New to VA 8a growing

I am trying to get as much information about growing fruit and nuts in this zone. I learned most of my growing knowledge in Idaho. We have since relocated (from Japan, actually) to Gloucester, VA. The community is very different from Idaho and so is the climate!

I want to grow apples, pears, peaches, raspberries, blueberries… well just about anything/everything. I have been doing research but it’s not been ‘fruitful’.

Thank you for any suggestions or help.



Welcome! Don’t know much about zone 8 in Virginia…but some knowledge of it around Lake Wylie in South Carolina.

Pecans will do well, peaches maybe, some of the southern apples, some pears, jujubes, rabbiteye and other blueberries…6b here and 8 a offers many other options…from figs and olives to growing your own tea.


Welcome. There’s lots of good info to find using the search function on this forum. Also, when starting out I found some of the publications from the local county extension service very helpful in terms of what was easiest to grow in the region and what would be more challenging. A lot of that is based on how much pest management (spraying chemicals, etc) you are willing to do.


I live in the costal plain of VA. The extension office is ran by Virginia Tech and they actually don’t have many publications for my area. I called and they wanted me to talk to a master gardener. Most of them grow flowers or bulbs. It was not helpful.


Have you seen this?

Most of the Virginia Tech research and publications are directed toward commercial fruit and I don’t believe you are in an area with a lot of commercial fruit production. Blueberries, blackberries and peaches with a regular spray program should do well. Apples are going to be a challenge even with chemicals.


Oh yeah, Ive heard. However, there are quite a few varieties that don’t need as many “chill hours” as the varieties we see at the store. I will continue my research, buy some, and continue to keep track so I can help others in the future. I wonder what subtropical fruits would grow here… maybe in a high tunnel or green house in the winter.

Maybe you could help us by giving weather info such as high/lows and how many warm days you have. Do you get alot of ocean spray? Are you willing to cover things or do you have microclimates like stone walls or bricks that will let you grow warmer things? You may have to trial some varieties but i think you will be able to grow a few varieities of most fruit you like. How much space do you have?

When i first started i did not care to much about flowers but they feed your honeybees and predatory insects and ideally make things smell better and prettier but are better suited to the natural / organic or low spray gardening methods which are not popular on the EC here.

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I am in 8a. Highs mostly in the 80F’s and extreme lows I have experienced have been 26F.

I do have MANY trees and I am away from the city heat islands so were usually a few degrees cooler than the rest of my area. I would love to trial varieties! I plan on setting up a whole system of thermometers around the property that are connected to bluetooth. That way I can measure humidity, temp, wind, etc for the exact climate I have where I live. There is NO ocean spray. I do live hear the coast but maybe 2 or so miles and there are forests in between.

I will plant lots and lots of flowers. But that isn’t hard for me. haha. Trees are new and I am inexperienced.


I am very much into no spray. I lived near an orchard (a mile away) in Idaho that didn’t spray but weren’t certified organic. I loved going there a few times a week just to hang out with their owners. They were also veterans so it was nice.

If you have ANY more information, I would LOVE to talk and hear it. I have grown lots of veggies and flowers, but no fruit.


A couple nurseries in your area to look at are Edible Landscaping and Vintage Virginia apples. They will be good people to talk to about what plants will grow in your area and also their selection should be good for you. Edible landscaping is really into no spray and they have many fruits which don’t require spraying. However the common fruits like apples peaches and the like will require a lot of sprays.


It was old veterans that got me into natural and organic farming also! I definitely think you can do what you are planning and really like Scotts idea of both of those companies for good local advice on what works. I do think you really need to interplant and put different tree or shrub species between each other as a pest block. All bees (honey, mason bumble etc) or other pollinators wont flinch at flying 50-100’ but for many pests that is quite the walk and ideally they find a pest on the way to eat them. I try to do companion planting for each tree like garlic onions or chives as well as comfrey or other deeprooted plants (dandelions are great too) and put strawberries near my apples etc. Basil near grapes. I really reccomend anise hyssop for pollinators and maybe a few pollinator trees if you want landscape trees (summer or dearth flowering like basswood or sourwoods, European lindens, bee bee tree, seven son flower, black locust (thorny). I think lawns just invite and sustain pests only unless you include clover, dandelions or short flowering walkable plants (creeping thymes / mints, violas, chamomile, short fescues, birdsfoot trefoil and many things considered invasive or unwanted) and mow them at the highest setting.

There are plenty of effective natural or organic alternatives that people could use to there chemical sprays but these are usually much more expensive or require more applications. Beneficial bacteria and fungi products usually are not and many you can brew up on your own to create more for spraying. You will probably need to preventatively spray there for many of the commonly grown fruits but eventually the natural system works when you weed out what tree / plants do not. If you ever have a question on a product to use i would gladly reccomend a organic alternative i just do not try to use this site as a advertising platform (and usually only make recommendations when i see people advertising for a chemical company etc) as i love how Scott has set it up and there is such a free exchange of knowledge on here.

I really like the japanese style gardens and since i do not have as much space as need for plants i went with semi dwarf to dwarfing rootstock with summer pruning to control size. I think its important to incorporate water if there is none near and wood / rock piles for habitat for predators. My assumption is you have more chill hours than you would think and like most people you may have things wake up to early, Disease resistance is probably the most important thing to look for in purchasing fruit as homegrown fruit is usually better period. I tried many apples that were supposedly the best eating but because they did not work for my climate i had a lot of losses and failures which allowed me to learn.

How important are apples, pears and peaches to you? They are extremely important to me so they were worth growing.

What about citrus? your close to alot of really hardy varieties but without late warmth many may not work for you unless you cover, shelter or greenhouse them.

Figs would be a real winner for you i feel

Mulberries are amazing very tasty and good to have around as a bait tree for birds / squirrels are no spray and can extend berry season. You probably need a named variety that tastes good many on the EC complain about the wild mulberries the ones here on the west (and mountains) are pretty good.

Raspberries and blackberries you should be able to find no spray easy to grow ones for your area as well.

Goumi is very good and is a nitrogen fixer for the ground and well behaved shrub for its family.

Jujubes are pretty amazing they are a summer pollinator and handle high temps well but you may need to find one that ripens early (in your heat window)

One thing to remember is the rootstock is far and above the most important thing, you can always regraft something later and i know its winter but getting a soil sample or an idea of what your soil consists of (clay loam etc) is important. Also its very good to see if water pools anywhere or if you have low spots that are flood plains, you will need to put different trees or roots that accept that there. Also good to see where the winter sun line is and if you can keep less hardy or early waking trees away from it that can be helpful. Do you know what your average frost dates are as well as something to set that by like different crab apple blooms or montmorency cherry blooms for the years, this can help in selecting varieties.

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I am west of you in the Piedmont region of Virginia and I am familiar (not an expert) on growing peaches in our area. The main differences between where you grow and the Piedmont region will be the soil and you are in a slightly warmer area where you can grow slightly lower chill variety peaches.

As far as peach varieties go I do not have enough experience to say with certainty which varieties do well in Virginia but these varieties are consistently recommended as having frost hardy buds - Veteran, Madison, Contender, Red Haven. Jefferson is recommended as cold hardy by the nurseries but nobody seems to grow it (I have one planted but not producing yet). Jefferson and Madison are from the old Virginia breeding program. You likely will have an issue with late frosts where you are at. I would not recommend Reliance based off of my experience. The closest commercial nursery that I am aware of to you is HollyBrook Orchards. They do not sell to individuals but if you e-mail them they will send you a list of local nurseries that sell there trees. Desiree, Elberta have done well fairly consistently for me so far - I had great tasting crop of Elegant Lady and Coral Star peaches last year, but only one year so far. Indian Cling, PF 13 Lucky Star, PF 24C and Intrepid did well also last year.

As far as spraying peaches goes you will need to spray in the fall/winter after dormancy for peach leaf curl and critters that overwinter in the bark. You can spray copper/with sticker or lime sulfur or both. In the spring prior to fruit set you will need to spray with immunox and captan for fungicide protection - follow the labels religiously as to when to spray. Immunox and captan can be mixed together. Immediately after petal fall occurs you will need to start spraying permethrin for plum curcilio, again follow the label religiously PC can destroy a crop in a few days if not sprayed. Permethrin can be mixed with Captan and Immunox when spraying (Again only use permethrin after petal fall). This is my basic spray schedule. Contrary to what you will read on some of the insecticides labels at Lowes/Home Depot permethrin is the only effective insecticide against plum curculio available to backyard growers.

What my schedule does not protect against (after spraying for plum curculio) - stink bugs, wasps/yellow jackets, oriental fruit moths and peach tree borers. Stink bugs, wasps/yellow jackets and oriental fruit months have not been a major problem for me so I just share my fruit with them - its not worth the late spraying. It is very possible your experience may be different. Peach tree borers are a real threat - they damage the base of the tree not the fruit. I have not found an effective way to spray for them. I have to manually cut/dig peach tree borers out.

Below are links to the products that I use -

Permethrin -

  • This Bonide permethrin is the only permethrin that is labeled for the backyard grower that I can find. 10% permethrin works the same.

I use NuFilm sticker but cannot find a link to it …

If you search the forums there is a guide that will show the you the right per gallon concentration mix for the copper, sticker and captan. My spray recommendations are not meant to be all inclusive and you will likely need to tweak for your area but this should provide a spray program foundation to get started in Virginia.

Below is link to HollybrookOrchards:

Stranges is a big nursery in Richmond:

Hope this helps.


Check out my post below. Its not completely applicable to you because 8a will likely allow you to more easily grow slightly more cold sensitive fruit (like figs), but its a good start.

The low temp for 8a is 10F. You need to keep that in mind. Probably record lows are even lower. It is the lo temperature you need to pick stuff that can handle it with ease.

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No edible citrus can survive 10F.

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Hi Christina! I live in Chesapeake - not far from you. I have tried to grow many different fruits. In my experience, blueberries do very well here . . . if you find the right variety. Apples are tough. Pears seem to fare well . . . also, plums and peaches, if you can control the bugs and diseases. The humidity is a big problem.

I am experimenting with pomegranates - and have about 15 different varieties. Most of these are still young - and only survived one full winter in the ground. So no great success report yet!

We also have a few apple trees, peaches and nectarines and plums. I don’t seem to be able to get any decent fruit without spraying. But, others on this forum might have other results. And, there is at least one member, ‘Ann’, who lives in Gloucester, I believe.

Welcome to the Fruit Forum! - Karen


Kumquats are inedible?

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IMO If you want no-spray, almost carefree after first year: figs, pawpaw, persimmon.

Next level up in care and trouble: pear

Even more difficult: apple

Even more difficult: peach, cherry, plum


That seems to be the consensus. I didn’t have a choice in moving to this area. I would prefer to live out west but here we are. I hope to find some ‘Deep South’ apples and see what I can do with that.

hello! I am hoping to get a high tunnel to protect some of the things I am growing from bugs and frost or hurricanes! I am pretty lonely here in my passion for growing. Someone in Gloucester is letting me grow food on his 5 acres. lots and lots of work I can’t wait to accomplish. :slight_smile: I would love to sample your pomegranates if they do well this year.
I also ready about an avocado that can handle frosts (25F) from the mountains of Mexico.

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