Aww, fruit trees! It’s been said that the best time to plant a fruit tree is yesterday – because they take so long to produce. And while it’s true that you won’t get fruit the first year you plant a fruit tree it doesn’t have to take years and years to get fruit either. There are some fast growing fruit trees.
Let’s start off with talking about whether you should grow fruit trees from seeds or from a grafted tree. If you plant a grafted tree (one you bought from a nursery or that someone grafted for you) you will get fruit earlier than if you grow the tree from seed. This applies to all fruit trees. Some people will argue that fruit trees that are grown from seed won’t produce fruit that tastes like the original fruit. This isn’t always the case. Some fruit, like most citrus, will grow true to the mother plant – it just takes 8-10 years before they will produce fruit. If you have space, it’s great to grow some trees from seed, just know that it will take much longer to get fruit. Attainable-Sustainable some great tips on starting nectarines from seed.
But if you want fruit quickly, and I’m assuming you do, you should plant grafted trees. Also, you count how old a grafted tree is by counting from the time you plant it in the ground (or into a large container), not from the time it was grafted.
Mulberries will produce within one year of planting a grafted tree and they grow tall super fast (over 2.5′ a year). We actually have one that came up as a volunteer from our neighbor’s tree and it produced a few berries the second year. I’ve read it takes 10 years to get mulberries from a tree that’s been started from seed but this one produced in year two. It’s in year three right now and it about 12′ tall. Mulberries get a bad rap because they aren’t plump and juicy like other berries but they are the first berries to produce around here and we love having them. We eat them raw and add them to yogurt, pancakes and smoothies.
Peaches and nectarines
I know peaches and nectarines are not the same fruit, but they are really close and have similar growing needs. They especially don’t like soggy roots so make sure you plant them in an area that has good drainage. It also takes two trees to produce fruit. Make sure you get two different varieties that bloom at the same time so they can cross pollinate. Most peaches and nectarines will fruit in under three years – but you have to take care of them.
Ok, I know not everyone can grow citrus in their backyard but did you know that some citrus like Meyer lemons and Satsuma oranges can be grown indoors? They can, so I think they deserve thoughtful consideration. Citrus trees are self pollinating so you only need one tree to produce fruit. Also, they will start producing fruit the year after they are planted. If you need some tips for growing citrus, you’ll find them here.
Apples need some cold weather, also known as chill-hours. Like peaches, apples really need another apple tree to cross pollinate. Otherwise we’ll end up with a nice tree but no apples. Those of you who have nice cold winters probably don’t need to know that bit of information, but those of us who live in milder climate have to make sure we plant varieties that need low chill hours. And that’s no fun, especially if we are thinking we’ll be munching on apples in under three years.
Figs are another fruit tree that likes warm weather, so if you plant one and live where it gets cold you might want to do it in a container. Figs only need one tree to produce and you will probably get fruit in year two. Figs are self fertile, in fact they don’t even flower; they just make fruit.
Bananas are another “tree” that needs warm weather but if you can provide it, you can have bananas in about two years. We have a friend who is overrun with banana trees and has offered us some. They propagate through their root system and need to be dug up and separated occasionally to keep them from taking over. Edited to add: A reader pointed out that bananas trees are not actually trees but are the world’s largest perennial herb. That might be why they grow so fast!
This little known tree is a powerhouse of nutrients. It likes warm climates but can be grown in containers and brought in during the winter. It can also be grown as an annual instead of a tree. The leaves, seed pods and beans are edible. We eat the leaves in soups and smoothies. I also make a tea blend with dehydrated leaves. The pods can be cooked like green beans. Moringa is super fast growing, like 15-20 feet in one season. We’ve been growing it for almost two years and it has been a blessing to us.
Of course there are many other fruit trees that are absolutely worth planting but they take three or more years to actually produce fruit. When you’re planning your fruit plantings make sure you include some of these early producers which will help the wait go by sooner. Also make sure you’re making notes in you’re gardening notebook while you are doing your research and making plans this winter.
What trees are you planting this spring?