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Fruit - trees

Understanding fruit tree pollination

Apples, pears, plums and most sweet cherries

While some varieties are self-fertile, most fruit trees are self-sterile, meaning they need to be fertilized pollen from the blossom of another variety to produce fruit. These co-pollinators must from compatible varieties that bloom at the same time in order for the pollen to do its work. The pollen must also be carried from one variety to the other, either by the wind or by insects (like wasps, flies and bees), so the trees must be planted no more than 50-100’ apart.

Some apple varieties need co-pollinators, but their own pollen is sterile, so they do not return the favour to other varieties. These include: Jonagold, Winesap, Spigold, Baldwin, Tompkins County King, Roxbury Russet, Summer Rambo, Gravenstein, Rhode Island Greening, Mutsu and Red Stayman Winesap.

Apricots, peaches, sour cherries and nectarines

Most are self-pollinating, as are some sweet cherries.

Which is which?

There are a variety of ways to determine which varieties would make good pollinating partners, including:

  • Checking the tags on the trees you are considering
  • Asking staff here at Plants Unlimited, who will be more than happy to help
  • Checking with other experts, like the University of Missouri, which has a helpful chart online showing which varieties work well together, as well as lots of other interesting information.

Low yields or no fruit is probably the result of poor pollination or frost on blossom.


 

Apple - 3 in 1

Can't decide which apple variety you want? Have limited space? This espalier has three varieties on one tree: Jonagold, Gala and Red McIntosh.


 

Apple - 4 in 1

Can't decide what apple variety you want? Have limited space? This lovely espalier has four varieties on one tree: Winesap, King, Gravenstein and Yellow Delicious.


 

Apple - Baldwin

Zone 5

A late-season variety. Pollinator needed and pollen is sterile, so it will not pollinate other varieties.


 

Apple - Braeburn

Zone 5

Early-season variety. Pollinator needed.


 

Apple - Cortland

Zone 4

A mid-season, semi-dwarf variety. Pollinator needed.


 

Apple - Empire

Zone 4

An early-season McIntosh x Delicious cross. Pollinator needed.


 

Apple - Gala

Zone 5

An early-season, self-pollinating, semi-dwarf variety.


 

Apple - Granny Smith

Zone 5

A late-season semi-dwarf variety. Pollinator needed.


 

Apple - Honeycrisp

Zone 4

A semi-dwarf variety. Pollinator needed.


 

Apple - Honeygold

Zone 4

A mid- to late-season variety. Pollinator needed.


 

Apple - Liberty

Zone 4

A cold-hardy, mid-season, semi-dwarf McIntosh. Pollinator needed.


 

Apple - McIntosh

Zone 4

A semi-dwarf, self-pollinating variety.


 

Apple - Pound Sweet

Zone 4

A mid-season heirloom variety. Pollinator needed.


 

Apple - Red winesap

Zone 5

Pollinator needed and its pollen is sterile, so it will not pollinate other trees.


 

Apple - Roxbury

Zone 4

A late-season semi-dwarf variety. Pollinator needed.


 

Apple - Wolf River

Zone 4

A mid-season, semi-dwarf, antique variety. Pollinator needed.


 

Apple - Yellow delicious

Semi-dwarf self-pollinator that ripens in early October.


 

Apple - Zestor

Zone 3

A mid-season variety. Pollinator needed.


 

Cherry - Balaton

Zone 5

A new, semi-dwarf, sweet, self-pollinating variety.


 

Cherry - Black Tartarian

Zone 5

A semi-dwarf sweet variety that ripens in mid-June. Pollinator needed.


 

Cherry - Blackyork (Eastern Bing)

Zone 5

A semi-dwarf sweet variety. Pollinator needed.


 

Cherry - Bright Yellow Cornelian

Zone 4

Cornus mas  - A variety of dogwood with small yellow fruit reminiscent of cherries or wild plums. Deer resistant. Noted as grown by Thomas Jefferson in his diary.



 

Cherry - Kristin

Zone 5

A semi-dwarf sweet variety. Pollinator needed.


 

Cherry - Lambert

Zone 5

A semi-dwarf sweet variety that ripens mid-June.


 

Cherry - Lapins

Zone 5

A semi-dwarf, sweet, self-pollinating variety that ripens in late June.


 

Cherry - Monmorency

Zone 4

A semi-dwarf, sour, self-pollinating variety that ripens in late June.


 

Cherry - North Star

Zone 4

A semi-dwarf, sour, self-pollinating variety that ripens in mid-June.


 

Cherry - Regina

Zone 4

A new semi-dwarf sweet variety. Pollinator needed (not Van).


 

Cherry - Stella

Zone 5

A semi-dwarf, sweet, self-pollinating variety that ripens in late June.


 

Cherry - Van

Zone 5

A semi-dwarf sweet variety that ripens in mid-June. Pollinator needed.


Cherry - Weeping

Zone 5-8 • Mature 25' hgih x 25' wide

Prunus subhirtella pendula - An ornamental variety with the white or pink flowers in late winter to early spring before the oval, green foliage emerge. Can produce fruit but it is considered inedible


 

Chokeberry - Black

Zone 3

Aronia melanocarpa - Good for wet ground with edible but very tart berries the size of blueberries in autumn. Best fruit production in full sun. 


Crabapple - Prairie Fire

Zone 4-8 • Mature 20' high x 20' wide

Malus - A dense, rounded variety with purple foliage in Spring that mature to dark green then orange in Autumn


Crabapple - Royal Raindrops

Zone 4-8 • Mature 20' high x 16' wide

Malus 'JFS-KW5' - An upright, disease-resistant variety with deeply-lobed purple foliage that matures to orange-red in Autumn. and magenta-pink single flowers in Spring that mature to small maroon fruit in late Summer.


 

Medlar - Giant Breda

Zone 5

A dwarf, self-pollinating relative of the pear.


 

Peach - Frost

A dwarf, self-pollinating, cold-hardy variety that ripens in late July.


 

Peach - Reliance

Zone 5

A dwarf, self-pollinating variety.


 

Pear - Anjou

Zone 5

A dwarf variety. Pollinator needed.


 

Pear - Golden Russet Bosc

Zone 4

A dwarf variety. Pollinator needed.


 

Pear - Kieffer

Zone 4

A self-pollinating variety.


 

Pear - Parker

Zone 3

Ripens mid-August. Pollinator needed (Patten recommended).


 

Pear - Patten

Zone 3

A hardy variety that is a good pollinator for others. Scab resistant.


 

Pear - Red Anjou

Zone 5

A dwarf variety. Pollinator needed.


 

Pear - Seckel

Zone 5

A dwarf variety that ripens mid-September.


 

Persimmon - Meader

Zone 4

A self-pollinating variety.


 

Plum - Empress

Zone 5

A dwarf variety that needs another pollinator.


Plum - Flowering

Zone 4-9 • Mature 25' high x 6' wide

Prunus x cerasifera 'Cripoizam' - A columnar variety with deep bronze-maroon foliage and white flowers in Spring. Fruit is small and ornamental.


 

Plum - Santa Rosa

Zone 5

A dwarf, self-pollinating variety that ripens in early August.


 

Plum - Shiro

Zone 5

A Japanese variety that needs another pollinator.


 

Plum - Stanley

Zone 5

A dwarf, self-pollinating variety.


 

Plum - Yellow Egg

Zone 5

A dward, self-pollinating variety that ripens in late August.


 

Quince - Cameo

Zone 4

Chaenomeles × superba - Apricot-colored blooms in early spring are followed by hard, bitter fruits usually reserved for jellies and cheeses.


 

Quince - Texas Scarlet

Zone 4 • Mature 5-7' tall x 5-7’ wide

 

Chaenomeles japonica - A very tolerant variety with red blossom early in the spring before foliage breaks and large, edible fruit in the autumn. Deer resistant.

 


 

Serviceberry

Zone 4

Amelanchier canadensis (also called Shadblow serviceberry) - Spring blooms are followed by dark purple berries in early Summer.  


 

Serviceberry - Apple

Zone 4

Amelanchier × grandiflora  'Autumn Brilliance' (also called Juneberry) - An April-flowering variety followed by berries reminiscent of blueberry's flavour with brilliant orange-red foliage in autumn.


 

Serviceberry - Standing Ovation

Zone 2

Amelanchier alnifolia 'Obelisk' - A hardy variety with orange and red fall color.


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