The Top Five Fruit Trees for Backyard Growing
Turn your yard into a tasty orchard with these top-producing fruiting trees
There’s nothing like a fruit tree in the landscape to delight the eyes and nose with a show of springtime blossoms—and delight the taste buds with a summer harvest of fruit. Selecting the right kind of fruit tree to grow in a landscape comes down to two main factors: the varieties of trees that grow well in your area and your own personal taste.
According to Ed Laivo, fruit tree specialist for Natural Hills Nursery (www.naturehills.com), some fruit tree varieties have proven to be dependable growers in the widest range of climates and are better than others when it comes to consistent fruit production and flavor of the fruit. Here are five of Laivo’s recommendations for backyard fruit trees that will produce bushels of delicious fruit, year after year.
Honeycrisp Apple Tree
What’s better than biting into a Honeycrisp apple from a local market? Well, biting into a fresh apple picked from your own Honeycrisp Apple tree! The thought of that tangy sweetness and solid crunch is probably enough to make your mouth water right now.
A Honeycrisp apple is one of the best-selling fruits in food stores, and a Honeycrisp apple tree is a wise investment in your family’s health—and a great addition to any property. A flurry of pink blossoms covers the tree in early spring. Then yellowish green apples cover the tree in late summer and ripen with a red blush in September. But the fruits don’t immediately drop when ripe, so you can take your time in picking them.
This variety needs full sun and well-drained soil for optimal growth. To maximize fruit production, plant another apple tree close by to aid in pollination (such as Gala, Granny Smith, Empire, McIntosh or Red Delicious). This semi-dwarf tree reaches 15-20 feet tall, but it can easily be held to any size with pruning so it can fit comfortably into virtually any yard. A Honeycrisp Apple Tree grows well in USDA Zones 4-9. A 4-5-foot bareroot tree sells for $59.95 from www.naturehills.com.
Lapin’s Cherry Tree
A Lapin’s Cherry is one of the largest and juiciest of the sweet cherries, which makes a Lapin’s Cherry tree a great choice for backyard growing. In addition, a Lapin’s Cherry tree provides multi-seasonal interest in the landscape. In April, the tree is covered with brilliant white blossoms. When the blossoms fade, the fruit that follows in July is sweet, large, and dark-red to purple with light red flesh. Finally, in the autumn the Lapin’s Cherry tree will delight yet again with beautiful autumn color as the green leaves turn orange, yellow and red.
Lapin’s Cherry trees are self-fruitful and do not require a pollinator to set fruit in most regions. (A great universal pollinator, a Lapin’s tree is the perfect selection for those who need a pollinator for other cherry tree varieties.) The large cherries are 1” across, and the flexible skin resists splitting. The flavor is divine (often referred to a Bing-like) and is both incredibly juicy and sweet. The fruits are delicious right off the tree and wonderful for baking, juicing or drying.
The Lapin’s Cherry tree (which is a cross between a Van Cherry and a Stella Cherry) is cold hardy to -20 degrees F. It is also well adapted to warmer coastal climates. Choose a location with full sun and soil that holds moisture without becoming soggy. The tree grows to 20’ feet tall but can be pruned to fit smaller spaces. A 4-5-foot bareroot tree sells for $59.95 from www.naturehills.com.
Harken Peach Tree
The Harken Peach tree is best known for the superior quality of mid-season peaches it produces. Harken bears a regular crop of top-rated freestone peaches suitable for fresh eating, canning and baking. Each delightfully fuzzy, large peach has bright red and yellow-mottled skin. The flesh is yellow, very sweet and resistant to browning. For optimal storage, pick the fruit just before it is table ripe.
The Harken Peach Tree is admired almost as much for its beauty and fragrant blossoms as it is for its fruit. The delicate peach blossoms appear in late winter or early spring along the subtle grey branches, even before the leaves emerge.
Harken Peach is an extremely vigorous tree, attaining a mature size of about 18 feet with an equal spread. It is noted for its fruit production in areas with lots of spring rain, and the tree is adapted to USDA zones 5-9. Harken is self-fruitful, so you can start with just one tree if you like. Harken Peach is an outstanding choice for a lovely fruit tree that produces exceptionally delicious peaches. A 4-5-foot bareroot tree sells for $59.95 from www.naturehills.com.
Warren Pear Tree
It’s not very often you get a fruit that is praised by the likes of Alice Waters, Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey as the most delicious pear in the world. Celebrity testimonials are just one reason the Warren Pear is so highly sought after. Warren Pear is an outstanding semi-dwarf pear tree that brings a late summer harvest of sweet, juicy fruit even in areas where pears are traditionally difficult to grow.
Originally found in a neglected orchard in Mississippi (not a state usually associated with pear growing), these hardy trees are resistant to fire-blight and other diseases that so often plague pears in warm winter areas. The medium sized, yellow fruit has a lively green tint and an occasional red blush. The pears are beautiful dangling amid the sturdy upright branches of a mature Warren Pear tree. This is one of the finest-flavored pears available for home growing. Warren Pear grows in USDA zones 5-10. A 4-5-foot bareroot tree sells for $59.95 from www.naturehills.com.
Santa Rosa Plum Tree
Santa Rosa Plum tree is one of the most widely planted plum varieties. Quite simply, it has become the “plum standard” by which all other plums are judged. Plant one in the front yard where your friends and neighbors can share in the beauty of its blooms and the abundance of fruit. Lovely pink and white blossoms set the stage in springtime for the Santa Rosa Plum tree’s delectable harvest in late July or August. The red-hued, purple skin of these lovely plums conceals a layer of red blush, then sweet, yellow flesh surrounding the center pit.
The medium-large slightly firm plums are perfect for canning, freezing, cooking, drying—or eating right off the tree. Santa Rosa’s flavor is sweet with a slight tangy edge, perfect for a variety of uses.
Santa Rosa Plum Tree grows 15-25 feet in height, but it can be held to any size with simple pruning. It’s a relatively hardy tree and is particularly adapted to areas with hot summer temperatures. It’s self-fruitful, so there’s no need to plant another plum tree to enjoy a healthy harvest. Santa Rosa is quite often the recommended pollinizer for many popular plum varieties. A 4-5-foot bareroot tree sells for $59.95 from www.naturehills.com.
For more information about the wide variety of fruit trees, shade trees and shrubs available for growing in the USA, visit www.NatureHills.com.