There’s nothing quite like having your own fruit trees. Picture it: you stroll out your back door one morning, coffee cup in hand, and pluck a fresh apple or pear off the tree as dressing for your breakfast.
Maybe you do this every day and, a few weeks later, you harvest the excess fruit – fruit trees can produce quite a lot of it. You put this in cans for later use, make your own jelly, or even sell it.
There really are a lot of perks that come with cultivating fruit trees! If you’re ready to give it a try, you’ve come to the right place. Below we’ll look at some of the trees that grow best in New York but, first – whenever you’re considering planting anything – it’s important to understand hardiness zones.
Fruit Trees that Grow in NY: USDA Hardiness zones explained
Naturally, the types of fruit trees you can grow depends on where you live – climate is one of the most important factors in ensuring a plant thrives. Fortunately, the USDA has made it simple to know what you can grow by dividing the country up into “hardiness zones.”
Basically, this metric just shows how cold each area gets in the winter. 1 is the coldest (think Alaska) and 13 (Hawaii) is the warmest. New York state includes a range of hardiness zones from 3 to 7. Long Island, for instance, is typically zone 7. Upstate New York is mostly zones 5 and 6.
Why is this information important? Well, if citrus trees grow best in zones 9 and 10, you’d only want to grow one in New York if you can bring it inside during the winter. Otherwise, it will die – it isn’t as “hardy” as, say, an apple.
Fruit Trees that Grow in NY
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, on to the fruit trees you can grow in New York!
The classic apple tree is a staple of New York. This plant is very good at surviving the state’s cold winters, and they’ll bloom in spring regardless of temperature.
Apple trees are a good choice for those who are planting their first fruit tree. That’s because they’re easy to maintain – you won’t need to water them (just an inch of rain each week is enough for apple trees) or prune them.
However, make sure you plant your tree in a spot that receives 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.
The only potential drawback of apples trees is that they are not self-pollinating. This means that, in order for them to bear fruit, you’ll have to plant a different cultivar within at least 2,000 feet. So, apple trees are best if you have a somewhat spacious backyard.
People usually associate peaches with warmer climates, so this one may surprise you. This so-called “stone fruit” is actually very resilient.
It’s true you’ll want to opt for “cold-hardy” peaches if you live in upstate New York. The Snow Beauty and White Lady varieties work well in Zone 5, while the Contender and Reliance types can grow as far north as Canada. On Long Island, since it’s a bit warmer, you’ll do fine with most types of peaches.
Peach trees prefer loamy soil and, like apple trees, don’t require much water beyond what’s provided by rainfall. Ideally, you should plant them in an area that receives sunlight all day long. You’ll also want to fertilize them in early spring with a slow-release fertilizer.
Fruit Trees that Grow in NY: Plum
Have a smaller backyard? If so, plum trees are a great choice since they don’t grow quite as large as apple or peach trees.
Plum trees do generally require a warmer climate, however, so they’re a better option for the southern regions of New York. If you do live far in the north, there are hardy varieties such as Alderman or Superior.
Water your newly planted plum tree at least once a week, and water deeply. Make sure you plant them in an area where the soil is well-draining – they don’t do well with too much wetness.
Plum trees require at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. European plums are self-pollinating, whereas Asian and American varieties do usually require a second cultivar to produce.
Just like apples, pears are very resistant to even some of the coldest temperatures in New York. They do well in sweltering temperatures, too.
Most pear trees are not self-pollinating, however. This means you’ll need to plant two types of pear trees next to each other (space them at least 20 feet apart) so that they can cross-pollinate and actually produce the fruit you’re looking for. Types that are self-pollinating include the Concorde and Conference varieties.
Water your pear tree at least twice a week as the roots are being established if you have light soil. Clay soil holds water better and so requires less frequent watering.
Choose a spot out of the shade for planting, as pear trees require 6 to 8 hours of sun each day.
Sweet and sour cherries are perfect for New York – they thrive in zones 5, 6, and 7. If you live in a colder clime such as zone 4, you’ll want to go for certain sour varieties such as Montmorency or Morello.
Cherry tree roots need a lot of room to grow. For sweet cherries, space them at least 35 feet apart from each other. For sour cherries, space them at least 20 feet apart.
When growing, they are very water hungry. For the first week you should water them every other day. In the second week you should water them two to three times, and after that once a week.
Water deeply, until the surface of the soil has a bit of standing water. This means the roots can’t take in any more, and we want them to be fully satisfied.
Cherry trees need about 8 eight hours of sunlight each day, so keep this in mind when choosing a planting location.
They require fertilizer – a thin layer of compost should do fine – and need to be pruned during the winter.
Overall they’re probably the most difficult type of tree on this list, so we don’t recommend them for beginners. Once you get the hang of things, though, you’ll be on the way to impressing with your own homemade cherry pie!
Fruit Trees that Grow in NY: Final thoughts
New York is an ideal spot for many types of fruit trees – the above are just some of the more popular species.
Whichever type of tree you decide to go with, make sure you do your research before planting! Ensure you’ll be able to care for the tree – understand each type’s soil, water, and fertilizer requirements. Doing extensive research will save you headaches later on.
Before you know it, you’ll be walking outside and picking your fruit tree, proud that you finally made your vision a reality.