Home Orchard Starter Pack?

So I’ve read a lot of “best X variety?” threads, enough to notice at least somewhat of a trend in preference towards one or two varieties on here. I’ve also read many university extension recommendation guides when picking what I wanted to grow. I figured I would share what I think to be the generally recommended varieties for someone just starting a home orchard; varieties that are easy to grow, are reliable producers, good for fresh eating, and taste significantly better than what can be obtained at the store.

ABOUT CLIMATES This list is by no means conclusive and absolutely has a bias towards the eastern US, mid-atlantic, zone 6 - 8 grower. If you are in a region with a short growing season you will need to find short season varieties. Zone pushing is rarely worth the effort - make sure you check the recommended growing zones of each variety you buy.

POLLINATION INDICATOR Any fruit variety followed with an <RP> likely requires a pollinizer with a bloom period that overlaps in order to produce fruit. Any fruit variety followed with an <PI> is self-fruitful but will produce more fruit with a pollinator. You can usually find charts of varieties that pollinate each other.

RIPENING TIME INDICATOR Any fruit variety prefixed with an e: ripens earlier than average. Any fruit variety prefixed with an l: ripens later than average. If you want to extend your harvest period you should consider getting varieties that ripen at different times. (Note: this indicator is a work in progress and is not yet added)

??? = Selection not complete, needs more research
(?) = Not 100% sure of this variety, but it’s generally has good reviews

Apple: Ginger Gold (Early) <RP> / Williams Pride (Early) <RP> / Gold Rush (Late) <RP>
Pear (asian): Korean Giant <RP> / Kosui <RP>
Pear (euro): Harrow Sweet <RP> / Harvest Queen <RP> / Seckel <RP>

Peach: e: Winblo / e: Gold Dust(?) / Red Haven / Reliance(?)
Nectarine: Easternglo / Summer Beaut
Apricot: Tomcot <PI>
Plum (japanese): Satsuma <RP>
Pluot / Aprium: ???
Cherry (sweet): Black Gold / White Gold
Cherry (sour): Montmorency / Juliet / Romeo(?)

Mulberry: Gerardi (Girardi) Dwarf Mulberry / ???
Pawpaw: Mango <RP> / Wabash <RP>
Persimmon (non-astringent): Jiro / Tam Kam
Persimmon (astringent): Saijo / Prok
Fig: Chicago Hardy / Florea / Ronde de Bordeaux(?) / Marseilles Black VS(?)
Jujubes: Honey Jar <PI> / ???
Pomegranates: Salavatski(?)
Citrus: Improved Meyer (in 10gal pot)

Blueberry: Bluecrop <PI> / Patriot <PI> / Late Blue(?) <PI>
Honeyberry: Aurora <RP> / Indigo Gem <RP> / Honeybee <RP>
Raspberry: Caroline (red) / Anne or Fall Gold (yellow) / Royalty (purple)
Blackberry: Prime-ark Freedom / Triple Crown
Currant: Pink Champagne (pink) / Jonkheer Van Tets (red)
Gooseberry: Poorman / Hinnomaki Red
Strawberry: Mara des Bois / Jewel

Grapes (table): Jupiter(?)
Grapes (muscadine): Black Beauty <RP> / Supreme <RP> / Lane (use as pollinator)
Hardy Kiwi: ???

I would love for others to give their input. Clearly everyone has their favorites and this list is likely biased with my favorites, but I want to make this more about what the general preference of this forum is for each species… so please correct me and add your interpretations.


Gold rush for me (zone 5B Massachusetts) doesn’t get ripe before first frost.


For peach, Reliance is known for cold hardines. It is one of the most cold hardy peaches that produces reasonably good peaches.

Best tasting peach? That’s is debatable. In the east, Winblo is often mentioned but there are other names mentioned, too.

I think Asian pear, Korean Giant aka Olympic does well in many areas of the country.

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I like your pear choices but I think you need another half dozen apples! I would add Karmijn de Sonneville, Rubinette, Liberty, Winesap, Calville Blanc.


I have to agree with Mark on the apple choices, in the west Goldrush doesn’t seem to develop much flavor, kind of a bland sweet (my steers enjoyed them last year, and I am enjoying them this year):grin:

Wickson apples: small but yummy
Peaches: Baby Crawford, Redhaven
Sweet Cherries: Cashmere
Meeker raspberries: deep raspberry flavor plenty of sugar and acid. Not sure how they would fare in a high humidity environment, foliage sunburns
Hood Strawberries: are sensitive to grow but the flavor is unmatched

No way… im in zone 5b too (upstate NY) and i just planted 4 goldrush. Do they still come out edible for you? can you tell me more? Didnt even think of our short grow season. I just bench grafted them and but em in the ground 3 days ago…

Also, to the owner of the thread, satsuma is a great choice among japanese varieties. Have you considered adding a gage plum? They are incredibly delicious

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They are edible, but far from superior as they usually pictured. They are green, a little astringent for me, but still ok if you manage not to get bitter pit. But I only had apples one season so far, may be they get better as tree matured .


@dimitri_7a. I will probably add varieties for my area later. Just wanted to say I think this topic has a lot of potential to help others.


You ma6 want to separate Euro from Asian on plums, persimmons as they don’t taste the same.

Also, there should be a separate entry for sweet and sour cherries.

Wonder if there should be zone limits in parenthesis i.e. Gold Rush (zone 6-8) or something like that. This also true with other warmer fruit such as southern pears vs northern pears.

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I am in 6a, so far GR does not have enough time to fully ripen but they are good enough. I think you run a risk with GR in your zone.

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Just to pick up on Galina’s and mamuang’s point, I also live in zone 5b MA, a couple of hours west of Boston, and the info I got from a local orchard was that Goldrush is the very latest apple they grow and that it does not ripen reliably for them (something like a 50/50 proposition of ripening fully). People in other places may have different experiences, but that seems to be the word around here.

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A lot of good choices there that could do well in different zones and climates. I’d maybe add Hoople’s to the apples and have a pluot or interspecific hybrid category. For pawpaw, I’d suggest mango and Maria’s Joy. Maybe an American persimmon too, Prok. And hybrid persimmon, JT-02.

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I’d like to see that.

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I have a very old fruit book (forget which one) which has this kind of list in it, and they also divide the country up into different regions and have different lists for different regions. It was interesting to see how aware they were of the need for different varieties based on geography. Anyway, I think this is a great idea but it would need to be broken down by region in the way this old book did it.


@galinas @JinMA Updated with a preface that this guide is biased towards the eastern US zone 6 - 8 grower.

@mamuang Added Korean Giant, read that one mentioned many times, thanks. What would you say is the most easy to manage / disease resistant peach tree? Per your suggestion I separated plums into Japanese and Pluots, not sure how much demand there is to warrant adding a euro plum category (even though I love prunes!). Also split the cherry category. I contemplated adding a cold region / short season tags but I feel like I can’t do the selection process justice.

@marknmt Trying to keep the scope small (2-3 choices) for each species, if you had to pick two apples to grow that fit the criteria of begin easy to grow, reliable producers, and taste great what would you pick.

@ChrisL Added Redhaven, seen that preferred many times. Also saw Wickson mentioned but need to look into it more.

@Mycorneroftheearth Added Satsuma. :+1: I’ve seen Green Gage mentioned but it looks like there is some difficulty growing it or inconsistent yields. This guide is more focused on fool-proof varieties for someone just starting out. When I have some time I will look into it more.

@Auburn I would love to see alternate versions of this guide! Especially ones for colder regions / shorter seasons and conversely for warmer regions with sub-tropical species.

@SMC_zone6 Thanks! Added pluot category from your suggestion. Seen Mango and Prok mentioned positively before so I added those. Need to look into the other varieties.

@scottfsmith Thanks! I added a preface that this guide is biased towards the eastern US zone 6 - 8 grower, and considering editing the thread title. I would love to add region specific guides or variety tags but that is well outside my scope of knowledge. What regions would you break such a guide down into?


Is this the book you were referring to, Scott?

Thanks for posting it, it was very cool to read through.


Yes calling anything best is almost always debatable. The term “excellant” or “very good” works better.

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Totally agree.

Goldrush is great and gets wide support, at least in this general area. I’m not sure about Mark’s list- I definitely wouldn’t include Liberty or Winesap (though it isn’t bad and I actually like it, it is more low-sugar than what I would consider top candidates). I haven’t significantly tried the other 3. Other options I would push would be Golden Russet or Ashmead’s Kernel. Maybe Kidds Orange Red if you want something not russeted.

I wouldn’t put Redhaven on the list. At least not in this part of the country- I’ve heard that it is excellent further west. Instead, I’d go with Gold Dust (early), Loring (mid-late) and Carnival (very late).

For currants, Rovada is a good red one with larger berries.

For gooseberries, I like the 2 you’ve listed, but Hinnomaki Yellow and Jeanne have given me the tastiest berries. Both have also been very weak growers. In fact at least one if not both have eventually died, while Hinnomaki Red and Poorman are going strong.

For pluots, I haven’t gotten a crop myself, but Flavor grenade is great (from other sources) and I’ve heard that it can be grown well here (hopefully this is the year for mine…).

For mulberries, Oscar is good tasting and Geraldi is most productive and dwarfed.

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Surpried at that. What is it’s weakness? Redhaven is reliable and good tasting for me. In what way are the ones you listed better.

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