10 Best Types of Fruit Trees to Grow in Your Backyard

You don’t need to own a vast orchard or live in the South to grow gorgeous fruit trees.

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fruit tree in field
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Fruit Trees

Sure, you can walk into the grocery store and toss a bag of nectarines, avocados or Honeycrisp apples into your shopping cart. But wouldn’t it be better if you could walk out your back door and grab a few? A new book, Fruit Trees in Small Spaces by Colby Eierman, describes how to grow fruit trees, care for them and — most importantly — reap the rewards. Best of all, these trees won’t take over your yard. The dwarf options are endless, and some will even flourish in containers.

We’ve suggested one variety for each type of fruit tree. As with any new plant, make sure the one you choose works in your zone and growing conditions. Keep in mind some fruit trees, like apples, require two plants for cross pollination and fruit formation. Stop by your favorite nursery or local extension office to find out which varieties will do best.

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Grapefruit Tree

For grapefruit to reach the brilliant color we all look for, it needs intense summer heat. But color doesn’t determine ripeness. If a grapefruit feels heavy on the tree, pluck it off and give it a try.

Try this: The Rio Red bears sweet, seedless grapefruits that are ideal for juice. The dwarf form is perfect for a small space.

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apple tree
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Apple Tree

The variety of apple trees out there can be overwhelming, so find out what will work with your growing conditions. Look for disease-resistant types, because apple trees are susceptible to various ailments.

Try this: You can’t go wrong planting a Honeycrisp. Its sweet, crunchy, medium-size apples are perfect for eating right off the tree.

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Mandarin orange tree
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Mandarin Tree

Only gardeners in the far South can enjoy the fruit of a mandarin tree straight from the backyard. But if you’re in the right zone, they’re fairly easy to grow. A mandarin will require some pruning to shape it into a tree or shrub, but other than that, just enjoy!

Try this: Satsuma mandarin trees are a popular choice. They will produce large, sweet, easy-to-peel fruit.

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lime tree
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Lime Tree

Lime trees are sensitive to cold, so consider your climate before trying to grow one. Not only do these trees produce juicy fruit for cocktails and cooking, they have beautiful dark, glossy leaves.

Try this: Mexican limes, also known as key limes, are more suitable for warm climates. They’re upright trees that will grow up to 15 feet tall.

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apporcoit tree
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Apricot Tree

Northern gardeners, this one’s for you! Apricot trees tolerate cold temperatures, but be careful. Because of early flowering, late frost can sometimes take its toll on trees. The fruit is delicate, so growing your own ensures you’ll get high-quality, unblemished apricots.

Try this: If you’re looking for a sweet apricot, give Goldcot a try. It ripens midseason and is good for colder climates.

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pear tree
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Pear Tree

When it comes to pear trees, you’ve got a choice — ­European or Asian. It all depends on your taste. The European pear tree is a real showstopper in the garden with soft fruit, while the Asian variety is crisp and juicy like an apple.

Try this: Moonglow, a European variety, is a strong grower with flavorful fruit, but it needs to be planted with a pollinator.

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quince tree
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Quince Tree

You might be familiar with the flowering quince, but did you know you can eat the fruit? A close relative to the flowering quince, the edible quince is excellent for jams, jellies and preserves. In general, quinces aren’t enjoyable right off the tree.

Try this: It’s not a shock that the Pineapple quince variety has a hint of pineapple when cooked. Be sure to let quinces ripen fully on the tree before picking. Do you like homegrown plants? Check out these tips on how to grow a pineapple plant at home.

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orange tree
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Orange Tree

Did you know oranges can stay on the tree for months before you need to pick them? In some cases this even makes the fruit sweeter. If you live in the North, look for dwarf varieties that you can plant in a pot and take indoors for winter.

Try this: The Trovita orange tree produces sweet fruit with outstanding flavor. A versatile grower, it’s good for cooler climates but will also tolerate desert heat.

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plum tree
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Plum Tree

Plum trees are versatile, slower growers, so pruning is easy. They can handle drought, but watch out for pest problems. When buying a plum tree, make sure it’s the fruiting kind, not the flowering kind.

Try this: The Methley variety has purplish-red skin and a sweet taste. It ripens earlier than other varieties, so you can enjoy the plums early in the season. And it’s pest-resistant.

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nectarine tree
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Nectarine Tree

Nectarines are essentially peaches without the fuzz, and both types of trees require a lot of pruning, fertilizing, thinning and watering. But the flavor and juiciness of the homegrown fruit will make it all worthwhile.

Try this: The super-sweet Fantasia nectarine reaches peak ripeness in midseason. This variety doesn’t require as much chilling as other nectarine trees, but it will still do fine in colder regions.