All About Growing Fruit Trees

Growing fruit trees organically is possible with the proper amount of care and attention. To bite into a fresh peach, or spread homemade apple butter on warm bread, is the epitome of a sweet, sweet reward.

  • Illustration Of Peaches, Apples And Cherries

    Photo by Unsplash/Harshal S. Hirve
  • Illustration Of Peaches, Apples And Cherries
    There are many types of fruit trees, and with a little research you can easily find the best variety for your region and tastes. Try growing apples for homemade cider or growing peaches for a heavenly summer treat.
    Illustration by Keith Ward
  • Tree Seedling Illustration
    When learning how to grow fruit trees, be sure to research trunk guards and pruning techniques.
    Illustration by Keith Ward
  • Cherry Pitter Illustration
    Special fruit-processing equipment, such as a cherry pitter, is useful when growing cherries on your homestead.
    Illustration by Keith Ward

  • Illustration Of Peaches, Apples And Cherries
  • Illustration Of Peaches, Apples And Cherries
  • Tree Seedling Illustration
  • Cherry Pitter Illustration

(For details on growing many other vegetables and fruits, visit our Crop at a Glance collection page.)

No plants give sweeter returns than fruit trees. From cold-hardy apples and cherries to semi-tropical citrus fruits, fruit trees grow in nearly every climate. Growing fruit trees requires a commitment to pruning and close monitoring of pests, and you must begin with a type of fruit tree known to grow well in your area.

Choose varieties recommended by your local extension service, as some varieties need a certain level of chill hours (number of hours below 45 degrees Fahrenheit).

Types of Fruit Trees to Try

Even fruit trees described as self-fertile will set fruit better if grown near another variety known to be a compatible pollinator. Extension publications and nursery catalogs often include tables listing compatible varieties.

Apples (Malus domestica) are the most popular tree fruits because they are widely adapted, relatively easy to grow and routine palate-pleasers. The ideal soil pH for apples is 6.5, but apple trees can adjust to more acidic soil if it’s fertile and well-drained. Most apple varieties, including disease-resistant ‘Freedom’ and ‘Liberty,’ are adapted to cold-hardiness Zones 4 to 7 (if you don’t know your Zone, see "Know Your Cold-Hardiness Zone” later in this article), but you will need low-chill varieties, such as ‘Anna’ and ‘Pink Lady,’ in mild winter climates. No matter your climate, begin by choosing two trees that are compatible pollinators to get good fruit set. Mid- and late-season apples usually have better flavor and store longer compared with early-season varieties.

Cherries (Prunus avium (sweet) and P. cerasus (sour)) range in color from sunny yellow to nearly black and are classified in two subtypes: compact sweet varieties, such as ‘Stella,’ and sour or pie cherries, such as ‘Montmorency’ and ‘North Star.’ Best adapted to Zones 4 to 7, cherry trees need fertile, near-neutral soil and excellent air circulation. Growing 12-foot-tall dwarf cherry trees of either subtype will simplify protecting your crop from diseases and birds, because the small trees can be covered with protective netting or easily sprayed with sulfur or kaolin clay.

11/25/2019 7:32:04 AM

Can anyone share resources for nursing fruit trees back to health? I just moved to a house with two pear, one cherry and one apple tree, and they are all in a sorry state. The fruit never makes it to ripeness without all kinds of rot and blemishes. No idea what variety they are, no idea what's wrong with them. Help!

Taylor Acres Homestead
11/22/2019 7:31:11 AM

I planted about 60 fruit trees last year and some year before last. I'm keeping them pruned to no taller than 8 ft so they can easily be harvested. Hoping to have a moderate harvest this coming year. We live in West Texas (Amarillo) so it's always a coin toss as to whether the weather allows us to get fruit or not. We usually get a late spring freeze which negates the apricots every year so far....I think this year is going to be a banner year for our fruit harvest!! We'll be posting videos on Taylor Acres Homestead youtube channel for those of you that might be interested. We love Mother Earth News and plan on attending the event in Belton, Texas this year! Can hardly wait. We'll be videoing that as well.....

10/3/2018 1:13:03 PM

We love fruit trees! Just wish we had more space to plant them and grow more fruit :) thanks for sharing

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