Fruit Tree Spatial compatibility

Hi everyone,

Are there any of the following fruit trees which particularly do not like growing next to the others? I am interested in trying some of them and are wondering if they are spatially incompatible for any reason. Thanks!


Interesting concept “spatially incompatible”.

I would say similar species share diseases/pests more easy and if you want to avoid creating a hotspot or “monoculture”, it may be advantageous to have some heterogeneity to impede disease/pests.

And obvious root competition may occur if you plant too close. More vigorous trees could out-compete less vigorous trees.

Some trees (e.g. walnut) are Allelopathic, though I never read anyone here claim that of fruit trees.

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Some trees may not be allelopathic but will compete by other means like crown space (access to light). If you don’t prune regularly. Some will take space and some will try to grow around these and lean away. Some will grow faster, more upright, etc. But that is a concern when you plant too close or in a food forest where you want to plan, plant and then let the nature take it’s course(mostly).

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All free standing orchards must be pruned regularly no matter what the organization of species and varieties, but with apples, the range of vigor is almost as great as the rootstocks they grow on. And yet commercial orchards tend to space contrasting varieties as same distances, which certainly demonstrates the power of skillful pruning.

I think your question pertains more to rootstock than species, but pears tend to have narrower crowns than other species I grow. If you want to grow plums close to other trees, maybe start with ones on Citation roots, although I much prefer myro for longevity.

If a given variety of pear, apple, or European plum is precocious, it generally can be planted closer to other trees. For example, a spur form Ark. Black needs less than half the space as a N. Spy. Even Goldrush needs much less space than a Fuji on the same roots to function productively- it also requires much less pruning and less skillful pruning to manage.


As sockworth says, staggering / interspersing species is actually very healthy for biodiversity and avoiding clusters of disease or pests, so it’s actually a really good idea. Pollinators will have no trouble getting from one tree to another.

I think cultivars & rootstock will dictate your planning more than anything; you want to ensure you pay attention to root and canopy spread, and adjust for things like sunlight / areas of shadow, wind, elevation / wet vs dry pockets, etc. And of course you want to make sure you have compatible pollination partners within each species.

Aside from that, I think all those varieties are frequently happily grown together.


Thanks fruitbat. Although, when pollinators will have no trouble getting from one tree to another, I would imagine that pests and diseases would not either…? Even for non-flying ones, the wind would carry them presumably.


Very true, but depending on the type of critter or disease, some distance can still be better than none.

Right. But I am just wondering whether pollinators are more “motivated” to go from tree to tree than pests.

I thought it might be worth mentioning that it’s probably not a good idea to plant trees next to each other if the bloom times are radically different. I have a Surefire cherry that blooms late when the other cherries are well past petal fall. This makes spraying more difficult since I am spraying the other cherries with a mix of insecticide and fungicide while at the same time trying to avoid getting over spray on the Surefire cherry. If I had to do it again I would have planted the Surefire farther away from the other cherry trees. So you might think about bloom times and if that will effect spraying when you plan your orchard layout.

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I’ve planted my fruit trees together according to their pollinating partners. It’s also handy to net those close together that fruit at the same time. As fruitbat said, if your talking about pests then jumbling up your fruit tree varieties will reduce the target size and proximity for pests. Sunlight requirements, tree size and soil conditions are important to consider when planting. Give each tree adequate space.

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Unrelated to the topic, so forgive me: how do you like the Surefire cherry? I am debating that and the Montmorency for next year. Technically I could plant both…


I like the Surefire a lot. In many respects it is similar to Montmorency. Yields on the Surefire may be a bit lower than Montmoreny but I can’t directly compare them well since the Surefire is a smaller, younger tree. I would plant both if you can.