What fruit to grow next in Mid-Atlantic?

The most common fruit I am attempting to grow are pears. I’ve been put off from growing the other common fruits - apples peaches, plums, etc. based on reading that they are so difficult to grow here (zone 7a, central Virginia). I’ve been reading the recent posts on plum and peach harvests and I’m wondering if it might be possible to grow these fruits especially if I make smart variety choices. I’m asking for opinions (or a pep talk) on whether to try these fruits, which might be easiest and any variety suggestions?

I’m in Richmond. Gooseberries and currants are just barely viable if you can shade them some. My blueberries do well enough.

My apples, cherries, and pluot trees grow and flower, but were too young for fruit.

Both figs fruited 1st year, but the one in the container rather struggled at the start.

The various kinds of bramble berries have varieties that do well, except seemingly my poor Jostaberry.

What’s your elevation? Mountain? Foothill? Piedmont? River holler? Coastal seaboard? Urban? Suburban? Rural? How much open acreage? Wooded? Shaded?

You can do apples, bloobs, rasps, peaches, blackberries, chestnuts, chinkapins, walnuts, hickories, pawpaws, and figs… and more… if you do your homework and pick the right varieties, rootstocks, and cultural practices. Even more possibilities if you’re willing to fool around with movable pots: eg. pomegranates.

Around here… so far… rasps, grapes, apples, and peaches have been the most rewarding plantings. That might change in the future: I suspect apples and peaches will become king, along with bloobs.

Here is my opinion on Peaches and Plums in Central Virginia. For peaches in the Lynchburg Virginia area you will face 4 challenges - poor soil (maybe), plum curculio and moth damage, fungus management and critter damage.

  1. Soil - In the Lynchburg Virginia area you usually have 3 inch to 18 inch max top layer of brown dirt then you hit red clay dirt. If the area you live in has been leveled to put a house in chances are you will be dealing with red clay dirt only. My experience is that you have to heavily amend the soil and/or use raised mounds (I use boxes). If you don’t you end up with stunted trees,

  2. Plum curculio insects damaged my entire peach crop this season causing premature drop on most of my peach crop. Read the threads but it sounds like you have to use pretty strong chemicals or Surround WP to stop pc. It will likely require frequent spraying with strong chemicals to control insects. Then you have to spray for the Japanese Beetles.

  3. Fungicides - you will need to spray at least 6 to 8 weeks starting near bloom. Nothing special just more spraying.

  4. What pc didn’t get the squirrels did. Cleaned my trees bare. So you have to stop the squirrels. Then there are the deer. Deer do not seem to like my peach trees - they will usually damage one limb (lightly) and they spit the peaches out. I have had one tree horned. Now I fence all of my trees when very young then switch to chicken wire around the base,

Plums - I gave up on plums for now as I thought the varieties I had bloomed to early and got frost damage. Edible Landscaping sells some American Plums that are supposedly late blooming. I have not tried these.

Long story short - I believe you can grow peaches in Central Virginia but it will be a lot of work - and you may need a chemistry degree to understand the pesticides to use.


Nice dose of reality @SpudDaddy. Think I’ll go back to gardening. :blush:


I’ve casually grown lots of stuff for many years. For the time and effort, nothing has come close to blueberries for me. Raspberries are a close second probably. Everything on an actual tree takes considerable time and effort. Stone fruits are for masochists…


Spuddady gave you a good honest dose of reality BUT it is very rewarding picking your own fruit. I’m fond of plum trees for several reasons; they grow fast, easy to graft, have beautiful blossoms in the spring, and a tree ripened plum is in a whole different category than store bought. I say give it a try. If you don’t like spraying and your neighbors don’t have fruit you can pick the fruit shortly after it blooms and break the life cycle on many of the pests and the following year raise a crop with no pest pressure.


Graftman has very valid points. I wasn’t trying to scare anyone away from growing fruit of any kind. For peaches it can be a lot of work in Central Virginia - which was my real point. Just for the record I gave up growing fruit trees years ago due to bad experiences with store bought apple and cherry trees and some very cheap mail order trees. I got hooked again because I bought a Dave Wilson peach tree and managed to get fruit without any spraying (it was pure luck). The few peaches I have gotten are 1000 times better than any grocery store bought peach.

I don’t have an exact count but I think I have around 20 peach trees planted now and more on the way. I haven’t let the effort required to grow peaches stop me. The biggest thing I struggle with is the spraying.

Couple other things - if I were going to pick a variety as easy to grow it would be Contender - it handles the frost well and is vigorous.

As far as fruit goes I find Asian Pears the easiest to grow - they require the least maintenance. Take that comment with a grain of salt as I only grow Peaches, Apples. and Asian Pears. I have some cherry trees but they were all planted this year so I can’t speak to cherry’s yet. One plum (had more) and one English pear tree.


You could grow persimmons. Easy, delicious, and ornamental. What more could you want in a fruit tree?


I’m in zone 5a - 6a and the #1 fruit I wish I could grow is muscadines. You could probably grow them where you’re at with few problems. If you have room, I’d second the Asian pear recommendation. Put a fire blight resistant variety in and graft a few other varieties onto it. When they’re good, they’re really good. Otherwise at least they are crisp and juicy and fairly easy to grow.


ZTom- For a full year, my Fry Seedless Red have survived z6b (I got the transplants from Bob Vance in z6 CT). Rumor is Lane is another cold-hardy musc maybe worth trying.


@SpudDaddy I am also in Lynchburg! I have already gotten a good start on the “easier” fruits, with 5 or 6 persimmons, 3 pawpaws, 1 euro (Potomac) and 1 Asian (Shin Li) pear. I plan to add Korean Giant Asian and have Ayers and Harrow Delight grafted this year. I’ll also add 2 or 3 more Euro pears, I think. I’ve got a few black currants, one fig that finally started producing this year, Girardi mulberry, 3 muscadine vines and a Concord grape. I also want to add more figs especially if I can find some that will produce figs after freezing to the ground as my Chicago Hardy did this year. I guess I was hoping to hear that peaches, apples or plums weren’t too difficult (I know, that’s relative) here, especially after seeing the peach and plum threads where so many people are having such success. I already plan to use Surround quite a bit and used it some this year to deter Japanese beetles. They have been quite a nuisance on the persimmons and I definitely have to control them or they will defoliate the trees. They have just about wiped out my small Nanking cherry bushes this year.

@PatapscoMike, I have some blueberries planted, but they aren’t doing as well as they should. I have them planted very close to the woods and I think they may be receiving some insect pressure from that. I see a lot of leaves getting plastered together by some insect. I haven’t tried rabbiteyes that should grow very well hear and I admit that some of they southern highbush I’ve planted aren’t included in the lists of the more forgiving blueberries.

@Graftman, growing plums would be wonderful. I tasted a ripe Methley (which most here don’t seem to care for) at Edible Landscaping that I thought was the best plum I’d ever eaten.

Contender sounds like a good peach to start with if I get up the nerve.

@Matt_in_Maryland, I am in the Piedmont of VA, 813 ft above sea level on a 5 acre lot about half clear and half wooded with a lot of sun/southern exposure. I just found some hickory trees in my wooded area, so have been doing a little foraging on those recently. Are you following a spray schedule for your apples, peaches and pears? From what I’ve read, you don’t live at your mountain orchard, so I’m sure it is difficult to follow a schedule.

Hi Irby - Great to hear you are in Lynchburg. Which Persimmons would you recommend - I plan to plant a couple next year, have not started to look at the varieties. How is the Potomac pear doing - would you recommend that variety? The Japanese beetles are horrible where I live - I used Permethrin this year but would like to try surround next year. They will defoliate a cherry tree in a couple of days at the start of the beetle season.

No schedule. Minimal sprays- just neem and sulfur on trouble-spots. That might change in the future. The mountain planting is only 4 years in.

1 Like

Matt -
Is Neem your only insecticide?!?! And can you get away without using Captan and others for rots, etc??!?!

I’m not far from you and I have to rely on an arsenal of stuff…at least I think I do!

Saijo has handled our winters better and grows vigorously. I have tasted it at Edible Landscaping and it s good. I am growing Tam Kam and Ichi as non-astringents. Honestly I don’t expect much difference in taste. From what I understand and have experienced they are all very similar. Astringents can be a little different, but not much unless you get into varieties like Chocolate which may be a zone stretch. Tam Kam and Nikita’s Gift lost their secondary branches after their first winter, but survived and regrew. They made it through last winter fine. Saijo was fine both winters. I have tasted Nikita’s Gift and think it is as good or better than the other Asian astringents I’ve tried. I also like Smith’s Best (Giboshi) more than most. I planted Rosseyanka last year but the graft died. I want to try it again because it is supposed to taste more like a native and they are supposed to hang onto the tree into December. I would also plant at least one native because they can have a more interesting flavor. I planted Prok because it is large and recommended although I haven’t tasted it. I would recommend going to Edible Landscaping in October. You will be able to taste many varieties!

1 Like

I just planted Potomac last year. It hasn’t looked too happy this year…looks like it could use some nitrogen. I’m going to see how she looks after she wakes up next year before deciding to fertilize. You don’t hear about many people fruiting it, but what I’ve read is good.

Japanese beetles are terrible here also. I tried Surround later in the season after removing some physical barriers and it seemed to work well. I plan to start spraying it around June 1 next year as my main deterrent. I put down milky spore last fall, but didn’t see any difference…they were probably worse this year. Our mild winter didn’t help, I’m sure. Maybe I’ll notice some help from the milky spore next year. They are very frustrating!

Pomegranates. I just started a new Topic this morning about our success with Pomegranates in Chesapeake VA, near VA Beach. They do surprisingly well! Just need to make sure that they are pruned ‘openly’ and get air movement. Funguses can be an issue if they get ‘stuffy’. The Russian varieties do well with the cooler weather . . . so in the U.S. “Poms are not just for CA and Arizona anymore!” Check out JustFruitsAndExotics . . . or several other sites which offer lots of info about each variety they ship. If you like pomegranates, they are so much fun to grow! And such a novelty!

Kiki do you grow them in pots or in the ground? I have been getting too much dieback with my in-ground poms. I am a bit colder than you, maybe a zone, and that could be a reason.

1 Like