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Top Fruit Trees: Mountain Region

These late-blooming trees bring reliable harvests to mountain region gardeners.

It is a frustrating fact that late-spring frosts often nip fruit tree blossoms, damaging buds and preventing fruit set. Cultivars of apple, plum, and sour cherry trees, which have a habit of later flowering, can produce satisfying harvests.

Plums are among the hardiest of fruit trees. 'Stanley' is a self-pollinating, dwarf plum that grows just 8-10 feet tall. Fragrant and showy white blooms add to its ornamental value in spring. The sweet, dark purple prune-plums ripen in early September. Gardeners on the northern plains of Montana favor 'Pipestone', a hardy, bush-type plum hybrid.

Because it blooms late, the 'Haralson' apple is a reliable favorite. Trees are moderately resistant to fire blight (a bacterial disease) and very hardy. Expect to harvest juicy, crisp, red apples in September and early October. Fans of yellow apples should plant 'Honeygold'¿ a late-season, cold-tolerant cultivar.

Perfect for pie, tart and tangy 'Montmorency' cherries are ready for picking in early July. Plant one self- pollinating tree in full sun, in Zones 4-8. The cloud of ornamental white blossoms in April precedes dark green foliage and bright red fruit.

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