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All Things Garden,  Beginner Basics

How to Choose What Fruit Trees to Plant: Climate, Varieties & More

Figs. Persimmons. Apples. Lemons. Avocados. Loquats. Mulberries. Guavas. Limes… Is your mouth watering yet? Yeah, mine too. These are just a few of the types of fruit trees that we have in our yard. Or as we prefer to think of it – our food forest. In just six years on this homestead, we have planted over 20 trees! While you may not be able to grow all of the same types of fruit trees in your location, you will surely be able to grow some – including varieties that we cannot! Ornamental trees are also welcome additions to any homestead, as they provide shelter and habitat for wildlife. Also, privacy from neighbors.

Let’s dig into some of the factors you’ll want to consider when choosing the best trees for your garden! This article will explore common tree growing requirements, concepts such as chill hours and cross-pollination, and examples of cold-hardy and heat-loving tree varieties. I will also provide recommendations for growing trees in containers, and where to source them from! 


For tips on how to properly plant new trees, check out this article!



HOW TO CHOOSE A TREE FOR YOUR SPACE



Edible or Ornamental?


Edible Trees

I am always a proponent of planting edibles! Growing fruit trees is an excellent way to augment your supply of homegrown food beyond a traditional vegetable garden, and usually easier to manage! Even more, you can choose an array of fruit tree types that bear fruit at different times of year, further extending your harvests. As your fruit trees mature and provide a larger bounty, you can enjoy preserved homegrown fruit in many ways – dried, jams, fruit butters, frozen, fermented (apple cider vinegar, anyone?) or in beverages such as kombucha. And that isn’t even getting into the potential to grow nuts at home.

You may love your fruit, but so will the local wildlife! Keep in mind that fruit trees can sometimes be a little more work than ornamentals, especially if you have squirrels, birds, rats, and other “pests” to contend with. You may find the need to get creative and protect your tree, such as netting or bagging the ripening fruit. Or, if you have plenty to spare, feel free to share it with your local wild friends.

Fruit trees will enjoy more routine organic fertilizer and compost than ornamentals as well. 


Two ripe green skinned Desert King figs hanging from a branch. One of them is so ripe it is dripping with sugar. The suns rays are filtering in from behind them.
Desert King Figs. They’re green-skinned figs that fully ripen without turning rosy-colored like many other figs. This means wild birds usually miss the signal that the fruit is ripe, and leave them alone! The Desert King is our favorite of all figs, which grows well here on the temperate Central Coast, or even in the PNW! Unlike some heat-loving figs, she ripens up just fine for us in our cooler foggy summers.


Ornamental Trees

Speaking of wildlife, ornamental trees are also extremely important in this regard! They play a critical role in a thriving local ecosystem, particularly native trees. Our California Sycamore is a prime example, as a preferred habitat for both hummingbirds and monarch butterflies. They are in it all the time! I highly suggest you seek out trees that are known to support local wildlife. To learn more about creating a wildlife-friendly garden, and even becoming a Certified Wildlife Habitat like our little non-rural property is, check out this article!

Ornamental trees can also be very attractive for those seeking privacy.  They can oftentimes be quicker-growing, larger, and more evergreen than many fruit trees. We have planted large ornamental trees, like a California Pepper Tree, as a way to quickly block out a neighbor’s house that loomed over our front yard. Similar to the Sycamore, the Pepper tree is another happening hummingbird hang out.

While ornamentals may not feed you directly, many of them produce blooms that feed pollinators – always a wonderful thing, in my book! Some of their blooms are irresistible to humans too. When our dwarf Magnolia is in bloom, I can’t keep my face out of it! If you’re interesting in helping to boost your local pollinator population, check out our list of Top 23 Plants for Pollinators.


A close up photo of a hummingbird perched on a slender limb of a California Sycamore tree. The birds feet are wrapped around the slender limb like clenched fists. The bird has a black beard fading into a grayish green chest. The edges and tips of its wings are black and the back is an emerald green.
A hummingbird resting in our California Sycamore – the first tree we ever planted on this homestead! The smallest branches are perfect for little hummer feets!


Edible or ornamental, this world needs and will appreciate more trees. You can’t go wrong.



TREE GROWING CONDITIONS


When you’re in the market for trees, you’ll want to keep several things in mind. One is pretty obvious: What are the growing requirements of the tree you are interested in? Do some research before making a purchase. Does the tree need full sun, or protection from wind or frost? Ample or modest water? Warm conditions to bear fruit?

Check to see if that particular tree will be happy growing in your hardiness zone. For example, we are located on the border of USDA zone 9b -10a. The description or tag of the tree should specify the zones it is best suited for. If you aren’t sure what hardiness zone you are located in, enter your zip code here for a quick and easy answer! Also, take a look around your neighborhood. What types of trees do you see growing? That will give you an idea of what grows well in your area.

Beyond the suitable growing zones, which sort of broadly lump similar climates together, many fruit trees will also have more specific “chill hours” requirements 


Fruit Trees & Chill Hours

It is probably common sense that heat will influence a fruit trees productivity. Certain types of fruit trees crave heat and cannot tolerate harsh freezing weather, such as citrus, bananas, and mangoes. On the other hand, did you know that a lot of fruit trees need cold weather to bear fruit too? Without the right amount of exposure to cold temperatures, also known as chilling hours, the trees blossom development is altered and can lead to shoddy crops. 


What are chill hours exactly?


Trees listen for the signal that winter has arrived. They rely on “chill hours”, or vernalization, to break dormancy. Chill hours occur when the temperature stays between 32°-45°F. The hormone responsible for dormancy breaks down in this range, allowing buds to develop into flowers or foliage when the weather warms up in late winter. These hours are cumulative and need not be continuous. Interestingly, temperatures below 32°F are ineffective and do not count. Daytime temperatures above sixty degrees during this period may be subtracted and negatively affect the cumulative total.

UC Master Gardeners and Bay Laurel Nursery, on chill hours


Nut trees and stone fruit (plums, apricots, nectarines and peaches) are classic examples of trees that usually have high chill hour requirements. Yet if you live in a temperate location with few chill hours, don’t lose hope! There are many varieties within a type of fruit tree that require less, also known as “low chill” varieties. For example, the “Sunshine” variety of blueberries we grow require the least amount of chill hours of all blueberry types, so we’re able to grow them here successfully in our virtually frost-free climate! Blueberries grow on bushes as opposed to trees, but the same idea applies. 


Here is a list of low-chill (less than 300 hours) fruit trees:

  • Apples – Anna, Low Chill multi-graft, Dorsett and Sundowner
  • Apricots – Gold Kist or Katy
  • Plums – Methley, Burgundy, Satsuma or Mariposa
  • Pluot – Dapple Supreme
  • Cherry – Royal Lee, Minnie Royal and Royal Crimson
  • Peach – Red Baron, Low Chill multi-graft, Saturn, Babcock, Sauzee Swirl, Mid-Pride and Eva’s Pride
  • Nectarine – Spice Zee Nectaplum, Double Delight or Snow Queen
  • Pears – most require over 300 chill hours. Asian pears require the lowest chill hours of all pears.
  • Figs, Pomegranates, Quince, Persimmons – all require 300 or less chill hours
  • Special Hybrids – Spice Zee Nectaplum or Flavor Delight Aprium

List courtesy of Peaceful Valley Farm Supply


If you’re in a colder climate, you’re in luck! Because a majority of fruit and nut trees require more than 300 chill hours – some up to 1,000 hours! Others, such as figs, only require 100 chill hours during the cool season. Tropical fruit plants and trees require no chill hours. As you can see, there are endless cultivars within each category of fruit tree, so no matter where you live, there is a perfect fruit tree waiting for you out there!


A close up photo from the underside of an Anna apple tree which is loaded with fruit of varying sizes. The sky is lit up behind the tree in a stark white while the forefront of the tree is enhanced by its dark green foliage and reddish-green apples with just a hint of yellow.
Our Anna apple tree. This lady’s low chill hour requirements are perfectly suited for our virtually frost-free zone. We were very fortunate to have this established tree already on the property when we bought it!


How to determine your locations chill hours


Determining how many average chill hours you receive at home can be a little trickier than figuring out your USDA hardiness zone. There are a number of websites, like “Chill Hours” by Mississippi State University, that claim to be able to take your local weather station code (look that up here) and then give you the chill hours. I had issues with getting results for our area, but maybe yours will be different! Note that I have also heard it can take a while to load. 

To give you a general idea, here is a chill hours map – but do note that this shows sweeping averages and doesn’t take microclimates into account. 


A map of the United States, showing the chill hours by region. The map is a range of purple, blue, green, yellow, to orange in color, showing the colder regions to the warmer ones. There is a table below reflecting the colors by chill hours, orange being zero chill hours and the coldest purple being the most chill hours with 3400.
Photo courtesy of Tomorrow’s Harvest


For my fellow Californians, I found this handy list from UC Davis that breaks down chill hours into more detail by county and some cities.

If you are dying for an accurate answer, the best way to figure out the real chill hours your area experiences is by contacting your county agriculture department or local Master Gardeners program. 


Heat and Cold Tolerant Trees


The most cold-hardy edible trees include: apples, pears, plums, black walnut, elderberry, pecans, and hazelnuts. They are rated to grow all the way down into Zone 3! As you move up into Zone 4, you can add persimmons, apricots, cherries, carpathian walnut to that list. In Zone 5, tack on peaches, paw paws, mulberries, and almonds. Zone 6 can grow all of the same. 

Zones 7 and 8 are walking a fine middle line. Gardeners there can grow everything the colder zones can, and will also be able to venture into some more temperate-climate trees – depending on the variety of course! For example, most fig trees prefer zones 8 and up, but the “Hardy Chicago” and “Brown Turkey” cultivars are rated down to zone 5. Certain types of olives, pomegranates, bananas, as well as pineapple guava (feijoa) may be possible in zone 7 or 8, particularly if extra measures are taken to keep them protected in the winter – such as covering them with frost blankets. 

And then there are heat-loving trees. These ones aren’t happy in the cold, risk death if they’re exposed to freezing conditions, and provide the most bountiful fruit in warm conditions. Fruit trees rated for zones 9-11 include: loquats, avocado, citrus, lychee, and tropical guava. The most picky heat-lovers of them all are mangoes, bananas, papayas, and cashews – who are happiest in zones 10b-11. Many of the fruit trees listed for colder zones can potentially be grown in higher zones too, as long as any chill requirements are met. 


The understory of an old Meyer Lemon tree that is chock full of beautiful yellow/orange lemons. The trees foliage is lacking an excess of leaves but it is making up for it in fruit. Behind the tree is a wood fence which has three wooden planter boxes attached to it with various succulents flowing over and out of the planter.
Our old Meyer Lemon, another tree that was well-established when we moved in. Dreaming of citrus? Dwarf lemon trees are a great option for containers!


Choosing Trees for Containers


Providing adequate chill hours isn’t something you can fake. But protecting a cold-sensitive tree from freezing weather is something you may be able to do!  Growing trees in mobile containers is a great solution for northern gardeners who want a taste of the Tropics or Mediterranean, but can’t provide that climate. Potted trees can be brought indoors during the winter months for protection from the cold. 

Planting trees in containers is also an excellent option for folks with limited outdoor space! Similarly, for those who are not in a permanent living situation – as potted trees can be moved with you. You could even keep some potted trees indoors all the time, such as if you live in an apartment.


What trees grow well in pots?

Popular tree choices for containers include: fig trees, bay laurel, boxwood, and citrus trees including lemon, lime, kumquats, and even small oranges. Opt for petite species, or semi-dwarf or dwarf tree varieties. In general, trees that are naturally on the smaller side will be more content when contained. 

Virtually any type of fruit tree can be found in a dwarf form, so feel free to experiment beyond those few listed above! We have a grafted semi-dwarf espalier Fuji apple tree growing in a large wood box on wheels. It isn’t nearly as fruitful as our in-ground Anna, but it is a beautiful and welcome addition to our patio garden. I have even seen banana trees living in containers!

If you have the choice, most trees are going to be happiest and healthiest when they’re planted in the ground. That is their jam. But with the right tree selection, a nice large container, and good routine care, potted trees can thrive as well! I will dive into tips and tricks for growing trees in containers in a forthcoming post – one that will be focused on physically planting and caring for trees.


The backyard patio with the side of a house which is sea green/blue in color set as the backdrop. There is a Fuji apple tree that is the center forefront of the photo in a raised wooden planter container, the tree is in an espalier shape with three limbs extending out in even dimensions on both sides of the main trunk. There are also various potted plants throughout the patio, from jades to cacti to a pineapple guava (feijoa) that is planted in a half wine barrel. There is also a patio table extending towards the fuji tree from the bottom center of the photo. A raised gas fireplace sits in the left corner.
Our dwarf Fuji apple espalier in a large redwood box. Also, a pineapple guava in a half wine barrel to the right. We’ve also grown semi-dwarf fig trees, guavas, and blueberries in half wine barrels.



OTHER CONSIDERATIONS


In addition to the general climate that a tree will enjoy, you have to ask yourself: Will you enjoy this tree? Meaning, will it live up to your expectations, and suit your space well? 


Deciduous or Evergreen


Many edible trees are deciduous, meaning they shed their leaves and look a bit bare in the winter time. This includes apples, stone fruit, and nuts. You may be like, “Who cares? Everything looks dead in the winter here anyways…”. On the other hand, maybe some of you are hoping to have a great evergreen tree that also serves as a privacy screen, or blocks something unsightly. This is something we always take into consideration, especially when choosing where to plant what in our garden.

Examples of evergreen fruit trees include avocado, loquat, citrus, pineapple guava, tropical guava, papaya, lychee, and olive trees. Bay Laurels are also evergreen, as are both ornamental and edible. We have two in large ceramic pots on our patio! Fresh bay leaves in soup, rice, or beans is ridiculously delicious.

On the flip side, some gardeners welcome naked trees in the winter. At a time when sunlight is already sparse, bare trees can let more light through to other areas in need!


A raised island of sorts that is made out of stone pavers stands about a foot off the ground. Inside the island are various small herbs and perenials with a small kumquat tree and finger lime tree on opposite ends of the island. The background of the island shows a barren fig tree (due to it being winter), a lemon tree, parts of an apple tree as well as a few ornamental trees of various types.
Our back yard garden in the middle of winter. The lemon is evergreen, but the fig to the left of it has lost its leaves for the winter. We don’t mind the bare tree in this spot! That Desert King fig is getting quite large now, and would shade the pollinator island in the center in the winter. In the two stone circles in the middle of the pollinator island are a kumquat and finger lime tree. They’re both dwarf varieties – a great choice for the middle of a landscaped space like this.


Cross-Pollination


Does your new tree want a buddy? When you’re tree shopping and doing your homework, take note if the tree of interest is described as “self-fertile” or not! This is also referred to as “self-fruitful”. Self-fertile trees pollinate themselves, and therefore do just fine when planted solo. 

However, certain trees will need a partner of the same (or different) tree variety to cross-pollinate and successfully set fruit. Others may fall somewhere in between – they don’t necessarily need a partner tree, but they’ll be much more productive if they have one!


Which types of fruit trees are self-fertile?

Apricots, peaches, pomegranates, figs, citrus, papaya, tropical guava, loquat and nearly all persimmon trees are self-fruitful. Some plums need a partner, but the popular Santa Rosa Plum is known to be self-fertile. Several quality apple tree varieties, including Anna, Golden Delicious, Gala, and Fuji are also self-pollinating and very productive when grown on their own! Other varieties of plum or apple may need a pollinator partner, so be sure to check. 

Most pear trees are considered partially self-fertile, but perform best with a friend. Nearly all nut trees should be planted with a second tree for cross-pollination, with the exception of pecans – who are self-pollinated by the wind. Elderberry, blueberries, cherries, and pineapple guava also like to have friends around for pollination.

Avocados are funny and unique trees! We have several growing. Not only because – DUH – who wouldn’t want tons of avocados?! But also because they do best with a cross-pollinator. Avocado varieties are split into two groups: Type A and Type B. Each group’s male and female flower parts open at different times of day. Studies show that avocado fruit set increased by 40 to 150 percent when A-type and B-type varieties were grown close together! Type A avocados include the most popular – Hass- along with Mexicola and Stewart. In contrast, Fuerte, Bacon, SurPrize, and Zutano fall into Type B. We have two from each group!


A close up photo of the blooms from an avocado tree, the sun is filtering in from the background, casting various sun splashes on the leaves of the tree. While also illuminating the flowers of the avocado tree in the process. Even though the photo was such a close up shot, you can see a wooden horizontal fence in the distance which is also lit up by the golden suns rays.
Avocado flowers. This is our Hass, a Type A.

Do you live in a neighborhood with other trees, or maybe even have a farm or orchard nearby? Bees, birds, other pollinators, or even the wind can carry pollen several blocks. It is often said that if one of your close neighbors has the type of fruit tree you need for cross-pollination, that could do the trick for you! 


Growth Habits


Another thing to consider is: What will this tree look like in 10 years? How about 20 years? 30 years from now? If you plan to be in your home for a while (which I assume may be true, if you’re here thinking about planting some roots!) then you need to ask yourself these questions. What is the average size of the variety you’re scoping out? How fast will it grow? Will it potentially shade out your yard, blocking the sun for your garden? How about it’s root system? Are they super invasive, risking damage to nearby structures or water lines? Additionally, does it tend to sprawl and spread, or stay more tight and upright?

Thankfully, most trees take well to pruning. Yet that begs the question: Are you prepared to maintain and manage a large tree? If a large canopy, shade, and maintenance don’t sound ideal to you, look into naturally smaller trees, slow-growing trees, or dwarf varieties. 

On the other hand, maybe a big fat tree is just what you’re looking for! When we chose our California Pepper tree, we did so specifically because it would grow large, and fast. It was the replacement for a privacy screen that had died on our property, leaving a big gaping hole between us and our two-story neighbor.  Folks with large, open properties won’t need to worry about this as much. Plant yourself an orchard!


A front yard garden in full bloom, various raised beds contain vegetables of various types while perennials, trees, and plants of other various types are littered throughout the yard in a type of organized chaos. The foreground of the photo has beautiful pink blossoms from a salvia plant which stand it in stark contrast to the blues and purples of most of the plants as well as the evening sky.
The big tree to the left of the house is our California Pepper Tree. See the neighbor behind her? Yeah, I barely do either. That was the point! While her orientation isn’t usually ideal, planted in the southeast corner of the yard, the tall houses to the left of us cast shade on the yard in the morning anyways. And now, we don’t have to look at them!


To avoid casting too much shade on the rest of your garden locate large trees carefully. If you live in the northern hemisphere, planting them on the north side of your yard will ensure they cast as little shade as possible, as the sun sinks lower on the southern horizon much of the year. This is called a “south-facing” orientation. Keeping smaller trees in the middle of a yard and larger ones closer to walls, fences, or other tall perimeter objects also accomplishes the same goal. 


A newly planted avocado tree is enjoying the golden evening sun rays. The tree is surround by a rock ring made out of river rocks and it is mulched with pink leaves from a nearby bougainvillea. In the background are raised beds for vegetables and a small tree in a half wine barrel container. There is a house even further behind as the backdrop where there is a tall Japanese Aralia next to an old chair that has succulents planted in it.
Avocado trees can get HUGE. This Hass may reach up to 30 feet or higher one day, many years from now! So she is tucked near the fence line on the north east side of our yard, where she will cast the least shade over time. The majority of the sun comes from over the house, south.


Think outside the box

I have named some pretty common types of edible trees so far, but there are even more unique types out there! For example, trees can come multi-grafted, with many varieties of one kind of fruit growing from the same main trunk. You can embark on training your tree, such as into a flat espalier shape to grow in rows or against a wall. We purchased our apple espalier already trained. If you have space to play, look into what type of rare and exotic fruits could grow well in your area.


A woman (Deanna, the author of this article) sits with a newly purchased weeping mulberry tree in a 15 gallon container. She is sitting on a gravel pathway that is interwoven amongst smaller islands of plants that are mulched with bark and lined in river rock the size of softballs. The plants are of all types, from perennials like yarrow, salvia, and aloe vera to artichokes, even vines like jasmine, and bougainvillea. The plants colors range from purple to lavender, light green to dark, yellow to magenta pink.
A happy girl and her Mulberry tree. See, I really wanted a Mulberry tree… but knew we had NO decent space for this classically huge tree. My heart skipped a beat when I saw this dwarf weeping mulberry at our local nursery. Of course we snagged her!


So, after reading all of that…  do you have the perfect tree in mind? Right on! Now you may be wondering: Where should I get my tree?


WHERE TO SOURCE FRUIT OR ORNAMENTAL TREES



Local Nursery


We are fortunate to live near a few awesome local nurseries, so we always buy our trees in person. The benefit of shopping with a local nursery (aside from supporting a local business!) is that they will carry trees that grow well in your area. I still suggest doing your homework to verify, but any good nursery should follow this practice. However, don’t feel limited to what the nursery has in stock! There have been numerous times that our favorite garden centers didn’t readily carry a type of tree we wanted, or one the size we hoped for, so they special-ordered it for us. Don’t be shy to ask questions! Some even offer delivery services. 

To clarify, I am talking about small, locally-owned operations, not Big Box garden centers – though that is a totally valid option, if you don’t have access to others.

When you’re at the nursery, keep an eye out for a tree that has good shape, structure, and generally looks healthy. Also look for signs of pest or disease issues. Slightly sad trees may bounce back after being planted, watered, and pampered a bit, but be leery of the really questionable ones.

I will admit it. I am really impatient, especially when it comes to trees growing in – to either fill out an ugly space, or to provide us food. Therefore, we usually go for larger, more established trees in 15 gallon pots. However, bigger isn’t always better! If a large tree is kept in a small pot too long, it will become root bound and stunted. Look for bulging, tight pots with roots poking out the bottom. In that scenario, which is a signal of root-binding, I would opt for the smaller, healthier tree in a 5-gallon pot instead. If you’re on a budget (or more patient than me) stick to the smaller ones too. They’ll catch up! 


A woman (Deanna, the author of this article) stands with a newly purchased Hass avocado that is in a 15 gallon container. The background shows a yard that contains gravel pathways with stone pavers for steps. There are islands that are lined with river cobble stone that contain perennial plants that are mulched with bark. Further behind that contains raised garden beds for vegetables, perennials of numerous varieties, as well as a wall of passion vines that are alongside the far wooden fence line.
Can you tell how much I love bringing new tree babies into the garden? This was our first avocado tree, and I was STOKED! You can see a peek of the Sycamore on the far left, and a dwarf magnolia behind me on the right. Again, almost all of our trees are lined up on the north side of our front yard garden to avoid shading it out.


Online Options


In lieu of physically picking out your tree, there are many reputable online nurseries who sell trees. Commonly, these trees are sold as small “whips” (stick-like) or bare root due to shipping, but that isn’t a bad thing! Because I don’t have experience in this arena, I can’t say too much else on the subject. Have you purchased a tree online? Please share your experience in the comments!

Whenever I am doing research on tree varieties, I always come across these online nurseries:


Can I grow my tree from seed? 


Sure, you can. Or at least, you can try… But let’s clarify a few things before you start down that road. Unfortunately, the seed and resulting seedling from a given tree doesn’t always “breed true”. Meaning, it won’t necessarily have all of the same characteristics of the adult tree the seed came from. They may grow very differently, and some may not bear fruit at all! Others will be more or less susceptible to disease than the parent. This is typically a result of cross-pollination. The seed offspring is a hybrid. 

So how so they do it at nurseries then? Well, they start with a strong root stock (possibly disease-resistant) and graft a cutting from the desired variety on top. An experienced gardener may do the grafting themselves. But that is beyond what we’re talking about today. 

When growing from seed, time is also a huge factor. You know that cute sprouting avocado pit you have suspended in water in your kitchen window? I hate to burst your bubble… but it will be 10 to 15 years until that thing produces any fruit! And again, it may be quite different from the parent tree you were lusting after.  Personally, I find buying an established and reliable baby tree well worth the investment. 

However, others like Moringa trees or certain ornamentals can grow swiftly and successfully  from seed! I sound like a broken record, but do some research on the seed you’re hoping to grow.


The understory of a Desert King fig tree, looking up towards the open blue sky. The sun is in the background, slightly covered by trees that are behind the fig tree. The fig tree has huge, dark green leaves and there is also a grapefruit tree to the left and a slight hint of a Meyer lemon tree behind the fig in close proximity.


And now you know the factors to consider when choosing trees for your garden.


What do you think? Do you feel armed and ready to go tree shopping? As you can see, there are TONS of options out there! Surely there is a perfect choice for your home.


After you make an educated decision and bring a new tree one home, be sure to check out this follow-up article: how to plant a tree! It covers the best practices of tree planting along with some tips we’ve learned over the years, like how to protect trees from gophers.


Stay tuned, and happy tree shopping! 




14 Comments

  • Victoria

    I have ordered one tree online (Four Winds) a Blood Orange Tree, Semi-Dwarf, and purchased one at my local nursery, a Dwarf Lime Tree/Bush.
    The biggest difference that I, and other friends of mine, noticed with ordering online in that the tree you get is almost always on the smaller side of their range. 24 in -36 in has always been the 24 inch even though you pay the higher price for it.
    However, my locally bought Lime was larger at the time of growing but needed a full year before it really started “popping off” with fruit. My online Blood Orange tree definitely needed a lot more TLC when I first got it, it was quite a bit flimsier of a stem and needed more support. I wouldn’t say that the fact that they are two different trees changed the stem. A tree either place should have a firm solid stem when you get it. You shouldn’t be worried about a wind breaking it or bending it too much.
    Either way, Some trees, especially in California, can be hard to find because of our agricultural laws, but both online and my local nursery trees have done remarkably well. So its just something to look out for, but i’d recommend either.
    Also, don’t overwater your citrus trees. They tend to hate being overwatered more than underwater.

  • Caitlin Prostek

    Such great tips as always Deanna! We are buying our first house and I plan on turning half of the front yard into an edible landscape and this couldn’t have come at a more perfect time!! Im in zone 5 but I am convinced i’ll find a Bay Laurel plant that will work here.

  • Kim

    Thank you for the thorough article, as always. I love citrus trees, so I have a lemon, calamondin, and a pomello in pots (I live in zone 5b, so can’t plant them in the ground). They’re so tricky grow. The lemon has been struggling with mealy bugs, but it’s finally flowering, and now the buds are dropping. The pomello looks sad; it dropped all it’s buds when we bought it in January. It grew some new leaves in March, but hasn’t grown since, and no flowers. The calmondin finally has some new growths, so that’s encouraging.
    My fig tree only has leaves, it may be due to insufficient chilling hours because I kept it in the basement over the winter. If it gets enough chilling hours this coming winter, would it produce fruits again next summer? Thanks in advance!!

    • DeannaCat

      Try a soap spray on those mealybugs, weekly if needed (1 tbsp Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap per quart of water, or 5 Tbsp per gallon). Most figs need less than 100 chilling hours, so that may not be the issue. Look up your variety’s needs. If it is young it could take a couple years. Also, potted trees need more routine fertilizer (not while dormant) than in-ground trees. I will write a whole post all about growing in containers soon! I hope this helps in the meantime!

  • Adrienne

    Thanks for the great post!
    Another amazing tree that I’ve just learned about is the cherry plum! My city has planted them everywhere and (luckily for me) most are fruit bearing and not ornamental! I’ve really enjoyed foraging and have made “wild” plum cobbler, jam and ice cream! The fruits are sweet on the outside and tart close to the center and the trees have beautiful purple leaves. I’ve read they’re relatively easy to care for and are quick growing. Looking forward to planting some in my future garden (I currently live in an apartment)!

  • Siva

    thank u so much!!! Information is clear and detailed to help any level gardeners. I was gonna ask about my poor dwarf Meyer in a 15 gallon if it needs a partner to help grow and fruit. But after reading this blog 👍🏽👌❤️
    The chill hours info 👍🏽🙌🏽

      • Nakesha

        Thanks for all this useful info! We are about to buy a house and I’ve been thinking about what trees I want to plant so I’ll definitely be coming back to this post! 🙌🏻

  • Jess Nelson

    Thank you for a great post Deanna! Currently we have bay laurel, Meyer lemon, two apple trees, and a fig! I also just finished building an arch to grow passion fruit on (inspired by your passion vines!)

    I love how much I learn from your posts. I hate that big box stores will sell fruit trees totally incompatible with the local zone, so your info can really help hopeful gardeners make the right choice!

    • DeannaCat

      It sounds like you have a lot of the awesome goodies that we have growing! Pluck off a couple bay leaves and throw them in the pot the next time you are cooking brown rice or quinoa. It brings it to a whole new level! Thanks for the feedback!

  • Amanda

    Yay! Such a great post! I’ve grown several fruit trees in pots but recently moved to 5b where their varieties wouldn’t survive. Our new property came with 100 year old oak and maple trees with very little sun spots for fruit and nut bearing trees. Thank you for all the pointers and research! I’ve got a great starting point!

  • April Dodge

    Your content is always extremely thorough & valuable to me as a new gardener. Thank you so much for your time, energy & knowledge!

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