If you are a Massachusetts gardener, fruit trees can make a great addition to your yard. Before you choose fruit trees, it is important to find out which one are suited for growing in this climate.
So, what fruit trees grow in Massachusetts? Some of the best fruit trees to grow in Massachusetts are apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, and figs. You should choose dwarf varieties to save space and get fruit sooner after planting.
Of course, figs may need to come indoors for a few months during the winter, so grow them in a container that you can move easily.
There are a few important factors to consider when choosing a fruit tree.
For example, some fruit trees require another tree of the same type nearby in order to produce fruit. You might also want to consider dwarf varieties if you don’t have much space in your yard.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the types of fruit trees you can grow in Massachusetts and what to consider before making your choice.
What Fruit Trees Grow In Massachusetts?
Some of the best fruit trees to grow in Massachusetts (Plant Hardiness Zones 5a to 7b) are:
To decide which type of fruit tree to grow, you should consider these important factors:
- when your tree will produce fruit (years to maturity and harvest window)
- the amount of fruit you will get from a tree (yield)
- the size of the tree and the space in your yard (dwarf, semi dwarf, or standard)
- whether you need two trees of the same type to produce fruit (some trees are self pollinating)
Let’s look at each of these factors in turn, starting with years to maturity.
When Do Fruit Trees Produce Fruit?
Most fruit trees take at least 2 or 3 years to mature fully, to the point where they can produce fruit. Dwarf varieties of some fruit trees mature sooner than standard varieties.
Planting dwarf fruit trees also makes it easier to harvest fruit, since the branches are closer to the ground.
Dwarf fruit trees produce fruit that is the same size as fruit from a standard size tree. However, dwarf varieties won’t grow as large as standard varieties, and they will not produce as much fruit.
Also, remember that many trees are 1 or 2 years old when transplanted. If you buy more mature fruit trees, then they may produce fruit sooner.
- Apples – apple trees will mature and start producing fruit 2 to 5 years after transplanting. Most apple trees will produce fruit that is ready for harvest sometime in August, September, or October.
- Pears – pear trees will mature and start producing fruit 4 to 6 years after transplanting. Most pear trees will produce fruit that is ready for harvest somewhere from mid-August to mid-October.
- Peaches – peach trees will mature and start producing fruit 2 to 4 years after transplanting. Most peach trees will produce fruit that is ready for harvest sometime in mid to late summer, between June and August.
- Plums – plum trees will mature and start producing fruit 3 to 6 years after transplanting. Most plum trees will produce fruit that is ready for harvest in summer, between June and September.
- Cherries – sweet cherry trees will mature and start producing fruit 4 to 7 years after transplanting, while sour cherry trees will mature and start producing fruit 3 to 5 years after planting. Some warmer climates, such as California, may see cherries ready for harvest as early as May. However, most cherry trees will not bear ripe fruit until June.
- Figs – fig trees will mature and start producing fruit 1 to 2 years after transplanting. Fig trees may start producing fruit as early in the year as May or June, and continue bearing fruit until the first fall frost in October or November).
The table below summarizes the years to first fruit and harvest months for fruit trees in Massachusetts.
|Fig||1-2||May or June|
harvest months for fruit trees in Massachusetts.
How Much Fruit Do Fruit Trees Produce?
The amount of fruit that a tree produces depends on the type of fruit, but also on the variety of tree (standard or dwarf).
- Apples – a standard variety apple tree will yield 4 to 5 bushels (192 to 240 pounds, or 87 to 109 kilograms) of apples per year. A dwarf variety apple tree will yield 1 to 2 bushels (48 to 96 pounds, or 22 to 44 kilograms) of apples per year. (A bushel of apples weighs 48 pounds).
- Pears – for European varieties, a standard pear tree will yield 4 to 6 bushels (200 to 300 pounds, or 91 to 136 kilograms), while a dwarf pear tree will yield 2 to 3 bushels (100 to 150 pounds, or 45 to 68 kilograms) of pears per year. For Asian varieties, a standard pear tree will yield 3 to 6 bushels (150 to 300 pounds, or 68 to 136 kilograms), while dwarf varieties will yield 1 to 3 bushels (50 to 150 pounds, or 23 to 68 kilograms) of pears per year.
- Peaches – a standard variety peach tree will yield 3 to 6 bushels (150 to 300 pounds, or 68 to 136 kilograms) of peaches per year. A dwarf variety peach tree will yield 1 to 3 bushels (50 to 100 pounds, or 23 to 45 kilograms) of peaches per year. (A bushel of peaches weighs 50 pounds).
- Plums – a standard variety plum tree will yield 2 to 4 bushels (100 to 224 pounds) for Japanese varieties or 3 to 6 bushels (150 to 336 pounds) for European varieties. A dwarf variety plum tree will yield 0.5 to 2 bushels (25 to 112 pounds) for Japanese varieties or 1 to 2 bushels (50 to 112 pounds) for European varieties. (A bushel of plums weighs 50 to 56 pounds).
- Cherries – sweet cherry trees will yield 30 to 50 quarts of cherries per year (15 to 20 quarts for dwarf sweet cherry trees). Sour cherry trees will yield 20 to 60 quarts of cherries per year (15 to 20 quarts for dwarf sour cherry trees).
- Figs – a young fig tree may only produce 20 to 60 figs (2.5 to 7.5 pounds) of figs per year. A larger, more mature tree can produce much more fruit. Some varieties of fig trees can produce two harvests in a year: a first crop (called the Breba crop) in the spring or summer, and a second crop in the fall.
For more information, check out this article on estimated fruit yields from the Stark Brothers website.
The table below summarizes the fruit yield for standard and dwarf fruit trees in Massachusetts.
|Fig||6 (young)||3 (young)|
standard and dwarf fruit trees in Massachusetts.
How Tall Do Fruit Trees Grow?
The height of a fruit tree depends on a few factors:
- the age of the tree
- the type of fruit tree
- the size of the variety (standard, semi-dwarf, or dwarf)
- Apples – standard varieties of apple trees will grow to a height of 18 to 25 feet tall, with a similar width. Semi-dwarf apple trees will grow to a height of 15 to 18 feet, with a similar width. Dwarf apple trees will only grow to a height of 8 to 10 feet tall, with a similar width.
- Pears – standard varieties of pear trees will reach a height of 18 to 20 feet and a width of 12 to 13 feet. Dwarf pear trees will reach a height of 8 to 10 feet and a width of 6 to 7 feet wide.
- Peaches – a bit shorter than the others, standard varieties of peach trees will reach a height of 12 to 15 feet.
- Plums – standard varieties of plum trees will reach a height of 18 to 20 feet and a width of 18 to 20 feet. Dwarf plum trees will reach a height of 8 to 10 feet and a width of 8 to 10 feet.
- Cherries – standard varieties of cherry trees will reach a height of 18 feet or more. Semi-dwarf cherry trees will reach a height of 15 to 18 feet. Dwarf cherry trees will grow to a height of 8 to 10 feet tall, with a similar width.
- Figs – fig trees can quickly grow to a height of 10 to 15 feet tall, with a similar width.
The table below summarizes the height and width for standard and dwarf fruit trees in Massachusetts. Note:
- st = standard
- sd = semi dwarf
- dw = dwarf
standard and dwarf fruit trees in Massachusetts.
Most trees can be trained to stay shorter with pruning. You can also grow some trees, such as apples or pears, along the side of your house, espalier-style.
Do You Need Two Fruit Trees To Produce Fruit?
This depends on the tree and whether it is self-pollinating or not. A fruit tree is self-pollinating (or self-fruitful) if its flowers contain both male and female parts.
Otherwise, the tree is self-unfruitful, and it will require cross pollination to produce fruit. This means that you need at least two trees, usually of different varieties, in order to successfully cross pollinate your trees and produce fruit.
Note that you can still plant two or more of a type of fruit tree, even if it does not need other trees for pollination. In some cases, this will increase the harvest of the trees.
Let’s look at whether each of our tree choices is self-pollinating or not.
- Apples – usually, you will need two apple trees, each of a different variety, to produce fruit. Two apple trees from the same variety cannot cross pollinate each other, so be sure to buy two different varieties! There are some self-pollinating apple tree varieties, but even these will produce more fruit when cross-pollinated with other apple trees.
- Pears – usually, you will need two pear trees, each of a different variety, to produce fruit. Two pear trees from the same variety cannot cross-pollinate each other, so be sure to buy two different varieties! Of course, there are exceptions, such as the Colette Everbearing Pear from Stark Brothers, which is a self-pollinating pear tree.
- Peaches – you only need one peach tree to produce fruit, since they are self-pollinating.
- Plums – most plum trees are not self-pollinating, meaning you will need two trees of different types to produce fruit. However, some plum trees are self-pollinating, such as the Damson Plum from Stark Brothers.
- Cherries – you only need one sour cherry tree to produce fruit, since they are self-pollinating. However, you need two sweet cherry trees, each of a different variety, to produce fruit. There are exceptions to this: the sweet cherry tree varieties Stella, BlackGold, and WhiteGold are all self-pollinating.
- Figs – you only need one common fig tree to produce fruit, since they are self-pollinating. There are other varieties of fig trees that do require cross pollination, but most nurseries will only carry common fig trees.
The table below summarizes the pollination requirements for fruit trees in Massachusetts. Remember that there are some exceptions: for example, as mentioned earlier, some plum trees do not need another tree nearby to produce fruit.
|Apple||need 2 trees|
|Pear||need 2 trees|
|Peach||need 1 tree|
|Plum||need 2 trees|
|need 2 trees|
|need 1 tree|
|need 1 tree|
requirements for fruit trees in Massachusetts.
Remember that self-pollination does not mean guaranteed pollination. You can still see a lack of fruit, even with flowers, if there are not enough pollinators (bees, hummingbirds, etc.) in your yard.
You can use an electric toothbrush to provide the type of stimulation necessary, but this is a risky endeavor when climbing high up on trees!
For more information, check out this article on pollination of fruit trees from the University of Maine Extension.
Can Lemon Trees Grow In Massachusetts?
Lemon trees will not be able to grow outdoors in Massachusetts. Massachusetts faces cold winters, with some areas seeing temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit at least once a year.
According to Texas A&M University, lemon trees start to sustain damage when temperatures drop into the 20’s Fahrenheit. As such, lemon trees will not survive the winter in Massachusetts without protection.
A heated greenhouse might work, but it would be expensive to maintain. A better option is to consider a dwarf lemon tree (such as a Meyer Lemon tree) to grow indoors.
If you plant in a movable container, you could keep a lemon tree outside in the summer and bring it inside for the winter.
Can Avocado Trees Grow In Massachusetts?
Avocado trees will not survive outdoors in Massachusetts. Some avocado trees can withstand temperatures in the 20’s Fahrenheit, but this is not tough enough for Massachusetts.
As with lemons, your best bet for growing avocado trees in Massachusetts is to choose a dwarf variety, such as the Wurtz Avocado tree (also known as “Little Cado”).
Where Can I Learn More About Fruit Trees?
For more information on any of the fruit trees mentioned here, along with some interesting varieties of each tree, you can find links to other fruit tree articles below.
Now you have some good ideas for the types of fruit trees you can grow in your yard in Massachusetts. You also know what factors to consider before making your decision.
Since you live in Massachusetts, you know that we sometimes get a lot of snow all at once. As such, you might want to check out my article on how to protect trees and shrubs from heavy snow.
If you happen to be looking for a wedding venue (or know someone who is), check out this article on the best garden wedding venues in Massachusetts.
I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone else in Massachusetts who can use the information.