Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces

You don’t need to own acres of orchards or live in the South to grow gorgeous fruit trees.

Sure, you can walk into the grocery store and toss a bag of nectarines or Honeycrisp apples into your shopping cart, but wouldn’t it be better if you could just walk out your back door?

We found a new book, Fruit Trees in Small Spaces by Colby Eierman. It’s all about fruit trees and how to grow them, care for them and—the most important part—how to reap the rewards. Best of all, these trees won’t take over your yard. The dwarf options are endless, and some will even flourish in containers.

We’ve suggested one variety for each type of fruit tree. But, as with any new plant you’re going to try, make sure the one you choose will work in your zone and growing conditions. And keep in mind that some fruit trees, like apples, require two plants for cross pollination and fruit formation. Stop by your favorite nursery or local extension office to find out which varieties will do best in your backyard.

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Grapefruit
    Erin Kunkel

    Grapefruit

    In order for the grapefruit on a tree to get the brilliant color we all look for, it needs intense summer heat. But the color of the fruit doesn’t determine its ripeness. If a grapefruit feels heavy on the tree, pluck it off and give it a try.

    Try this: The Rio Red bears sweet, seedless grapefruits that are ideal for juice. The dwarf form of this variety is perfect for a small space.

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Apples
    University of Minnesota/David L. Hansen

    Apple

    The variety of apple trees out there can be a little overwhelming, so it’s especially important to find out what will work with your growing conditions. Be sure to look for disease-resistant trees, because apple trees are very susceptible to a number of ailments.

    Try this: You can’t go wrong planting a Honeycrisp. Its sweet, crunchy, medium-size apples are perfect for eating right off the tree.

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Mandarin
    istockphoto.com/Tom Gowanlock

    Mandarin

    Only gardeners in the far South can enjoy the fruit of a mandarin tree straight from the backyard. But if you’re in the right zone, they’re fairly easy to grow. A mandarin will require some pruning to shape it into a tree or shrub, but other than that, just enjoy!

    Try this: Satsuma mandarin trees are a popular choice. They will produce large, sweet, easy-to-peel fruit.

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Limes
    istockphoto.com/Terry J. Alcorn Inc.

    Lime

    Lime trees are very sensitive to cold, so make sure you can accommodate their needs before trying to grow one. Not only do these trees produce juicy fruit for cocktails and cooking, they have beautiful dark, glossy leaves.

    Try this: Mexican limes, also known as key limes, are more suitable for warm climates. They’re upright trees that will grow up to 15 feet tall.

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Apricot
    Michael Tomlinson/Dave Wilson nursery

    Apricot

    Northern gardeners, this one’s for you! Apricot trees do tolerate cold temperatures, but be careful. Because of early flowering, late frost can sometimes take its toll on trees. The fruit is delicate, so growing your own ensures you’ll get high-quality, unblemished apricots.

    Try this: If you’re looking for a sweet apricot, give Goldcot a try. It ripens midseason and is good for colder climates.

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Pear
    Start Bros. Nurseries & Orchards Co.

    Pear

    When it comes to pear trees, you’ve got a choice—­European or Asian. In choosing between the two, it

    all depends on your taste. The European pear tree is a real showstopper in the garden with soft fruit, while the Asian variety is crisp and juicy like an apple.

    Try this: Moonglow, a European variety, is a strong

    grower with flavorful fruit, but it will need to be planted with a pollinator.

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Quince
    Michael Tomlinson/Dave Wilson Nursery

    Quince

    You might be familiar with the flowering quince, but did you know you can eat the fruit? A close relative to the flowering quince, the edible quince is excellent for jams, jellies and preserves. In general, quinces aren’t enjoyable right off the tree.

    Try this: It’s not a shock that the Pineapple quince variety has a hint of pineapple when cooked. Be sure to let quinces ripen fully on the tree before picking.

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Orange
    Erin Kunkel

    Orange

    Did you know oranges can stay on the tree for months before you need to pick them? In some cases this even makes the fruit sweeter. If you live in the North, look for dwarf varieties that you can plant in a pot and take indoors for winter.

    Try this: The Trovita orange tree produces sweet fruit with outstanding flavor. A versatile grower, it’s good for cooler climates but will also tolerate desert heat.

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Plum
    Michael Tomlinson/Dave Wilson Nursery

    Plum

    Plum trees are versatile, slower growers, so pruning is easy. They can handle drought, but watch out for pest problems. When buying a plum tree, make sure it’s the fruiting kind, not the flowering kind.

    Try this: The Methley variety has purplish-red skin and a sweet taste. It ripens earlier than other varieties, so you can enjoy the plums early in the season. Plus, it’s pest-resistant.

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Nectarine
    Michael Tomlinson/Dave Wilson Nursery

    Nectarine

    Nectarines are essentially peaches without the fuzz, and both types of trees require a lot of pruning, fertilizing, thinning and watering. But the flavor and juiciness of the homegrown fruit will make it all worthwhile.

    Try this: The supersweet Fantasia nectarine reaches peak ripeness in midseason. This variety doesn’t require as much chilling as other nectarine trees, but it will still do fine in colder regions.

  • More From Birds & Blooms
  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Grapefruit

    Grapefruit

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Apples

    Apple

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Mandarin

    Mandarin

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Limes

    Lime

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Apricot

    Apricot

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Pear

    Pear

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Quince

    Quince

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Orange

    Orange

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Plum

    Plum

  • Top 10 Fruit Trees for Small Spaces: Nectarine

    Nectarine

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