Fruits

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. View a list of fruits by common name or scientific name below.
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Strawberry

Dessert is right outside the door when you grow your own strawberries. Sweet and juicy homegrown berries are delicious in desserts, as well as the base for jams and jellies and for garnishing summer drinks and salads. Equally loved by deer, chipmunks, and a host of other rodents, strawberries need protection in areas that have high population of these critters. The effort is worth it when you harvest handfuls of sun-ripened berries.

Cherry

A plump, juicy cherry is a luxurious treat—for humans and wildlife alike. Whether you grow sweet or sour cherries, plan to share. This is usually not a problem—a mature tree produces more fruit than a typical family can consume. When choosing a cherry variety, select one that is disease-resistant, grows to the right size for your space, and is adapted to your local conditions. The smaller the tree, the easier it will be to harvest the fruit.

Cherries come in two main categories—sweet and sour. Sweet cherries grow well in the coast valleys of California, near the Great Lakes, and in the Northwest. They thrive where winters and summers 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 need only one plant for fruit set.

Raspberry

Raspberries are an especially rewarding fruit to grow. They’re delightfully delicious, packed with nutrients and antioxidants, and easy to take care of. Plus, it’s so much easier to head out to the backyard for fresh fruit than running to the grocery store.

When planning for raspberries, it’s important to make sure you have a roomy spot. They can get relatively large—so be sure you allow for them to grow and spread. It’s also key to decide what type you want. Red, gold, and black varieties are available, and you can get everbearing (also called fall-bearing) or June-bearing types. Everbearing raspberries produce fruit over a longer period in late summer and fall; June-bearing types produce a heavy crop all at once in early summer.

 

Plum

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.

Pear

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.

Peach

The sweetest and juiciest peach you’ll ever taste can be picked from your own tree. When harvested at the peak of ripeness, backyard peaches are loaded with the sweet gifts of nature with no concern about shelf-stability or long transports. There are many easy-to-grow peach varieties. Grow your own with these simple tips.

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Orange

Orange trees are a popular selection for gardeners in citrus-friendly climates. While grapefruits, mandarins, and acid fruits are also favored, sweet and juicy oranges are the most popular. In addition to producing tasty fruit, the trees have ornamental value, too. When in bloom they will perfume a landscape and a well-maintained tree makes a striking focal point. Plant an orange tree where it can be enjoyed from outdoor living spaces but far enough removed that any falling fruit will not create a messy problem.

Nectarine

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.


Fig

Figs often fetch high prices at the grocery store or farmer’s market, but it’s easier than you may think to grow your own—if you live in the right climate and have room for one or more of these shrubs. A large fig can produce plenty of fruit, giving you enough to enjoy along with leftovers to share with friends and neighbors.

Because they can grow into relatively large shrubs, figs can help provide privacy or create a visual screen with their dark green foliage.