Low maintenance fruit varieties for the lazy gardener

Yes, I realize that “low maintenance” and “fruit trees” don’t go together very well :slight_smile:
BUT… what are your most care free varieties of fruiting plants for your zone? The most reliable ones that crop year after year with total neglect? Any fruiting plants from raspberries to pears… Just curious.

Thanks!

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Hi Kate, I’m in zone 7a and there are no ‘low maintenance’ fruit trees that grow here. Humidity, borers, OFM, CAR, PC, you name it we’ve got it. I keep my raspberries and blackberries netted so they do well. They are about as ‘little’ maintenance as you can get. Fruit trees in NE take care and work. :relaxed:

Blueberries are p.rock solid here in NYC 7b. A well planted blueberry with 1 yearly application of something organic like holytone will do quite well and be very productive with little to no issue for many years in most climates.

Probably figs, followed by citrus.

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Its really going to matter where you are. For the majority of Texas the most low maintenance tree is the pear. If you look at an old abandoned farmhouse, everything else maybe dead and the house falling down but many times you will still find an old, half dead pear tree that is still producing fruit.

Kate,

If you plan to move to z6 or z7, then try black rasps. Plant them early spring in full sun. They are totally carefree and will go on auto-pilot. Pull away and discard any canes 3 years-old or older (to prevent mold). They will grow like weeds, and in time, give you bucketloads of delicious antioxidant-rich berries every summer. The only drawbacks: the berries can stain your clothes; unruly patches must be clipped back if the rhizomes spread too far; and they have nasty thorns-- ouch!

P.S. They can even tolerate part shade and still fruit.

Kate, you know where I am. Our weather is very similar, except that I’m in the heat bowl of the midlands. It doesn’t get quite as cold here in the winter, and our summers are hotter and even drier than your area. Hotter as in this was another year where the entire season was in the 100’s and upper 90’s again.

I have 3 things that are totally care free once established - figs and blueberries, especially rabbit eyes. They don’t even require extra water during droughty summers. Pomegranates are almost zero care, unless an awful tree guy brings a great big pine down on them.

Others take little care. Slip skin grapes take little care, other than a late winter pruning and that they can require water - unless the vines get sick. Japanese persimmons do well on their own as long as you can stand seeing their youngest leaves attacked by aphids through the entire first half of summer.

Pineapples love the weather and aren’t bothered by anything, as long as you can bring them in for the coldest months. Then you can practically ignore them until you take them out in spring.

If they have good soil and a drip system for summer, bananas will grow great. However, they don’t always make it over the winter unless they are dug up and tossed under the deck or tossed somewhere else where their growing parts won’t freeze while they rest for the winter.

Wild blackberries seem to make lots of fruit regardless of the year, but I wouldn’t call them carefree because I expend much futile effort, and get many cuts and scratches trying to get rid of them.

One happy surprise I had this year was discovering that I actually CAN grow rhubarb here. What did the trick was putting it in a good sized root bag and keeping well watered and heavily shaded.

I don’t think my “easy care list” contains a single fruit that our state is known for growing well. But then, commercial producers don’t really flock to this area.

Now, if you had asked what is a pain in the neck to grow, I could have made a really long list. :wink:

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So jealous on the rhubarb. Have tried many times and many ways here. No dice.

Rhubarb grows carefree here, but I’ve never been inspired to grow it. What exactly am I missing, beyond strawberry rhubarb pie? My wife and I are too busy to bake in spring anyway.

Thanks everyone! Reason I ask is that I am putting in an edible garden for an older couple who probably aren’t going to do a whole lot of maintenance. Trying to put in stuff that doesn’t require much care to crop well, in 7b/8a (right on the line). Right now rabbiteyes, some of the cold hardiest figs, kieffer and other tough pears, black raspberries, asian persimmons and maybe some others. I think blackberries are out because of the spreading.

I am willing to put in some work for a great tasting variety, so don’t think the lazy gardener is me, although I certainly have been known to choose the hammock over the shovel on occasion… :smile:

Yes, been dealing with this all summer! Stupid aphids…

Figs and poms are only marginal here bc of Greenville’s winters, but rabbiteyes grow quite well.

Definitely will Matt!

My wife grew up in the midwest where growing rhubarb was effortless. She goes on and on about munching fresh rhubarb straight out of the ground. I know nothing of this having grown up here in Phoenix…but I do very much like rhubarb pie.

My dwarf mulberry, fig and feijoa are my easiest fruits to grow. I would also add pawpaw to the list already given.
Elderberry and beautyberry are native and don’t need care.

I don’t know how old the couple are but pears can take a long time to bear, something you may want to keep in mind. Pawpaws can take several years also.

Speaking of the trees I think mulberries are really care free. I do not have any cultured variety yet. But they grow everywhere around me as a weedy trees. We pick a lot during the season.
Berries, like currants, gooseberries, raspberries and blackberries are all low maintenance. They usually do not require spraying, but may require weeding, pruning, fertilizing and protecting the harvest from birds.
Apples and pears are the easiest to grow traditional fruit trees.

c5tiger, would Feijoa do ok in Greenville 7b/8a or is it too cold for it? I have no experience with it.

Good point, I’ll add mulberries and elderberries to the list. Maybe pawpaws… they seem to take FOREVER to fruit though! Maybe I just need to learn how to grow them better?

I think this site is too hot for currants and gooseberries, but I will definitely be planting them when I get my own place a bit north. They are the best!

I think persimmons and jujubes are low maintenance fruit trees and should grow at 7b/8a.

I’m certainly hoping that pawpaw and persimmon are care-free, since that’s part of the reason I planted them. Books claim they are, at least.

Mulberry is definitely care-free; I have several trees precisely because nobody cared for the yard for a few years. My black raspberry patch also didn’t mind the neglect.

This is my first year growing maypops, but it’s doing very well in a very sunny spot with poor soil. Can’t yet comment on the taste, but remember that you need two, and they can spread aggressively.

I usually see it listed the same as satsuma citrus but I can tell you it is much hardier than satsuma or kumquat. My feijoa are in the open unprotected and took no damage the last two years at 14 degrees. My protected cold hardy citrus took major damage at the same temp.

Muddy- What is a “root bag” you put on rhubarb?

The feijoa is one I hadn’t thought about, probably because mine hasn’t even produced flowers yet. It’s likely to be a really good one for Kate’s area since it appears even hardier than figs and works well for landscaping. It’s evergreen, has nice form and attractive foliage, and not even the smallest twigs were harmed last winter. It weathered that nasty March freeze without blinking.

Tiger, what varieties of citrus do you have outdoors, and how were they protected? Have they been able to recuperate over the summer?

Try some pawpaws on the east side of a building, shade first two years (unless grafted).