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Many gardeners believe that they cannot grow their own edible fruit. But many varieties -- blueberries, apples, pears, to name just three -- are remarkably hardy in a variety of climates, with harvest times in both summer and autumn. Still other fruits, such as limes and lemons, may be planted in the ground in warmer climates and in containers in cooler areas. Better yet, many modern-day edible fruit plants have dwarf varieties, meaning they can co-exist in a garden with fruits, shrubs, and other plants. To help you choose the edible fruits that work best for your needs and landscape, use the information in the Better Homes and Gardens Plant Encyclopedia. Research details on each edible fruit, including sun requirements, USDA Hardiness Zones, and growing patterns. You may also search based on common or scientific name, the best spots for the edible fruit plants to grow, and any concerns or characteristics that may need additional attention.
Apple is the most widely adapted of all temperate-zone fruit trees. A copious producer if it's planted in full sun and well-drained soil, a mature tree will supply several families with bushels of fruit. Many cultivars have chilling requirements that must be met for fruits to develop properly. Choose a cultivar that will thrive in your climate. Also, plant two or more cultivars that bloom at the same time to ensure cross-pollination and a variety of fruits, or choose a self-pollinating cultivar if you have room for just one tree.
Blackberries produce succulent fruit in summer on woody canes. Beware that the vigorous woody canes can become invasive if not pruned regularly. There are two distinct forms of blackberries -- trailing and erect. They may be thorny or thornless. Erect blackberries are hardy, stiff-caned plants. The trailing kind, also called dewberries, are tender and grown mainly in the South.
Tasty blue fruits and colorful red fall foliage make blueberries outstanding additions to the landscape. Use them in mixed shrub borders and perennial beds for structure and interest as well as fruit production.
Blueberries demand the right climate and soil but take little care if you provide a site suitable to their somewhat exacting conditions. Growing blueberries requires a fair amount of cool weather in the winter and won't grow well in mild winter climates. They grow best in full sun, and well-drained, sandy, acid soil.
Plant at least two varieties of blueberries for cross-pollination. The most commonly grown blueberry is highbush. Lowbush blueberries grow just 1 foot tall and spread by underground stems to form a dense mat.
A perfectly ripe fresh fig is a delicacy to enjoy and share -- if you can part with some of your prized crop. Native to the Mediterranean region, figs thrive in long, hot, dry summers but are easy to grow in the landscape or in pots and will often regenerate if they freeze to the ground.
Both you and the hummingbirds will love this easy-to-grow shrub -- as long as you don't have to get too close to it. Sharp spines line the stems and fruits of fuchsia flowering gooseberry. Plant it in a mixed border, away from a walkway or entry. Or tuck it in the back of a border where you can enjoy its flowers and fruit from a distance. The brilliant red fruits dangle like jewels from the stems for weeks. Its red, fuchsialike flowers bloom January through May in temperate climates and attract hummingbirds.
Fuchsia flowering gooseberry grows best in part shade or shade. It does not tolerate reflected heat well and grows best in a planting area that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. It will grow in a variety of soils and will remain evergreen when watered regularly during the summer.
Full sun and well-drained soil have the potential to produce massive, succulent clusters of red or white grapes. Sink your teeth into the sun-warmed fruit and you'll quickly devour the whole bunch. When allowed to ripen on the vine, homegrown grapes produce sweet, flavorful fruit that rivals any variety that you can purchase in the supermarket. Birds are also fond of grapes; plan to share part of your crop with winged visitors.
A sure sign of a warm climate, the lemon tree produces hundreds of sparkling yellow fruits. You'll always know when the trees are blooming thanks to the intense fragrance of the flowers; a single tree in bloom can perfume an entire landscape. Lemons grow best in western states where there is less humidity and the growing season is long and warm. Plan to prune the trees regularly to maintain a small size for easy harvest.
Famous for adding a tropical taste to pies, margaritas, and other tasty foods, limes produce flavor-packed green fruits on a small, thorny, evergreen tree. The flowers are lightly fragrant compared to other citrus, but still add ambiance to the landscape in spring when the trees bloom. Limes grows best in a sunny spot with sandy or well-drained soil with a regular supply of moisture.
Gardeners can grow dwarf varieties indoors in cold-weather climates. As houseplants, limes like a very bright spot protected from hot or cold drafts. Allow the soil to dry somewhat between watering.
Glossy green leaves, sweetly fragrant flowers, and delicious fruit make loquat an all-star small tree. Grow it in the landscape, or plant it in a container to grow the tree as a patio plant. In the landscape, loquat grows to about 20 feet tall and has a round form. Its large leaves give it an unusual tropical texture. Loquats' fragrant flowers debut in fall. The autumn bloom is a welcome addition when many other plants are resting after a long season of flower production. The sweet, juicy fruits ripen in spring. Bees and wasps are attracted to fallen loquats. Plant the tree away from outdoor living areas to avoid these insects.
Loquats grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. After establishing a strong root system, the trees tolerate dry conditions.
A nectarine is simply a fuzzless peach. Sweet and juicy, nectarines do not store for long periods of time, but they are especially flavorful and tasty when harvested right outside your back door. Choose a dwarf cultivar or prune trees regularly to maintain small trees for easy harvest.
Fragrant flowers, rinds, and fruits make oranges some of the most perfume-rich plants you can grow. There are hundreds of different cultivars. Look for a cultivar that fits your needs. For example, some are best for juice, eating fresh, or harvesting the rind. Choose a dwarf tree or shrub form for easy harvest and pruning.
One of the most popular homegrown fruits, peaches are vigorous producers of plump, delicious fruits. Peaches can be so vigorous you often have to thin the fruits in early summer to keep from stressing the tree. Pests can be troublesome, so choose pest-resistant cultivars when possible. Cold temperatures also thwart peaches in cool climates. Plant trees in a protected location that is sheltered from wind.
Pears are among the easiest and most attractive fruit trees for the home landscape. Lovely even in winter, pears are easy to prune and can be trained into a formal or informal appearance. For small landscapes and easy harvest, choose a dwarf cultivar.
These productive trees yield bushels of succulent fruits. Many pears need a pollinizer. Use any other pear. Be sure to select a self-fruitful type if you have space for only one tree.
Of all the stone fruits, plums are some of the most varied. They range from hardy little cherry plums and sand cherries to hybrids with the hardiness of natives, sweet European plums, and sweet or tart Japanese plums. Grow several different species and have fun comparing the fruits' taste and texture. You'll be surprised by the diversity. Plums are relatively easy to grow and the trees are a pleasing shape in the landscape.
Whether they are red, yellow, purple, or black, homegrown raspberries are full of robust flavor. The hardy and thorny canes of raspberry plants are easy to grow and very productive. Various ripening times and colors make it possible to enjoy harvest from raspberry bushes from midsummer through fall. Red and yellow fruits grow one or two crops on stiff, arching canes. Black and purple fruits grow one crop on trailing canes that require trellising. Raspberries grow best where they receive long cold winters and a long, cool spring. Well-drained soil is also a must.
Much sweeter than strawberries you purchase at the grocery store, homegrown strawberries are a flavorful treat that offer up produce throughout the season. The key is to plant multiple varieties. June-bearing plants produce one large crop of berries in June. Everbearing types produce two crops per season: summer and fall. New varieties of the everbearing type truly produce berries in spring, summer, and fall. Finally, day-neutral plants produce berries any time temperatures are between 35 degrees F and 85 degrees F. Instead of a large crop in June or July, you pick fruit from summer to fall.
A plump, juicy cherry is a luxurious treat. Whether you grow sweet or sour cherries, plan to share a few with the wildlife in your area. This is usually not a problem as a mature tree will produce more fruit than one family can consume. When choosing a cherry tree, select for disease-resistance and small size. The smaller the tree, the easier it will be to harvest the fruit.
Sweet cherries grow in the coast valleys of California, near the Great Lakes, and in the Northwest. They thrive where winter and summer are mild. Sweet cherries require a pollinator so be sure to plant two varieties. Sour or pie cherries are easy to grow for most home gardeners. The hardy plants are adaptable and self-fertile -- you only need one plant for fruit set.
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