Because it seems that winter has not arrived here in Atlanta and spring has taken over early, many people are wanting to get a jump on their spring planting. Our fruit trees have arrived and I find myself answering the same question over and over. Which fruit trees are self pollinating and which require a cross pollinator?
First, even though some trees are self pollinating, they will often produce larger yields with a cross pollinator. When we talk about a cross pollinator, we are talking about planting 2 different cultivars of the same fruit tree, such as a Red Delicious apple tree with a Fuji apple tree. When planting your trees it is important to not plant them more than 100 foot apart, for proper pollination is dependent on factors like wind and honeybees. Planting your trees 50 to 60 foot apart is recommended for the best results. You can not cross pollinate with two of the same tree.
Most apple trees require a cross pollinator and even though some varieties such as Red Delicious are said to be self pollinating, again, will produce larger yields with a cross pollinator. Some people find that they have limited space and don't have room for multiple trees and that is where the Fruit Cocktail trees are growing in popularity. The Apple Fruit Cocktail trees are apple trees that have multiple varieties of apples grafted onto 1 tree which makes it self sufficient where a second tree is not required. Apple trees can also be cross pollinated with crabapple trees.
Pomegranates have flowers that have both male and female parts, therefore they do not require a pollinator but if you do give it a second type of tree then you will produce much larger yields. Angel Red is an improved cultivar that produces larger yields and produces fruit with higher juice content and a softer edible seed. Pomegranates grow between zones 7 to 11, produce fruit in late summer to fall and go dormant in the winter.
There are European and Japanese varieties of plum trees and because of different bloom times, you can not cross pollinate European plums with Japanese plums. Plum trees require a cross pollinator, for they are not self fertile. With all fruit trees there are a few exceptions, for example, Damson and Stanley plums are self pollinating European plums and make great pollinators for other European varieties. Methley, Santa Rose, Abundance and Burbank are common varieties of Japanese plums and all require cross pollinators.
Pear trees require a self pollinator, so therefore you will need two different types.
Peach trees are truly self pollinating and usually require beneficial pruning to reduce the yield size which will increase the size of the peach. Peach trees will produce 1000 small peaches that can not be eaten, therefore requires thinning out which will then produce say 200 quality, edible peaches. With all type fruit trees there are a few exceptions, like the J.H. Hale peach requires a pollinator. Nectarines are directly related to peaches and are also self pollinating, as are apricots. check out our article on Growing Peach Trees.
Most sweet cherry trees, like the Bing cherry require a cross pollinator with an exception of Stella, Lapin's and Starkrimson. Most sour cherries like the Montmorency cherry do not require a cross pollinator.
Most citrus trees are self fertile and do not require a cross pollinator, but they will also produce larger yields with a cross. With any fruit trees there are some factors to take into account, especially with citrus trees when it comes to selecting your cross pollinator. Be sure that the 2 trees have an overlapping bloom time and be sure that both varieties are equally as cold hardy. With all fruit trees there are a few exceptions when it comes to being a compatible cross pollinator, for example sweet oranges and grapefruit are not considered to be affective cross pollinators for hybrid tangerines.
Figs do not require a cross pollinator. Celeste, Brown Turkey, Purple Genca and Alma are some preferred varieties.
Grape vines do not require a cross pollinator as they are self pollinating. Crossing different varieties of grapes is often what makes different types of wine, for example, a Cabernet Sauvignon wine is made when you cross the varieties Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc.
There are self pollinating types and self sterile types that only produce female flowers. If you have a self fertile plant, you will need to cross it with a self pollinating type.
Most blueberry bushes are not self pollinating, therefore you will need a cross pollinator with these as well. Blueberries prefer to grow in acidic soil, therefore prefer a specialty fertilizer like Azalea, Camellia, Rhododendron fertilizer which is designed for acid loving plants.
Raspberries and blackberries are self pollinating. They also produce fruit on their second years growth. Avoid planting in areas where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant, as these plants leave behind diseases that can attack your raspberries. Acidic soil is also preferred and should be fertilized with an Azalea fertilizer.
It is recommended that since bees are a key ingredient in cross pollination, that you do not spray insecticides when fruit trees are in bloom. There are several factors that can hinder the output of fruit trees. Some of these are the absence of wind, absence of bees or butterflies, inadequate sunlight, the cross pollinator is too far away or fungus and disease. Plant flowering companion plants to get the bees to the show early and with a strong presence. Therefore when your fruit trees start blooming, pollination will be taken care of.
When planting your trees be sure to select the proper location and amend the soil accordingly. It is recommended that you use a root stimulator fertilizer when planting your tree. Most trees prefer a soil pH of 6-6.5 and require adequate drainage of the soil as well.
If there are any other questions that you have on fruit trees we will be happy to answer them for you here on the community.
Other related articles:
Hello Maggi. Ken here in the Chicago area. Welcome to the Community.
Avocado pollination is complex. The flowers on avocados are either
type A or type B depending on the time of day they open and when
pollen is released.
If avocados are common in your area, you may get by with one tree that
will produce enough fruit for home consumption. If not, plant both types
for better production. If you don’t have the room for 2 trees, then graft
a branch of one type onto the other type. Let me know the name of the
cultivar of avocado you have and I can tell you which type it is. Ken