself when you get a chance. Thanks so much and I look forward to reading more of your blog.

    -Shane
    ps, I am considering planting it in Portland, OR

  6. Hi Shane, to answer your questions:
    1. How tall does this variety grow? I’d say if left unpruned, about 10-15 feet at maturity.
    2. Can you keep it short with pruning? Yes, fig trees are quite easy to prune (soft wood) and to keep at a manageable height. Just remember, that next year’s fig is grown on last year’s growth, so prune prudently.
    3. Are there dwarf varieties? Yes, some stay naturally small, like the Petit Negri. In Portland, you have a warmer summer so it would like that, as opposed to the Seattle area.
    4. Creating a concrete box around the roots? This seems like a lot of a effort for little payoff. If the art of Bonsai can keep a 300 ft. Sequoia at 3 feet, I think a little pruning can keep your tree at the right height for your garden.I don’t think too many nutrients are ever a problem in growing a fig. I wouldn’t starve it.
    5. Can I post a photo of the tree? Sure, in the next day or two I will and unfortunately it’s branches only, but you’ll see how I prune it to be multi-stemmed for greater fruit production. I would not prune it so it has only a central leader. Good luck!

  7. If you were to plant only 1 fig tree, however, which would you plant? I don’t have enough space for two, but I adore fresh figs.

  8. Hi Tom,

    So I have my negronne in a pot in the garage and it’s beginning to leaf out. The garage is very dark. When do I bring it outside and how cold can it get at night without hurting it? I’m counting on you to hold my hand here, buddy.

  9. Annette, bring your Negronne fig out ASAP, in full sun where the rain will hit too. These guys are pretty hardy and should not be adversely affected by frosts or freezes.

  10. Hi Annette, I’d say in our zone 8 you really don’t need to put it in the garage, even if potted. So you can save your back and find a nice sunny place to keep you fig outside year round.

  11. Hi !. I am on east coast..N.C. Zone 7b. Please advise what frost zone do you have your Negronne? Thanks.. Enjoy life, Fred

  12. Hi Fred, I’m in Zone 8, but from what I’ve read the Negronne fig is viable in Zone 7. We have cool summers and winters with a few weeks under 20 degrees, though this last year we had a long stretch in the teens and Negronne seems to be doing fine. Good luck! -TC

  13. This is great info. The best I’ve found. My family bought me a Negronne fig for Mother’s Day (lots of hints). It’s about 3 feet tall with one little fig. Thanks for you’re insight. I’m looking forward to our first harvest – Lise

  14. Thanks Lise, it really is a great fig for me. I found it took about three years to take off, as gardeners say, sleep, creep and third year-leap. Oh and Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  15. Hi there, I’m debating on planting a fig tree in my yard. I’ve found a place with Negronne dwarf variety. Is the taste similar to Mission Figs? That’s my favorite thus far but I can’t find a dwarf version.

    • Hi Holly, I’d go with the Negronne, especially with your hotter weather in Oregon. I think it tastes very much like a mission fig, just juicier. I don’t know anyone growing mission figs here. It needs some serious heat to produce well, more at home in California.

  16. Hello,
    I have a negronne that I acquired in Oregon, and it fruited well for me; it is about 6 years old now. I moved down to TX Aug of 2008; had it in the back of my truck as I travelled thru the desert – it was compromised. It came back last year, but did not fruit – it was still healing.
    Now, this year, lots of new growth (LOTS), but no fruit. I am in Zone 5, will this tree fruit for me next year? When I pruned it, I got several starts.
    Also I heard that this type is a dwarf, and can stay in a pot. Is that true? My tree has been in the same pot for quite a while. Fertilized this year with bat guano. The tree LOOKS great, but where is the fruit?

    Thanks,
    Debra

    • Hi Debra, I love that you trucked a little bit of Oregon to Texas.

      Here’s my two cents and hopefully some answers to your questions.
      1. Fig trees produce fruit on last year’s growth. So, 2011 should be a good year for you if the tree is protected and there in no limb die-off from cold temps.
      2. Zone 5 is too cold for most figs (and me, too), especially Negronne growing in a pot. Protect your tree in a garage or out building that doesn’t have freezing temperatures. Don’t bring it into your heated home. The tree needs to go dormant and have a chill period.
      3. Your fig tree should do fine in a pot if given ample sun, water, fertilizer, drainage and winter protection.
      4. Here’s the site of a gentleman in the Boston area who grows cold hardy figs; check out Joe Morle’s site: http://www.figtrees.net/
      He has a lot of good info and cold-hardy fig varieties.
      Good luck to your (and your fig tree) in the the Lonestar State!
      –Tom

  17. Hello. I came across your website when I was surfing through gardening forums about fig trees. I live in Seattle and I have a cute back yard and I am insistent on bringing in a fig tree. I was thinking about the osborne prolific until I read your posts about the fig trees you’re growing right here in the same climate as me.

    Space is limited, and I’d like to grow it in a (large) container if possible. If you could pick just one fig tree to plant and love, which would you pick? Thanks

  18. Hi Nichole, you’re right, I’ve never had huge luck with Osborne Prolific. Figs do adapt to pot culture, but require good light, fertilizing and ample watering.

    I’ll give you three options that should grow well in a pot in Seattle.

    1. Desert King Fig: This is the most reliable fig to grow in Seattle, hands down. More info: http://tallcloverfarm.com/desert-king-fig-at-home-in-the-pacific-northwest/

    2. Negronne Fig: my favorite black fig, sweet, flavorful and easy to grow.

    3. Peter’s Honey Fig: my favorite ‘green’ fig. As good as Negronne, just different: http://tallcloverfarm.com/peters-honey-my-new-favorite-fig/

    I really recommend planting them in the ground though as they’ll produce more fruit and are less susceptible to winter freezes. You can maintain the size you like, quite easily with pruning the soft wood.

    Good Luck!

  19. I would love to grow them (and everything else) in the ground. Unfortunately my small yard has a severe problem – long story short – morning glory. I won’t bore you with the details. I suppose I could put it in the middle of one of my raised vegetable beds (4 x 4′). You suppose that would be adequate?

    Thanks for the response. Now there are three fig trees I want. Oh choices.

  20. Nichole, don’t let me desuade from growing a fig in a pot. You just get more figs if you grow it in the ground. Your raised bed would be great, but you won’t be able to grow much else in it.

    How about this. Try growing the fig in a pot first and if that’s not satisfactory, plant it in the yard or raised bed a year or two later.

  21. Hello,

    I have a fig that may be a Negronne but I am unsure.It was sold to me as Peter’s honey but definately is not.I have a picture of the fig’s it produced, might you be able to help me ID it?

    Thanks

  22. yo im starting a permaculture patch in rykerts,b.c. im hopin to locate a violette negronne cultivar within the inland temperate area for acclimatization

  23. Hi Tom,

    I came across your website while researching Negronne figs. I am considering purchasing a Negronne fig tree this spring. I live in central Mississippi, zone 8a. I would like to grow Negronne in a container. A couple of questions for you. 1) Will Negronne be OK outside in the container over the winter in zone 8a? 2) How large of a container should I plan to put this plant in?

    Your site is very helpful. Thanks for the feedback.

    Lisa

  24. Hi Lisa, your zone is fine for leaving Negronne figs outside in the winter. As for pot size I’d get as big of one that space and location will allow say at least 2 feet in diameter. Remember at least 6 hours of sun and good drainage, and feed regularly. Good Luck!

  25. Your help please.

    I think it’s this fig which grows in my orchard. The tree is very old now and really huge.
    My predicament is that the figs literally ‘rot’ on the tree.
    When I identify a ripening fig…within a day, the fig is soft, mushy and has worms. Totally inedible.
    The entire harvest lies moulding on the ground.
    Should I pick when the fig is still slightly firm? Is it good for jam? Should I spray? Something I have avoided so far.

    Will appreciate your point of view.
    Many thanks.
    Fleur

  26. Hi, I started a brown turk 10 years ago and had only a few figs from the bera, the second crop develops great but won’t get ripe. I live at the Oregon Coast but have a sheltered garden, the tree gets lots of sun but I never fertilized it.
    Now I bought a Negronne and want to plant it along the house to give it more shelter and warmth. What fertilizer is best, I mix in general the recipe Solomon has provided in his book “Gardening west of the cascades”.
    So please, help me a little to do the best for the tree and my love for figs 😉

  27. […] Violette du Bordeaux or Negronne FigTwo Names for One …Aug 24, 2009 … I have not quite exhausted my fig fest of love and wish to offer up one more fine fig in the August lineup: Violette du Bordeaux (or Negronne as … […]

    • Thank you yg_zh, sorry but the fig cuttings can’t be shipped internationally, based on Washington state (and likely federal) agricultural standards.

  28. Hi Tom- I moved from Connecticut to Wa 2 years ago and put a negronne fig tree in the yard in a sunny spot last year. On season 2 now and it’s doing well!! Thanks for your blog! By the way- I have 2 girl Bulldogs across from you in university place.

    • Welcome to Washington state! Glad to hear you and the “girls” and the fig tree are doing well in this corner of paradise. I do believe Buddy’s ears just perked up! 😉

  29. How to prune a way overgrown sprawling Violette de Bordeaux (taller than my house eaves now, I’d say it’s passed 15 ft. by a few) and when?
    If figs grow on second year wood, can I prune (back to what? back how much?) the branches that fruited this year without losing crop next year? Every year I’ve had smaller additional fruit that doesn’t grow or ripen along with the ones that do (is the immature the breva or is the one that matures the breva?). They dry up or mold if left on the branches. Should I just pull the immature off at end of harvest? Thanks especially for any advice on pruning in the Seattle area.

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