57ebf35ed99f1af5387ade26c36d746b

Do you have a fruit tree in your garden, but no fruit in your garden?

You’re not alone. I am amazed how many gardens share this dilemma. Year after year, gardeners press on, hoping for some sort of magical fruit tree transformation.

Why do some fruit trees grow strong and healthy, but not fruit?

Reason #1: It’s the Wrong Variety for the Climate

rvanderhoff.jpg

By a long margin, I have found this to be the most common reason for big, healthy, green trees, but with no fruit. Fruit trees are very regional and particular about their climate. An ‘Elberta’ peach is a great choice for Fresno, but will produce almost no fruit in a Newport Beach garden. A ‘Flordaprince’ peach, intended for Miami, may doo poorly here due to the wrong rootstock for our soils. There are tangerine varieties for inland gardens and others for coastal gardens; likewise with figs, apples, nectarines, grapefruits and just about anything else you might want to bite into. Get some good advice. Regardless of the fruit, it is critical that you start with a variety well suited to your garden’s unique climate and soil.

Reason #2: It’s Seed Grown

This is incredibly common with avocados, since pits of particularly tasty avocados are easily planted. Twenty years later the tree is enormous and beautiful, but has never produced a single fruit. Avocadoes,  stonefruits, citrus and almost all other fruit trees are hybrid plants. They don’t replicate the characteristics of their fruit through their seed. Not only is planting the seed a roll-of-the-dice, but there is no rootstock underplanting on a seed grown tree. It’s always best to buy a grafted, vegetatively produced tree from a reputable source.

Reason #3: It’s Too Young

apricotsMany fruit trees may not produce fruit when young. The time between planting and bearing will vary with the tree type, variety and rootstock. This issue is especially true of trees like avocados, macadamias, and several tropical fruits. Also, trees grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks generally will begin bearing a year or two earlier than their full size cousins.   Citrus usually bear fruit right away. Peaches and nectarines, which bear fruit directly on their branches, usually fruit within one to three years from planting. Apples, pears, apricots and plums, which set their fruit on little perennial stubs called spurs, may take 3 to 4 years to bear fruit. Avocados may take five to eight years.

  Reason #4: It’s Unhealthy or Too Old

Unhealthy trees may bear poorly, if at all. Root rots, boring insects, crown galls, oak root fungus and other maladies are almost invisible to the untrained eye, but can put so much pressure on the tree that its fruit is almost completely sacrificed. Tree health begins early, with proper placement in the garden, well-drained soil, full sun and compatible plants nearby. Shade, often caused by overcrowding, reduces flowering and fruiting considerably. Old trees often fruit poorly, due to their lack of vigor and the onset of internal diseases and pests.

Reason #5: Poor Culture

Cultural practices for good tree health include cultivating or mulching to reduce weed competition for nutrients and water. Fertilize early each spring and summer with an organic fertilizer and mulch as needed. Water deeply and infrequently, soaking the entire root system but keeping the trunk primarily dry, instead of brief frequent bursts from overhead sprinklers.

Reason #6: It was Poorly Pollinated or Needs a Pollinator

Without good pollination, fruit trees will have lots of flowers, but fail to produce fruit. To have fruit, trees need bees and other pollinators during their brief bloom period. Insecticides applied at the wrong time will discourage or even kill many of these pollinators. Furthermore, if the tree happens to be blooming at the same time we experience a prolonged rainy or cold period, the pollinators won’t have a chance to do their job.

Many varieties, including most plums, pluots, plumcots, almonds, apples, pears and a few citrus require cross pollination from a variety that blooms at the same time, with compatible pollen. These "self-unfruitful" varieties cannot produce fruit themselves – they need a mate.

Reason #7: It Produces Fruit in Alternate Years

Some fruit trees, especially avocados, apples and apricots, are alternate bearing - they bear heavily one year and little the next. This tendency can be negated somewhat with early and judicious fruit thinning during the heavy years.

Reason #8: It was Pruned Incorrectly

This is especially common with stonefruits like plums, pluots and apricots, but also with apples and pears. Fruiting trees require different pruning strategies than ornamental trees. Apples and apricots, for instance, bear fruit on the same spurs year-after-year. Pruning all the little dead looking stubs off the tree in winter is a sure way to guarantee no fruit the following year. Peaches, lemons, pomegranates, avocados, oranges, figs, persimmons, etc. – they’re all pruned differently.

Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar and his profile can be seen at www.themulch.com/mulch-community/609-ron-vanderhoff/profile.

Questions from Readers July 3

Question:

I need some suggestions for plant in rather deep shade. I’ve tried camellias, impatiens, azaleas and a few others, but they haven’t done very well.

Lauren, Huntington Beach

Answer: 

If you have deep shade you will need to be very selective. A few plants to consider are fatsia, aucuba, mahonia, osmanthus, clivia, ligularia, pachysandra and several ferns, such as giant chain fern, sword fern and holly fern. A woodland effect with some of these blended to contrast their foliage patterns and growth habits can be quite soothing and beautiful. If the area is warm enough in the winter you can add some indoor plants for a splash of color, such as spathiphyllum (peace lily), variegated pothos and various brightly colored crotons.

Save

Save

Save


Plant Care Reminders

Blue Bunny Hydrangea monthly plant care
Shrubs Proven Winners

Hydrangea - Blue Bunny (Hydrangea involucrata 'Wim Rutten' ) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Pot Marigold Mohtly Plant Care
Herbs Coastal Sage Gardening

Marigold - Pot (Calendula officinalis) - Monthly Plant Care Reminders

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Hosta la Vista - Baby

24754 Sandie Parrott
Hosta Care
Everyone knows about Hosta, don’t they? Did you know some varieties grow in sun?

Rose (Rosa hybrid) - Monthly Plant Care…

5549 Steve Brigham
Rose Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea Botrytis…

1218 San Diego Seed Company
Cauliflower Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Gardening Articles

Zuchini Blossom
Seasonal Gardening Kate Copsey

The Southern Vegetable Garden in Summer

Summer is synonymous with fresh tomatoes, sweet corn and watermelon.
Slime Mold

Oh My -- There's a Hideous Blob in my Garden

If you are reading this while feasting on a scrambled egg breakfast, you may want to turn the page now and come back to the article a little later in the day. Make that a lot later.

APLD International Landscape Design Merit Award Winner: Geneviѐve Joёlle Villamizar

2614
Genny's Garden Makeover
Association of Professional Landscape Designers Announces: Annual International Landscape…

Fall blooming Bulbs

4706
Gladiolas Blooming
Continue the parade of color once daffodils, tulips, crocuses and hyacinths have put on…

Plant a Garden for the Seasons

3479
Seasons in the Garden
One of the greatest joys that a garden has to offer is as a reminder of seasonal change.

Plant Recommendations

Jacaranda
Plant Recommendations JANET WANERKA

Trees - Southern California by Janet Wanerka

Janet Wanerka's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Trees for Southern California.
Michelia champaca flower
Plant Recommendations Brenda Gousha

Trees - Southern California by Brenda Gousha

Brenda Gousha's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Trees for Southern California. 

Butterfly Plants - Southern California

7230 Steve Brigham
Pentas lanceolata 'Crimson Star'
Steve Brigham's Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite Butterfly Plants for Southern…

California Native Groundcovers -…

20101 Greg Rubin
Ceanothus Carmel Creeper
Greg Rubin's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite California Native Groundcovers.

Shrubs - Oregon

15543 Dawn Hummel
Ceonothus Ray Hartman
Dawn Hummel's Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite Shrubs for Oregon (Sunset zone 8, USDA…

Featured Plant Care

Zigzag Wattle Plant Care - photo courtesy Brian Walter via Wikipedia Commons

Zigzag Wattle (Acacia merinthophora) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Shrubs
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Aeonium Monthly Plant Care

Aeonium spp (Aeonium) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Broccoli - Early Purple Sprouting (Brassica oleracea 'Early Purple Sprouting') - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Edibles
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Pruning spring shrubs

How to Prune Azaleas and Other Spring Flowering Shrubs

in Shrubs
Spring is almost over in the south, and those wonderful blooms that lit up the landscape…

Latest Articles

Edit Your Tagged Photos!

How to Edit or Remove A Plant "Tag" In Your Garden Photos

Instead of 'Tagging' your friends on Facebook, now you can 'Tag' your Plants in your…
Seed Starting

10 Easy Cut Flowers to Direct Sow

in Seeds
A cut-flower garden or "cutting garden" allows you to bring the beauty of your garden…

Popular Articles

Baseball Field Maintenance

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

in Lawn
More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977
Microgreens

What are Microgreens and How to Grow Them

in Edibles
Microgreens are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seed and require very little…
Kahili Ginger Plant Care

Hedychium gardnerianum (Kahili Ginger) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)