Which Fruit Tree Is Right For Me?

On April 22nd and 8am, Pine Lane Nursery will be having a Fruit Tree Tour to be followed by a Small Fruit Tour a little later in the season.  Growing fruit trees requires more patience and is more labor intensive than growing an ornamental or a shade tree.  There are of course more tangible rewards, food for example, from growing fruit trees in our area but it will require special effort and attention.  This is a preview of the fruit tree assortment for 2023.

Apples are one of the better fruits for the Front Range and there are a couple of old apple orchards south and east of the Parker area.  These orchards date back to times when fruit was not as easily transported and had to be grown more locally.  Apples are mostly self-unfruitful and will need another domestic apple or crabapple nearby and blooming at the same time in order to improve the chances of getting fruit.  Then they need bees to complete the pollination in order to set and bear fruit.  If there is a strong bee population in your area, the trees can be up to a quarter mile apart.   So if you live in a suburban neighborhood with bees, the chances are pretty good that you can get fruit on a single tree.  The Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apple trees are self-fruitful and will produce a decent crop without another apple tree nearby.  With another apple tree nearby (even of the same variety) the crops will be more abundant.  The Honeycrisp apple tree is a good choice for our area because it is extra cold hardy, resistant to fire blight, and produces high quality fruit. 

Cherry trees can be either sweet or sour.  The sour cherries are self-fruitful producing a good crop from a single tree but the crops are heavier for each tree when there are multiple plantings.  The Montmorency cherry was grown commercially in the Longmont area until the late 1950’s when a hard freeze killed most of the trees.  The Evans Bali cherry from Canada is extra cold hardy and has a slightly higher sugar content making it more suitable for fresh eating when fully ripe.  Sweet cherries are mostly self-unfruitful needing another sweet cherry for cross pollination.  The Stella and Lapins cherries are self-fruitful sweet cherries and will pollinate other sweet cherries such as the Bing, the sweetest of the sweets.  Cherries are in the Prunus family and all parts of the plant except for the ripe fruit pulp are considered toxic to dogs, horses, and humans. 

Peach trees are mostly self-fruitful, but you will get more peaches if there is another peach tree within 100’, even if it’s the same variety of peach.  Peach trees bloom early with showy pink blossoms.  Sometimes that is too early and the flowers are frosted off before the fruit sets.  That means no fruit for the season but the trees usually survive and will come next year to try fruit again.  The Frost peach tree blooms a little later and could avoid some of our late spring frosts.  The Contender peach is the most cold hardy of the peaches, rated at zone 4 (-20 to -30°F).  If the flowers miss the frosts, it is one of the more abundant producers.  Peach trees flower and fruit on one year old branches and the old grey branches should be pruned away yearly in late winter to early spring, up to 40% of the tree may be removed.  Peach trees usually live about 12 years so planting a new tree every 5-6 years means there will always be at least one producing tree, frost permitting.  Peaches are in the Prunus family also so don’t eat the pits!

Pears are mostly self-unfruitful and will need another different type of pear growing nearby (100’) for cross pollination in order to bear fruit.  Pears are highly susceptible to fire blight but do have the potential to live and produce fruit for up to 70 years.  Common or European such as the Anjou and Red Bartlett are best picked early and ripened off of the tree.  If left on the tree, the fruit tends to have a gritty / grainy texture.  The Summercrisp pear came from a chance seedling of ‘unknown’ heritage and some of that heritage must be from an Asian pear because Summercrisp pears can be left on the tree until they have a nice red blush.  At that time the fruit can be picked and eaten fresh from the tree and is crisp and crunchy with a sweet flavor.  All pear trees have white flowers in early spring and can have outstanding late fall colors. 

Plum trees can be self-fruitful or self-unfruitful.  European ‘prune’ plums are usually self-fruitful.  The Mt. Royal plum is an example.  It came from Canada in the late 1700’s and a single tree can produce good crops at elevations up to 7000’.  Hybrid plums can be self-fruitful or self-unfruitful.  The Santa Rosa plum is a complex hybrid of American, European, and Japanese plums developed by Luther Burbank in 1906 and is self-fruitful.  The Superior plum is a natural cross between American and Japanese plums and is self-unfruitful but can be pollinated by an American, Japanese, or hybrid (of the two) plum such as the Santa Rosa.  The American plums fall mostly into the small fruit category though the Prunus americana can be pruned into and maintained as a tree form.  Again, do not eat the pits!

Pushing the envelope, a little, the tree forms of the North American native Serviceberry produce a tasty blueberry-like fruit as well as having profuse white spring flowers and great fall color.  The ‘Caddo’ sugar maples, such as Flash Fire and Powder Keg are from the ecotype native to Oklahoma.  They are better suited to our area than the eastern sugar maples if you want to make your own Maple Syrup.


Join us for the tour and we will do our best to give you confidence in growing these valuable assets in your own yard.