26d6d1f974870311f52a8335985632c7

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


User Guides

User Guides The Mulch Team

Deleting a Plant From Your Plant Lists (My Plants, My Wishlist etc)

Creating Plant Lists is one feature that really makes the community unique!
Tag your plants!
User Guides Super User

Use Our 'Tag a Plant' Feature For Your Plant Photos

Instead of 'Tagging' your friends on Facebook, now you can 'Tag' your Plants in your photos!
TAG your plant photos!
User Guides The Mulch Team

How to Tag Plants In Your Garden Photos

Instead of 'Tagging' your friends on Facebook, now you can 'Tag' your Plants in your photos!
Create Your Personal Plant List!
User Guides The Mulch Team

Creating Your Personal Plant List

Create Your Personal Plant List - This is one feature that really makes the community unique.

Create Your Own Photo Gallery

25433 The Mulch Team
Default Image
This is a fun way to show off your photos of gardening…

Home Gardener: Using All The Great Features on the Mulch

782118 The Mulch Team
Using the Mulch for Home Gardeners
You Can Use The Great Features on the Mulch For Free!

Finding which members have a particular plant you are looking for?

16996 The Mulch Team
One of the really great features at the Mulch is that we…

My Profile: Edit, Answer Questions, Change Avatar, Change Password etc.

26925 The Mulch Team
Edit Your Profile
It's easy to edit your My Profile page, where you can…

Add Multiple Plants to My Plant Lists

35393 The Mulch Team
Add multiple plants at one time!
Yes - Now It's Possible To Add Multiple Plants at One Time.

Add Your Climate Zone to Your Profile

101474 The Mulch Team
Add your climate zone!
Please take a minute and add your climate zone to your…

Calendar - Posting Your Own Events

57207 The Mulch Team
Create an event
Now you can post your own club events, garden tours, plant…

Creating Monthly Plant Care Reminders

25915 The Mulch Team
Create Plant Care!
Sign Up Today to Use Our Free System to CREATE plant care…

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

18514 The Mulch Team
Edit Your Tagged Photos!
Instead of 'Tagging' your friends on Facebook, now you can…

Send a Private Message

18098 The Mulch Team
Send a private message.
It's easy to do.

Add Your Company Link To Our Directory of Goods and Services

74979 The Mulch Team
Gardening Directory
Add Your Company Link To Our Directory of Goods and…

Finding Your Gardening Climate Zone

64791 The Mulch Team
Find Your Garden Climate Zone
Finding Your Climate Zone is an Important Part of Using the…

Add a Photo of a Specific Plant to the Plant Encyclopedia

32042 The Mulch Team
Add your plant photos!
We love when people add their plant photos to the Plant…

Featured Plant Care

Vanda Orchid Plant Care

Vanda Orchid Plant Care

in Orchids
Orchids are as easy as A - B - C!
Camellia sasanqua Monthly Plant Care

Camellia - Christmas (Camellia sasanqua) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

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

Corn - Sweet Edible (Zea mays var. rugosa) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

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

Latest Articles

Peach Leaf Curl

Peach Leaf Curl - Information Hub

Peach leaf curl is a common problem found on leaves of Peaches and Nectarines (and their…
Avocado Information Hub

Avocado - Growing and Plant Care Information Hub

in Edibles
We're bringing relevant information about Avocados (Persea americana) to one fantastic…

Popular Articles

Using the Mulch for Home Gardeners

Home Gardener: Using All The Great Features on the Mulch

You Can Use The Great Features on the Mulch For Free!
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…

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)

Upcoming Events

View All Events

Who's Online

We have 2154 guests and no members online