Fruit Trees in a Flood Plain

Hi everyone,

I’m looking for any experience people have with their fruit trees being flooded or in standing water every few years.

I’ve run out of room in the front yard, but my back yard is 15’ lower and on a small river that floods for 2-4 weeks in late May or early June every so often (2011 & 2017 recently).

None of the existing trees have had problems - white pine, burning bush, juniper, beech, box elder, wild roses, invasive elm, and an old gnarly golden delicious apple right on the river bank maybe from when the area was an orchard prior to the 1960s.

What might be more likely to survive or be particularly bad to plant back there?

I’m interested in adding a Prok persimmon, a Weeping Santa Rosa plum, another Honeycrisp apple, a TBD sweet cherry, and a Satsuma plum.

(For better or worse, I did plant two pawpaws back there this year already.)

I could plant these in the back, but could also swap them out for something in the front and restart that in the back if it’s more suitable to the occasional wet condition.

Front yard: 5 peaches, 5 nectarines, 3 apples, 2 sweet cherries, 2 sour cherries, 1 Stanley plum, 2 pears, 1 pluot , 1 pluerry, 2 edible flowering plums

Zone 5b/6a. Northern Utah. Hot days but cool nights. Dry. Low disease and pest pressure. Soil is well drained but rocky.

Thanks for any thoughts…

You are too far north, I think, for Ogeche lime (Nyssa ogeche; male & female are separate trees so not very practical) and mayhaws (Crataegus opaca & related) which are actually native to wetlands. Blueberries are native to areas that tend to be seasonally (usually spring) wet, but your pH is likely too high since you are in the west. Malus fusca is native to wet areas in the Pacific Northwest and might be useful as a rootstock for apples, but if you are well drained, you might not be wet enough? American persimmons and many nut trees (native walnuts [which may poison your soil for other plants] and several hickories) are often found in “bottomlands” (forests that seasonally but briefly flood), so should work. Elderberries love wet areas. I don’t think they taste great, but they are popular “health foods.”

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Flooding isn’t a big problem (unless the river is fast)…but the amount of hours or days under water could be a problem.

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After posting this, I did find this forum posting about some flood conditions an orchard had. Their summary (w/ photos):

Pear ≥ Persimmon > Peach ≥ Plum ≥ Pawpaw ≥ Apricot

This USFS persimmon fact sheet from 1993 also lists persimmons as flood tolerant under soil tolerances:

I plant what nature does in a spot like that. As an example i have found some callery pears tolerate water. Pawpaw don’t mind water.


I have some wet areas that killed fruit trees 2 years in a row, I kept replacing them but they survived the third year when I made a small mound to keep the crown elevated above the flooding. Works so far. Can’t speak on long term success yet as it is still young.

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I have never had luck on Prunus living long if the site is wet. Apple is more tolerant.

I agree avoid Prunus where trees have wet feet unless you mound them very high. So no cherries, plums or peaches.

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Possibly the native American plum?

I see native persimmon living happily in “vernal ponds” here in Maryland. These ponds fill in spring for several months and persimmon do well in them (as does a whole raft of rare and endemic species.)


I’m taking a similar approach. I plowed up my ground and will blade it into ridges to give roots a chance to breathe. How high and wide are your mounds?

Yes, I have no experience with it. I recently added Dunbars plum ( Prunus x dunbari ) as it flowers late and it does! Flowers are not open yet! And a cross of Dunbars with American to possibly use as rootstock (seeds that is). Small pretty trees for sure. I will probably make a syrup with the plums in the future. Or jam or whatever strikes my fancy.

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P.18 apple rootstock is noted to be “tolerant of wet feet”. It may be a good choice of apple rootstock for areas of temporary flooding. I have an area that holds surface water in spring, and I’ll plant my trees on P.18 in that area.

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Pawpaw naturally prefer riverbanks to live. Plant more pawpaw.


Thanks for everyone’s response! Very helpful.

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I’m not sure how many gallons of dirt each mound is, once compacted by the rain I’d say they are only six inches high and maybe 2’ wide. I read somewhere only the crown needed to be above the wet and the rest of the roots were just to anchor the tree. Not sure if this is true but I have been able to plant everywhere in my yard now that previously killed trees in the low areas.

Have you looked at @Olpea 's posts with pictures? He has a beautiful commercial peach orchard in eastern Kansas. He created terraces/ridges in which he plants his peach trees. I can’t find the exact posts where he mentions the dimensions. When he gets a chance, I bet he can give you more details!
Here’s a video he posted where he is doing some pruning, and you can clearly see the terrace his trees are planted on.


Here are a couple videos I posted late last summer building more terraces. I originally videoed these for the benefit of any interested customers on my social media.

I recognize not all people will need equipment this large to build raised plantings. I’ve also used skid loaders to build mounds, as well as built them by hand in my back yard. Additionally I’ve built mounds in my backyard by renting a small stand up loader (small machine) to build up dirt.


On lunch break during a construction job a laborer climbed into a piece of heavy equipment to eat his sandwich.
As he climbed out he said to the operator,
“ Boy , if I knew what all these buttons and leavers did,? …I could really run this thing !


In the video I was trying to film and run it at the same time. I really needed a third hand. I kept saying in the video I was trying to steer and blade, but what I meant was trying to film and blade. Filming and grading and trying to explain was just more multitasking than I could do.

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