Fruit Tree Selection Guide

Fresh fruit from your own backyard is everyone’s dream. But many find the idea of planting and successfully growing fruit as a insurmountable task. Not so! Pick the right tree and plant at the right time – and you will be enjoying ripe and healthy snacks straight from the vine in no time!

First, what type of soil do you have? Certain soils are best for certain trees:

Sandy: peaches, pomegranates, apricots, plums, almonds, grapes, ad nectarines.
Loam: All trees, especially walnut and cherries.
Clay: Apples, plums, pears, apricots, almonds and peaches (grafted on plum rootstock).

Next, determine climate:

Here in the San Jose area, November through February the temperature will drop. To determine your climate (climates vary across Bay Area, especially Inland), count or estimate the number of chill hours your area receives. Chill hours are the total number of hours the temperature will dip below 45 degrees. Fruit trees require different levels of chill hours to produce the best fruit.

High – Trees that require 800 to 1,200 chill hours are apples, some apricot varieties, cherries, and pears

Moderate – 500 to 800 chill hours; some apricots, nectarines, plums, peaches, and some varieties of apples

Low – 500 hours or less; almonds, persimmons, pomegranates, figs, and some varieties of apples

Third, consider pollination requirements:

Some trees are self-pollinating, others require cross-pollinaters to be planted nearby. If the fruit tree requires a cross pollinator, and you don’t have one, you likely won’t get fruit.

Self-pollinating: Figs, peaches, nectarines, pomegranates and most varieties of apricots.

Needs cross-pollination- Almonds, apples, pears, plums, pluots and cherries. However, there are some varieties of these that do not need pollinators. If you are purchasing your own trees from a nursery, ask a nursery professional for assistance.

If a cross pollinator is needed for the fruit tree, you need space to plant both of them. Since space may be an issue, a suggested alternative is to plant fruit trees that have multiple grafts on them. You can purchase an apple tree that has up to 4 different varieties grafted onto the same tree. Again, ask your nursery professional to point you in the right direction for these trees, or contact your Arbortek Trees team of arborists for advice.

Will you have enough room when the trees are mature?

Walnuts – trees grow up to 30’ tall
Peaches – up to 15’ tall
Nectarines – up to 15’ tall
Figs – up to 30’ tall
Pomegranate – up to 20’ tall
Apples – up to 20’; dwarfing at 14’
Pears – up to 20’; dwarfing at 15’
Cherries – up to 20’, dwarfing at 12’
Apricots and plums – up to 18’; dwarfing at 14’

If you live in an urban area, you must consider city or county restrictions. Learn more about San Jose tree planting restrictions, in our Dummies Guide to Tree Planting in the Bay Area.

Lastly, make sure you have enough light.

Fruit trees need six hours a day during the growing season (when leaves are on).

Now you’ve determined the tree, it’s time to plant. Call San Jose tree experts, Arbortek Trees if you’d like to leave the planting to the professionals. Be sure to plant in winter, before the trees break dormancy.