Growing your own fruit trees is such an amazing and rewarding experience. Nothing is quite as gratifying as picking a fresh, juicy piece of fruit from your own backyard to enjoy as a sweet snack or use in the kitchen.
If you’re interested in growing your own, you should know that most fruit trees do best when planted in the fall. This might seem surprising, but there are many factors that make fall planting beneficial for different varieties of fruit trees.
Get some ideas and information on how to give yourself the best chance at success in discovering fruit trees to plant in the fall.
Tree Varieties to Plant in the Fall
You can technically plant most fruit trees at any time of the year, but fall is definitely preferable.
It might feel counterintuitive to plant a fruit tree in the fall, but it’s actually the perfect time. This is due to a few factors.
Lower temperatures mean a less stressful process for the plant as it gets acclimated after planting. This gives the tree a chance to get its root system established before winter sets in. Getting a strong root network is the best way to ensure your fruit tree is off to a great start.
When fall is over, it can go dormant during colder weather. This allows the fruit tree to be ready to sprout leaves and continue to grow in the spring, at which time it won’t require much water at all.
As the frost thaws, the young fruit tree will get a good amount of watering naturally from the soil. Coming into spring with solid roots that can immediately start pulling in moisture and nutrients will make for a happy and healthy tree.
All of these factors together can help result in more prolific fruiting once the tree matures enough to grow fruit.
Planting fruit trees in the fall comes with one caveat: check your hardiness zone before you get started. In areas with very long winter seasons where the ground is frozen by October or November, it’s best to wait until spring. Otherwise, the young fruit tree will likely struggle to survive the winter or may not make it to spring at all.
Here are some great fruit trees to plant in the fall to get your own backyard fruit harvests every year.
1. Apple Trees
Growing apple trees is a classic for people in many different areas. They do best in zones 3 to 5 and are generally regarded as hardy plants.
Apples are known for being picked in the fall, but they’re also ideal for fall planting. Apple trees come in so many different varieties, so you can easily find one that you’ll love.
Growing apple trees is a great place to start with fruit trees to plant in the fall as they don’t have super specific environmental requirements.
It can take several years until the tree is large and old enough to bear fruit regularly. Once they’re ready, they will typically have apples ready to pick in early fall.
2. Peach Trees
You might not realize that peach trees can also grow in a variety of climates.
The Southern United States is usually what people think of most often, but many varieties do well elsewhere too. Overall they prefer to grow in warmer areas but are happy growing in hardiness zones 4 to 9. Peach trees do even better in zones 6 and 7.
Peaches typically ripen in the summertime, making them perfect to enjoy straight off the tree or in lots of fun summer recipes.
Some varieties of peach trees are self-pollinating, while others require multiple trees nearby for cross-pollination. Make sure you check to see if the ones you’re looking at will need you to plant extra fruit trees in the fall in order to grow fruit.
3. Citrus Trees
Like peaches, citrus trees prefer warmer climates to be very productive and grow most successfully in zones 8 to 11.
This is why you often hear about Florida oranges, although there are many that can thrive in cooler climates like Zone 7. This is especially true if you’re able to bring them inside during the winter, which is common with many dwarf varieties.
In either situation, citrus varieties are ideal fruit trees to plant in the fall.
There are so many fun types of citrus trees you can grow. Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits are the most common.
The best part about planting citrus trees in the fall is that you’ll be able to make freshly squeezed juice whenever you want it.
Many citrus varieties have ripe fruit in the winter, although many can fruit more than once or be ready to pick in other seasons as well.
4. Cherry Trees
Growing cherry trees not only gives you the benefit of delicious fresh cherries, but you’ll also enjoy their beautiful blossoms every spring.
Cherries are great fruit trees to plant in the fall and grow best in hardiness zones 5 to 7.
The only downside of growing cherry trees is you might find that very few cherries make it inside! You’ll be too busy snacking on them freshly picked. If you do manage to harvest a lot of them, you’ll love baking a perfect cherry pie.
5. Plum Trees
Plum trees are not to be missed, though they’re a less common fruit tree to plant in the fall.
Plum trees do well in zones 4 to 9, so most of the United States is suitable for growing them. Most plum varieties are pretty easy to grow and are hardy in very low temperatures, perfect for people who live where they have limited growing options.
Plums typically ripen around summertime for the perfect summer treat. There are so many different varieties of plums to suit your preferences, whether you plan to cook with them or just enjoy them fresh and juicy.
Other Great Fruit Trees to Plant in the Fall
There are so many other fruit trees to plant in the fall that you can grow to have your own delicious fresh fruit.
Pears, figs, persimmon, kumquat, even olives, and pomegranates can be planted in the fall and grown in appropriate areas.
No matter what kind of fruit tree you’re interested in growing, always be sure to double-check your hardiness zone before you get started. You’ll also want to make sure you know whether or not the variety you’re looking at growing is self-pollinating. If it isn’t and you only get one tree, you are likely going to find that you don’t get any fruit.
If you want to grow a type of fruit tree that isn’t as well suited for your area, consider selecting dwarf varieties. This will allow you to keep the trees outside during the warmest times of the year and bring them in once it gets too cold. Many of these smaller fruit trees can grow well in pots and still bear fruit.
Tips for Planting Fruit Trees in the Fall
While fall is often ideal for planting fruit trees, there are still some things to keep in mind to give you the best chance at success.
Depending on the size of the tree you start with, be prepared to wait up to a few years before the tree begins to bear fruit.
Choose Your Fruit Trees Wisely
As with any plant, certain fruit trees are best suited to certain climates and environments.
If you really want a prolific tree, pay close attention to the species and varieties that do best in your general area and hardiness zone. These are the trees that are already adapted to your soil makeup and weather and are, therefore, most likely to thrive. They’ll also require less maintenance as they grow.
You might be planting fruit trees in the fall, but remember that most of the growing will happen in the spring and summer.
When choosing the spot for your fruit trees, consider what the sunlight will be like for the rest of the year. Most fruit trees require full sun and well-draining soil, and they often benefit from applying mulch to help retain moisture.
Prepare the area well and dig a hole that can comfortably fit the entire root ball. Hold off on soil amendments–for now, just add mulch to help maintain moisture in the soil. You can always add fertilizers and other nutrients in the spring, but it’s not helpful before the plant will go dormant for the season.
Some varieties of fruit trees planted in the fall require more than one tree nearby in order to cross-pollinate.
Make sure you have enough trees if this is the case, and be aware of the types of trees that are compatible for cross-pollination. You need a variety of genetics, but they have to be closely related enough to each other to pollinate successfully.
Protecting Young Fruit Trees Planted in the Fall
Once spring rolls around, you’ll start to see leaves and buds popping up on the fruit trees planted in the fall.
Be on the lookout for wildlife that wants to snack on those delicate leaves. You can fence off the area where the trees are or add netting to keep critters away. It’s essential that these young trees have plenty of leaves, or they’ll struggle to draw in enough sunlight and nutrients.
Once your trees begin to fruit, they’ll also attract birds and small mammals, so keep a close eye on nearly ripe fruit. You want to pick it before animals have a chance to find it and start nibbling on all your fresh fruit.
Enjoy Your Backyard Fruit Trees
Growing your own fruit trees is so rewarding and fun.
Planting fruit trees in the fall is one of the best ways you can set yourself up for success and end up with delicious, sweet fruits freshly picked. It might be easier than you think!
Learn more about growing all different kinds of fruit trees to see all the amazing things you can access from your own backyard.