Hello. I’d like to start by first thanking Scott for sharing his knowledge and setting up this forum.
I live in Maryland a little north of the DC beltway (zone 7a). After living in my current house for over 20 years I finally decided to see if there are any easy fruit trees we can grow here. I had always assumed all fruit trees require lots of work to keep pests away. I was pleasantly surprised to see a few fruits which don’t require any spraying, and some of those are fruits I love. I wish I’d known that 20 years ago.
So I now plan to plant a few in my yard. I’m thinking only the easy ones: figs, pomegranate, jujube, pawpaw, mulberry; maybe not all at once.
I do have a few questions before I get started:
- Is there a good or bad time of year to plant fruit trees?
- How many years before they start bearing fruit?
- What’s the best place to find the easy to grow plants in the area (between DC and Baltimore)?
- Or should I just order online? If so, what are some good online places to buy?
Welcome to the forum. I’m over in Arlington, so very similar growing conditions.
If you can still find bare root trees to buy from mail-order places, now would be a fine time to order them and get them planted. You can also get potted trees locally, although there aren’t a lot of great choices without driving further, particularly for things like the types of plants you are looking for. If you had any other reason to make a road trip south past Harrisonburg, Edible Landscaping would be my suggestion. You can also buy online and have them ship them, but shipping can get pricey.
If you like persimmons at all, I would definitely consider adding that one to your list. They do well around here (both Asian and native types, plus hybrids) and don’t really seem to require any spraying, etc. If you have lots of squirrels, you might want to avoid non-astringent types since squirrels seem to grab those well before they are ripe.
There are lots of places to get figs, but they are addictive and most people who start with one fig soon have a whole collection of varieties.
For pawpaws, here are my quick answers. Just my version of the truth - take with a grain of salt.
- Plant in Spring (now) if at all possible. Pawpaws have many (charming) quirks, and this is one of them. However, you might still be ok with fall planting. Generally in the southern states you can get away with it but I would highly encourage spring for you.
- Depends on a combination of age and size…a decent sized grafted tree could give fruit in 2 years but more than likely you’re looking at 4-6 years. Seedlings more around 5-7.
- Edible Landscaping as @zendog mentioned…also if NJ is close enough for you, you have a great resource in Charlie West (Home).
- For mail order i recommend One Green World or Peaceful Heritage (though ordering here is a bit like playing the lottery). DO NOT BUY BARE ROOT PAWPAWS - only purchase containerized plants. They have a vastly better survival rate.
Im from a different continent. So ill leave others to comment on questions 3 & 4
When reading back your origional question. I realised i skipped over the types of fruit you want to grow.
My awnser was mainly focused at apples, pears, asian pears, plums, apricots, peaches and cherry’s. For those we use rootstocks of different vigors.
For figs mulberry’s etc you usualy have less choice in rootstock. It is still wise to think about how much space you have available and how much the plant “wants” and some of the other points are stil valid.
The best time to plant tree’s is fall, just after the tree’s let there leaves fal down.
This gives the tree’s some of the fall, the winter and spring to grown new hair roots. (those get destoryed when digging up/planting.
And the tree can continue growing virtualy the same as if id never been moved.
If your in a extreemly cold zone. somtimes a spring planting is better. But for you a fall planting is ideal. However a spring planting is also oky. And you can even plant potted tree’s in summer. Although i would advise against potted tree’s for multiple reasons. Bare root is significantly better. (and cheaper)
How soon tree’s bear fruit, will depend on 3 “main” factors.
1- rootstock. The more dwarfing the rootstock, generaly the sooner you get fruit. M27 for example is an extreme dwarf rootstock for apples. Can get you fruit 1-3 years after grafting.
2- the variety or type of fruit. some take longer to start fruiting than others.
3- How you treat your tree. Pruning to much (more than 33% of the whole tree) can get the tree to focus more on growing wood than growing fruit. Although this is usualy only a problem with older/larger tree’s.
Summer “lorrette” pruning on the other hand can hasten fruiting.
I however want to point out. “good fruits come to those who are patient”
I would not focus on getting fruits as soon as possible.
A fruit tree is a long term thing.
For example the M27 rootstock for apples might get you fruit 1 year earlier. But it needs a tree stake for life. Might be more disease susceptible. Also needs more fertilisation and irrigation. And might stay to small for your space.
There are also fruits/varieties that fruit earlier. But if they are disease prone or you don’t like the taste, whats the point of earlier fruiting?
I would focus mainly on what fruit you like? What fruit/variety is disease resistant and adapted to your climate/ growing conditions?
how much space, both in width and hight you have?
Than find a rootstock that can fill that space. And try and match the rootstocks disease resistance and soil preferance to your disease pressure and soil.
Try and buy the rootstock and variety combo. Or get the rootstock and graft it yourself
After you have planted the rootstock/tree. Id first focus on the “framwork” the main branches.
Do you have deer? do you want to mow beneath the tree? or walk/sit under it? Or do you want it low, so you can pick fruit/prune without a ladder?
What tree shape do you like? Espalier? Tall spindle? Vase? (open center)
Once you have established your framework. fruits will usualy follow within 1 to 2 years.
And the fruits will continue for years with reletivly little effort.
ps: figs can be planted year round (potted) and can fruit the year of planting. So that would be a good choice
Hi Nik. I’m just a little north of the Baltimore beltway.
I plant in early Spring shortly after the Almanacs predicted last frost. I’ll start putting trees/shurbs in the ground here next week. I’ll wait a tad bit longer for any tender delicate plants. You can also plant in the Fall.
Depends… how old the plant is when you buy it, what kind of fruit it is, rootstock. If you stick to buying trees from a nursery probably a couple years at least. Berry plants purchased from a nursery will often give you fruit the first season you plant them.
I also recommend Edible Landscaping in Afton, VA as being the closest place that has a huge quality selection of the type of plants your looking for. Nobody in the DC/Balt metro area really has anything comparable.
Yes I would mail order. I mail order from Edible Lanscaping. I also like Just Fruits & Exotics (FL), One Green World (OR), and Burnt Ridge (WA). JF&E has sent me beautiful jujube and persimmon trees. Edible Landscaping has sent me nice pears and goumis.
It seems like you’re into low maintenance and slightly off the beaten path plants. Other plants you might want to check out for 7A that fit a similar profile are Goumi, Honeyberry, Muscadine, Persimmon, and blight resistant Pear varieties
asian pears would proably also be nice.
If your area is not plagued by fire blight (like my area is )
Quinces and medlars are also really easy/low maintance. (i like the quinces the most)
Next to fruit tree’s. You can also consider berry’s
Things from the Ribes family are
-black courrants (casis flavor)
-hybrids like jostaberry
-some other “wild” types, Usualy less harvest/taste but might still be worth it.
From the rubus family.
-raspberry’s both summer (more climing like blackberry’s) and fall (more cane growth)
-hybrids between blackberry and rasphberry
-japanese wineberry ( Rubus phoenicolasius) I like the taste of these most. Really strong/easy plant But slightly smaller berry’s. And it might be invasive/illegal depending on where you are. (due to the invasive-ness.)
Another thing that you might also consider is, growing a strawberry patch. Can be a little more work. But they taste amazing. Especially when you “discover” the varieties that are selected for taste, and not their comercial atributes (comercial attributes like maximum harvest, hardness for easy travel/longer storage. Looks but not taste. since the consumer buys with their “eyes” not “mouth” etc)
Thank you for the suggestions and info. I placed an order with Edible Landscaping for 2 types of figs, 1 pomegranate and 1 blueberry. I think that’s enough for this season.
Cool. Be prepared for winter die back of the pomegranate.
Good thread here if you haven’t seen it yet: Pomegranates in zone 7