Zone 4 nut trees

Zone 4 Nut Trees – Tips On Growing Nut Trees In Zone 4

Nut trees are magnificent, multipurpose trees that provide shade on the hottest days and brighten the environment with bright color in autumn. Of course, that’s a bonus to their primary purpose – providing bushels of flavorful, nutritious nuts. If you’re gardening in zone 4, one of the coolest northern climates, you’re in luck as there’s no shortage of hardy nut trees that grow in zone 4 gardens. Read on to learn about some of the best zone 4 nut trees, and a few helpful tips for growing them.

Growing Nut Trees in Zone 4

Growing nut trees requires patience, as many are slow to produce nuts. Walnutand chestnut, for example, eventually turn into majestic specimens, but depending on the variety, they may take up to 10 years to bear fruit. On the other hand, some nut trees, including hazelnuts(filberts), may produce nuts within three to five years.

Nut trees aren’t terribly fussy, but all require plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil.

Selecting Nut Trees for Zone 4

Here are some common cold hardy nut trees for zone 4 climates.

English walnut (Carpathian walnut): Large trees with attractive bark that lightens with maturity.

Northern pecan (Carya illinoensis): A tall shade producer with large, tasty nuts. Although this pecanmay be self-pollinating, it helps to plant another tree nearby.

King nut hickory (Carya laciniosa ‘Kingnut’): This hickory tree is highly ornamental with textural, shaggy bark. The nuts, as the name indicates, are super-size.

Hazelnut/filbert (Corylus spp.): This tree provides great winter interest with bright reddish-orange foliage. Hazelnut trees usually produces nuts within about three years.

Black walnut (Juglans nigra): A popular, show-growing tree, black walnut eventually reaches heights of up to 100 feet. Plant another tree nearby to provide pollination. (Keep in mind that black walnut exudes a chemical known as juglone, which may adversely affect other edible plants and trees.)

Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima): This highly ornamental tree provides good shade and fragrant blossoms. The sweet nuts of Chinese chestnut trees may be best roasted or raw, depending on the variety.

American chestnut (Castanea dentata): Native to North America, American chestnut is a very large, tall tree with sweet, flavorful nuts. Plant at least two trees in fairly close proximity.

Buartnut: This cross between heartnutand butternutproduces abundant harvest of tasty nuts and moderate levels of shade.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba): An attractive nut tree, ginkgodisplays fan-shaped leaves and pale grey bark. Foliage is an attractive yellow in autumn. Note: Ginkgo is not regulated by the FDA and is listed as an herbal product. The fresh or roasted seeds/nuts contain a toxic chemical which can result in seizures or even death. Unless under the watchful eye of a professional herbalist, this tree is best used for ornamental purposes only.

Hardy Fruit Trees Nursery

Nut tree

From walnut to hazel, each nut tree is grown from a hardy Canadian source nut.

Most nut trees prefer a rich, deep and well drained soil. Be aware that the hardiness zone we present for each nut tree is true only for the trees you buy here. The seedlings that we produce have shown hardiness in our climate. This is not true for all nut trees. For example, if you buy a black walnut grown with seeds produced in USA, you risk that your walnut will be frozen next winter. Know what nut tree you buy, where it comes from, and how it has been selected.

  • Korean Pine – Pinus koraiensis – A must for cold climate

    The Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) is a winterproof nut tree that grows well in acidic soils and can withstand cold climate (zone 2). Its nut is used in salads and to make pesto sauce.

    Size Price
    4-6 Inches $15.00
    10 X 4-6 Inches $120.00

    Details >>

  • Buartnut – A Fast Growing Hybrid Walnut Tree

    The Buartnut (Juglans cinerea x Juglans spp.) is a vigorous and fast growing walnut tree. It is disesase resistant and very productive.

    Size Price
    2-3 Feet $20.00
    3-5 Feet $25.00
    10 X 3-5 Feet $200.00

    Details >>

  • Butternut – Juglans cinerea – A native nut tree from Canada

    The Butternut (Juglans cinerea) is also called white walnut. It’s the most cold resistant of all walnut trees.

    Size Price
    2-3 Feet $20.00
    3-5 Feet $25.00
    10 x 2-3 Feet $150.00

    Details >>

  • Black Walnut – Juglans nigra – An investment for the future

    The Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) is a fast growing nut tree. It is also our most precious North American hardwood and is a real financial investment.

    Size Price
    100 x 2-3 Feet $1200.00
    10 x 3-5 Feet $200.00
    2-3 Feet $20.00

    Details >>

  • Beaked Hazel – Corylus Cornuta – A shrub for the North

    Hazel shrub in the North? Yes, Hazel in the North! The beaked hazel is a nut shrub that prefers sun but can tolerate some shade.

    Size Price
    1-3 Feet $20.00

    Details >>

  • Hazelbert – A cross between Hazel – Corylus americana – and Filbert – Corylus avellana – Zone 3

    The Hazelbert is a bush hardy to zone 3 producing big hazelnuts double the size of our native Beaked Hazel. Always requires 2 for pollination.

    Size Price
    1-3 Feet $20.00
    10 x 1-3 Feet $150.00
    100 x 1-3 Feet $1200.00

    Details >>

  • Shagbark Hickory – Carya ovata – A rare tree tasting like pecan

    The Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) is well known for its use in smoking, but it also produces delightful nuts tasting somewhat like pecans.

    Size Price
    6-12 Inches $20.00
    1-2 Feet $25.00

    Details >>

  • White oak – Quercus alba – A Rare and Endangered Native Tree

    Native to North America, the White Oak (Quercus alba) is a huge and noble hardwood tree that produces edible sweet acorns. This species is rare and endangered in Canada.

    Size Price
    1-3 Feet $20.00
    6-12 Inches $10.00

    Details >>

  • Impressive Quality Hazelnut – Zone 5

    This hazelnut bush is very similar to our zone 3 hazelbert, but its nuts are of much bigger size. If you live in zone 5 or warmer, you need to have this hazelnut bush at home.

    Size Price

    Details >>

  • Bur Oak – Quercus macrocarpa – Zone 3

    Bur oak is a large deciduous tree native to Canada and the US. It is an extremely versatile tree and produces the largest and some of the mildest acorns of all the oaks.

    Size Price
    2-3 Feet $20.00
    10 x 2-3 Feet $150.00
    3-5 Feet $25.00

    Details >>

  • American Chestnut – Castanea dentata – Zone 4

    Sorry. Unavailable for spring 2020.

    Size Price

    Details >>

King Nut recalls salmonella-tainted peanut butter

CHICAGO (Reuters) – An Ohio-based food distributor has voluntarily recalled two brands of peanut butter after it was told salmonella found in an open five-pound tub sold under the King Nut label.

King Nut Cos, in a statement released Saturday, said it immediately contacted its customers and asked them to remove all King Nut peanut butter and Parnell’s Pride peanut butter from the market.

The Solon, Ohio-based King Nut supplies peanut butter to food service companies that distribute the products to institutions like hospitals, schools, restaurants and nursing homes. The brands are not sold directly to consumers.

King Nut said it asked customers to stop distributing all peanut butter with lot codes beginning with the number eight and has canceled orders with the manufacturer, Peanut Corporation of America.

Officials for Peanut Corporation of America, based in Lynchburg, Virginia, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Martin Kanan, King Nut’s chief executive, said, “because we don’t manufacture peanut butter, we will do what we can to get this product out of distribution and will work with the manufacturer to inform others of this problem.”

On Friday, Minnesota health officials issued a product alert for King Nut brand creamy peanut butter after finding a jar that was contaminated with a strain of salmonella linked to an outbreak across the United States.

Since September, the outbreak of salmonella food poisoning has sickened at least 399 people in 42 states and sent at least 70 people to the hospital, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC, Agriculture Department, Food and Drug Administration and state health officials are trying to trace the source of the outbreak.

An outbreak of salmonella was linked to Peter Pan brand peanut butter in 2007. ConAgra Foods Inc closed a Georgia plant after more than 300 people became ill in that outbreak.

Reporting by Susan Kelly

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

8 nut trees that are good to grow in New Zealand

In our fast food world, growing your own nuts is a long-term plan, but these trees don’t need a lot of attention and having your own fresh, free nut supply is definitely worth a few years of waiting.

Words: Sheryn Clothier

One of the benefits of owning a bit of land is having the space to grow large or multiple trees, which means we can grow our own nuts.

Home-grown nuts have a flavour of their own. When you harvest a fresh hazel, it’s nothing like what you can buy in a supermarket.

If you don’t believe in the superior taste, see if you can source some New Zealand nuts from your local farmers’ market or order some online. The freshness takes nuts from an ok food into the scrumptious category. Then, imagine having your own maintenance-free and dollar-free supply falling annually in the far paddock.

The sooner you plant, the sooner you will reap the benefits. Nut trees take 3-10 years to start producing, but once they do, they continue supplying a tasty, healthy crop for decades with very little maintenance. We’re very lucky that New Zealand is still free of most of the pests and diseases that affect many nuts trees in the rest of the world.

The trees themselves can be multi-purpose, serving as stock shelter, animal fodder, timber, windbreaks or riparian plants. Since nuts fall to the ground, the trees can be pruned up high above stock or vehicle height. Just give consideration to collecting the nuts in autumn and ensure that the ground below is suitable.

1. Chestnuts

The chestnut is well suited to New Zealand’s temperate climate and grows incredibly easily into a large, beautiful tree. We are lucky not to have blight and other diseases which affect it in other countries so it is pretty much maintenance-free. Prune off low branches to form a lovely shade tree, or alternatively chestnuts can be coppiced and used for fence posts as the timber is rot-resistant.

Don’t plant over an access way or well-frequented area as the nuts fall with a prickly burr (outside shell). Choose a site with good drainage too as chestnut trees can suffer from phytophthora (root rot) if grown in waterlogged soil.

They are large, long-lived trees that are a great shade and fodder option for stock. I have seen a flock of sheep enjoying the nuts and the nutshell, and the bark and leaves all contain tannins beneficial to all animals, especially alpacas.

Some varieties are sold as self-fertile but you will increase your production substantially if you plant a second tree of a different variety as a pollinator. They are wind-pollinated and at Christmas time have attractive long catkins releasing the male pollen. Trees take about four years to start producing.

I harvest with sturdy boots and a pair of kitchen tongs. The nuts are dried for a couple of days to increase sweetness, boiled, halved, scooped out and frozen. If you want to roast them in their shells, it’s important to pierce the skin to prevent them exploding during cooking.

Chestnuts have a low oil content compared to other nuts so can be slightly dry.

2. Walnuts

Walnuts are also large, easy-care and long-lived trees. They suit most temperate climates except high humidity which can cause blight on the nuts.

They like any well-drained soil (24 hours of waterlogging can kill a tree) and are generally pretty hardy.
The downside is that the roots excrete a toxin called juglone which is poisonous to most plants, including grass. They make a wonderful shade tree but the juglone effect means they often overhang a mud patch in winter.

One tree produces enough for a family once it gets into full production, which can take 10 years for a seedling. A grafted tree will start to produce earlier but will cost more (grafting walnuts is a bit tricky). Some nitrogenous compost helps them to get established.

As well as the autumn crop, you can harvest the unripe nut, husk and all, at Christmas time to pickle them. Walnuts are great with cheese.

3. Pecans

These are the ultimate in large, long-lived nut trees. Pecans (Carya illinoinensis) can grow to 20m wide and live for 1000 years. They also make a fantastic riparian tree, liking the shelter of a valley, access to constant moisture and they even enjoying the occasional flood, although they won’t tolerate extended water-logging. Young trees are frost tender but are late to burst into leaf in spring and very cold-hardy once established.

In their native Mississippi, where there are thousands of pecan trees, there is all sorts of pollen floating around on the wind. Here in NZ, there are only small pockets of trees and nut production is less reliable. Planting a selection of compatible grafted varieties increases your chances of producing a crop, and the more trees you plant, the better your odds.

They like ample minerals but NZ soils have plenty of nitrogen for them – don’t give them compost or any nitrogen which will encourage fast growth that will then break off in a big wind, something NZ pecans are prone to do.

4. Hazels

Hazels weren’t something I ate until a friend gave me some. They were so good I planted 10 trees.
Once again, they are a wind-pollinated species so you need at least two varieties to cross-pollinate – I went with a range of varieties to maximise production.

They grow exceedingly well in the cooler parts of New Zealand and can be left to form a multi-stemmed shrub or pruned to a single trunk. Sheep will keep the side-shoots under control, but left to grow they can be turned into walking sticks. They were also once used for making sheep hurdles (moveable frames to create pens).

The trees grow to about 4m, and their stunning autumn colours make them a useful and attractive boundary tree. Seedlings are available impregnated with truffle spores and if you have the right conditions, you’ll get yields of both crops.

The nut itself is my favourite cooking nut, delicate and flavoursome, but having some sort of cracking machine is essential to processing them in quantity.

5. Macadamias

Macadamia trees are for those in frost-free zones. I have seen them growing commercially in Nelson and, after several attempts, I have established one in the Waikato, but they are an Australian sub-tropical rainforest plant and prefer warm, sheltered conditions.

Once again, planting different varieties will increase production, although macadamias are pollinated by insects. Proteas are said to be a beneficial companion plant for them and it’s a very attractive combination.

Varieties either drop or hold their nuts. Droppers are good if you have clean, dry ground underneath and collect the nuts regularly; otherwise go for ones you can pick.

Their evergreen foliage makes them a good screen and they can even be pruned into a hedge if desired. They can grow up to 10m tall, but are usually pruned to keep them within easy picking height.

Plant in spring, and harvest the nuts in early winter. Dehusk immediately and dry until you can hear the nut rattling in the shell when you drop it onto concrete.

6. Pine nuts

I enjoy cooking with pine nuts. I also enjoy the look of Pinus pinea, the pine tree that produces the pine cones that contain the nuts. But I don’t enjoy trying to extract the nuts from the pinecone, cracking their shell and separating the shell from the nut. This is a lot of work and kiwi DIYers have used everything from rotary hoes in a bucket to rolling pins and a towel.

However the tree is long-lived (150 years+) and very resilient, handling dry conditions, high winds and salt spray. This is an evergreen conifer, growing to about 12m. Again, it can be purchased infected with Bianchetto truffle spores so you can try for an underground crop as well.

In optimum conditions they should start bearing at about six years old (cones take three years to form) but my singular tree has been noticeably reluctant to produce. Even though they are theoretically self-fertile, I have recently planted a second tree to see if that stimulates production.

7. Almonds

Almonds are really the internal kernel of a variety of peach and are similar in growth habits to a peach except they need a second variety as a pollinator and live longer (about 70 years compared to the peach’s average of 10).

Humidity can cause the fungal diseases of leaf curl and brown rot (although they don’t seem as susceptible as most peaches) so in humid areas plant in a well-ventilated area or amongst your shelter belt.Like peaches, they prefer good, fertile soil and don’t like excessive dampness around their roots.

There is no reason why more almonds cannot be grown in New Zealand and trials are currently underway in the Wairarapa, Waikato and Nelson regions to identify superior varieties. Trees will grow up to about six metres, and they are the first in the orchard to welcome spring, putting on a display of blossom in early August.

8. Peanuts

A peanut is more pea than nut, and it doesn’t grow on a tree either.

The peanut plant is a 30-60cm high leafy annual best grown in the vegetable garden where it will fix nitrogen and send out a stem (called a peg) which needs a loose, well-drained soil to drill into to produce the seedpod.

They are commercially grown in Australia and will readily grow here in a hot summer. They need full sun and 4-5 months of high temperatures to mature. Simply soak a fresh peanut (you can use raw, husked peanuts from the bulk bin at the supermarket) for a couple of hours and plant it as soon as the frosts have finished.


If you eat nuts you are going to live longer and breed better.

Nuts contain a unique combination of healthy fats, plus a range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which reduce heart disease and Type 2 diabetes risks, lower cholesterol, and help to manage weight gain.

Research shows regular nut consumption (30g most days of the week) reduces mortality by 20%, and increases male fertility.


Shells make great kindling or mulch.

Nuts are ready in autumn and need to be collected daily as they drop. Leaving them on damp ground causes mould to grow, affecting storage and taste.

Spread nuts to dry in a shady but well-ventilated space – an old wire-weave bed frame is ideal.
Nuts can be stored in an airy, rat-proof container but can go rancid after a couple of months,
so the best way to keep them is to shell them and freeze the kernel to retain freshness.

The best home-made cracker I have seen is an attachment for a drill that is adjustable for a range of nuts. Google ‘drill cracker’. Shells make great kindling or mulch, and prickly chestnut burrs can be used to deter dogs from digging (and probably rabbits too).


PistachiosBrazil nutsCashew nuts

There are pistachio trees growing in the South Island, but it is hard to source any trees in NZ, and getting them to produce is harder still. Pistachio trees are dioecious so you need a male and female (they are wind-pollinated) and they like seriously cold winters and fairly serious hot summers.

Cashew trees grow in tropical climates. As far as I am aware, they are not available at all in NZ. Even if you could get one and grow it, removing the double shell and then the caustic liquid that surrounds it is quite an involved process – it’s much easier to grow and eat hazelnuts instead.

Brazil nuts need tropical heat, special pollinating insects, a lot of space (they grow to 50m) and 15 months to produce the coconut-sized fruit that contain between 10 and 25 nuts. If you want to harvest one you are going to have to travel to the Amazon rainforest, but don’t stand under a tree until the fruit has fallen – they can weigh up to 2.5kg.


  • Reserve trees from your local nursery or go online to order them now – the best varieties are often in limited supply.
  • Decide where you will plant what and get any fencing or stock exclusion organised.
  • Dig a large hole and optimise your soil conditions around the immediate root zone.
  • Be ready to plant your nut trees when the cool and regular rains of winter start (except for macadamias – plant them in spring).
  • Check for noxious weeds, prune off unwanted branches and give some fertiliser annually, then wait for your nuts.

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This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine. Discuss This Article

Buy Maine Shade Trees, Flowering Trees, Grape Vines, Nut Tree, Bamboo Plants, Fruit Tree and Berry Plants

You can order and purchase a few shade trees are cold hardy enough to plant in Maine zone 3, such as Weeping Willow tree, Green Ash tree and the Sassafras trees, that produces very fragrant leaves, twigs and roots. Discover the Corkscrew willow tree and several kinds of top Maple trees that are cold hardy enough to plant in Maine, along with several kinds of evergreen pine trees. Many trees like the Red Maple tree, the White Oak tree and the Ginkgo tree will grow in zone 4. In zone 5, shade trees such as the River Birch tree, Sycamore and the Flowering tree, Japanese pink Magnolia trees The Sassafras shade tree is also a yellow flowering tree with fragrant clusters. Other flowering ME trees are red and pink grafted white dogwood trees that are native to much of the United States, and the crabapple tree that also can produce edible fruits in the fall.

Cold Winters make cold hardiness in plants an important topic, when considering what fruit-trees nut trees or berry plants to grow and plant in Maine. Apple trees are the most successful cold hardy fruit tree that can be grown outside in orchards. Several apple tree cultivars, Lodi apple tree, Cortland and Granny Smith apple trees are often grown in pick-you-own fruit orchards. Sour Cherry Trees like the red Montmorency cherry trees and the red North Star cherry tree are cold hardy enough and can be grown there. Some home gardeners in Maine claim to be growing pear tree , peach tree, and nectarine trees, Native wild plum trees and native wildlife persimmon trees are being grown for wildlife deer and game birds on hunting clubs. The Chicago Hardy fig tree in Maine will grow with proper mulching and shelter.

Several nut trees are cold hardy enough to grow in Maine. The Chinese chestnut trees and the American chestnut trees produce chestnuts during the fall. The black walnut tree is a native tree to Maine along with the hickory tree, and the nut kernels of these trees are delicious to eat for humans and wildlife animals like deer, turkey and duck like to eat them. The black mulberry trees will grow in all climatic zones in Maine. The wildlife pear tree and the crabapple wild tree will grow in zone 4 and 5 of ME, and the black mulberry tree grows in all zones. The American native persimmon tree and the Chickasaw plum trees will be cold hardy in climate zone 5. The elderberry plant and the strawberry bushes grow in all climate zones in ME. The fast growing sawtooth oak tree, the gobbler oak tree and the white oak trees will only grow and produce acorns in zone 5.
The classic bunch grapevines that were introduced from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, such as the Red Catawba grapevine, the white Niagara grape vine and the Concord grape vines will produce grapes in Maine, and some seedless grapes have been growing in pick-your-own high quality grape vineyards.

Red raspberry bushes are being grown in many Maine gardens and are bearing after being planted on organic berry farms, where pick-your-own raspberry bushes reportedly are profitable and produce good crops of tasty red raspberries. Blueberry plants are native to Maine on low bushes, making blueberries easy to harvest, where large blueberry plant harvests can supplement a berry farm income. Blackberry plants will grow in Maine and the thornless blackberry bushes have replace the thorny blackberry bush, since the new introductions of the blackberry cultivars from researchers for the University of Arkansas. Find how to get the best tips and information reviews on how to grow plants and trees on Ty Ty Nursery,

Maine bamboo plants are very cold hardy, fast growing and will survive minus degrees 20 F. below zero outside if the bamboo plant clumps are given mulch and protection, but perhaps, the best use for bamboo plants in Maine cities like Augusta, Portland and on the coast at Kennebunkport and is as a useful ornamental planting inside the office or house or especially valuable to use when planted at indoor covered and heated malls where temperatures are controlled. Bamboo plants grow colorful canes in colors of yellow, black-greenish and bright blue, as well as the most common green.
To all those avid gardeners and plant lovers in the State of Maine, Agave plants, Yucca trees and Aloe plants can be containerized and taken inside to grow during the winter. The strange unearthly forms grow into uncanny shapes and are armed with prickly, fleshy thorny sharp spikes attached to the leaves. The Agave americana ‘Marginata’, also called, Century Plant, is a native American plant that has bright white stripes that encircle each leaf, and there is also a spineless Agave attenuata that has no thorns, teeth or terminus spike. There are some Yucca gloriosa plants that grow into small trees that are native plants also called, Spanish Bayonet’, to America that will survive outside in zone 5 of ME. The Aloe vera plant is an excellent first aid plant that contains in the leaves a juice that will cure fire ant bits, bee stings and flesh burns.

The butternut is the “white walnut” (Juglans cinerea); it grows into a hand some 40 to 50 foot tree, produces richly flavored nuts in two to three years and a satiny wood prized by cabinet makers. Wild butternuts are hard to crack, but varieties selected for superior shelling qualities are the ones offered by nurs eries.

The heart nut (Juglans sieboldiana var cordiformis) grows to about 35 feet, produces heart‐shaped nuts of ex cellent quality that also shell well. It the fastest growing of the nut trees, bears in about five years, makes a good looking shade tree, and is finding in creasing favor with northern nurseries.

In the wild state the black walnut (Juglans nigra) soars to a towering 150 feet and is one of the country’s most valued woods. The hardy Thomas strain generally reaches 65 feet, and where it has 150 growing days between frosts it produces a generous crop of nuts. Harder to crack than the English walnuts, they have a distinct flavor of their own that is excellent.

The English walnut (J. regia) is sold in grocery stores. The nuts produced by the hardy Carpathian strain are as delicious and as easy to shell. The Car pathian will, survive severe cold and, if foliage is not damaged by late spring or early fall frosts, will produce well, usually four, sometimes eight years after planting. It grows into a particu larly pretty 30 foot shade tree.

The shagbark hickory (Carya ovate) grows slowly to a towering 130 feet, while its cousin the hardy northern pecan (C. illinoensis) grows rapidly to 40 or 50 feet. Where the climate allows a minimum of 150 growing days be tween frosts and summers are warm, both produce nuts smaller than the paper shell pecans but equal or better in flavor. Not all nurseries carry the hickories because a non‐fibrous tap root makes them difficult to transplant.

The American hazelnut (Corylus americana) is a charming little tree shrub five to seven feet tall. It produces filberts as crisp and delicious but smaller than the popular not‐so‐hardy European filbert. It flourishes where peaches do fairly well.

The Chinese chestunt (Castanea mol lissima) is less hardy than the native chestnut but it produces larger nuts of excellent quality. Most successful where, peaches do fairly well, it reaches 35 feet at maturity, is fast growing, has strik ing, almost tropical foliage.

Cooperative Extension: Tree Fruits

Fruit trees are grown for their attractive blossoms in spring, for their healthful fruit in the fall, or to have fruit bearing trees as part of a garden landscape. Another reason for maintaining a home orchard is to continue the cultivation of hard-to-find varieties that are no longer commercially available, such as Belle de Boskoop apples or Green Gage plums. Whatever the reason, a knowledge of the cultural requirements can prevent problems from occurring and add a new dimension to home gardening.

The purpose of this website is to provide the home orchardist with the knowledge to successfully grow fruit trees under the conditions that exist in Maine. Cultural practices for apple, pear, peach, cherry, plum, and apricot are described here. For additional information about growing plums, see Plum Production in Maine, Bulletin #2034, University of Maine Cooperative Extension. For information on growing peaches, see Growing Peaches in Maine, Bulletin #2068, University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Orchards can be low maintenance or high maintenance depending on the desires of the gardener. When the goal is to produce a large supply of blemish-free fruit, an orchard will require annual care. Trees planted for aesthetics or as a source of food for wildlife require little or no care.

If you would like to know more about tree fruit production or other types of gardening, please contact the University of Maine Cooperative Extension or the Highmoor Farm or visit the UMaine Extension website.

The University of Maine Agriculture and Forest Experiment Station at the Highmoor Farm
P.O. Box 179
Monmouth, ME 04259
207.933.2100 ext. 105
E-mail: [email protected]

University of Maine Cooperative Extension Administrative Offices
5741 Libby Hall
Orono, ME 04469-5741
1.800.287.0274 (in Maine)
E-mail: [email protected]

Additional contributors: James Schupp, Majorie Peronto, and David Handley. The information presented here was generated from years of research at the agricultural experiment stations throughout the United States and other countries.

Growing Dwarf Fruit Trees and Nut Trees

The Future of Dwarf Fruit Trees

Miniature fruit trees are the wave of the future. At the 1980 North American Fruit Explorers conference at Stark Brothers Nursery, Paul Stark Jr. stated that he sees the miniature tree as the predominant commercial tree in the years to come. (When the company responsible for introducing the nectarine as a major crop says something like that, I listen!)

The Virtues of Fruit Trees:

Early Bearing Fruit

Miniature trees fruit earlier than do standard varieties. Flowering the year of planting is common. In fruit tree talk, miniatures are “precocious.”

High Fruit Yields

Miniatures produce an amazing density of bloom, which is just a preview of the fruit to come. The yields of miniature peach trees are being tested at the Kearney station of the University of California Cooperative Extension. And, so far, the results are astounding.

With trees four feet apart in the row, the yield per acre was a fantastic 13.4 tons in the first year. Standard peaches don’t produce comparable yields until the fifth or sixth year (the average yield for mature standard peaches is 10 to 15 tons per acre). Of course, you probably won’t be planting an acre or needing 26,800 pounds of fruit, but the yield per tree ranged from 14 to 17 pounds! In the sixth season after planting, the per-tree yield was 37 to 120 pounds per tree (or 168 tons per acre)!

The high yields are due in part to the high number of trees that can be planted in a given area and in part to their more efficient use of sunlight. The shorter internodes allow for a greater fruit density per volume of canopy.

In these trials, the fruit averaged between 2.75 and 3 inches in diameter. The researchers state, “Clearly, the gene that dwarfs tree stature does not adversely affect fruit size.” Though I find genetic peaches to be on the small end of the peach spectrum, the catalogs always list “full-size” or “large.” Two more of life’s relative terms!


Another advantage of the dwarfing effect is an abundance of flower. While standard peach trees need yearly pruning to encourage flower bud formation, almost every bud on the new growth of miniature trees is a flower bud. Each spring the branches are laden with bloom. No pruning is required to stimulate flower and fruit production.

To borrow an expression, “The future belongs to the efficient,” and miniature trees insure an efficient future.

Better Fruit Flavor

If you tasted miniature nectarine and peach fruit a few years back and were dissatisfied, try some of the newer varieties. Rapid advances in breeding flavor into the fruit have occurred. The most recently introduced varieties have good to excellent flavor, and varieties not yet released are even more flavorful. Soon, probably within the next five years, genetic dwarf peaches and nectarines will be comparable, or superior, to today’s best commercial varieties.

While the taste of the first fruit miniatures I grew was inferior to that of some standard peaches, there were still advantages to the fruit. The skins of the fully ripened miniature peaches were very thin and practically pulled off the fruit as I picked. The pits are proportionately small, so there is a good percentage of flesh in each fruit.

The flavor of other types of miniature fruit and nuts varies. The miniature Garden Prince almond is as tasty and thin-shelled as any regular almond. The genetic apples, though, resemble the standard store varieties, Red and Golden Delicious — I am not impressed. I think some of the “antique,” or heirloom, varieties, if grafted onto the correct dwarfing rootstock, would give you much more flavor and texture than the miniature apples currently for sale. Miniature cherries have flavors comparable to those of commercial varieties.

Easy Tree Maintenance

With a mature height of six feet or less, miniatures are very easy to care for. Years are required for the tree to reach its mature height. Until then, it’s actually stoop labor just to harvest! Ladders are unnecessary for pruning and picking. The compact size makes it easy to keep an eye out for the first signs of pests and diseases. The small size also brings the tree within the reach of people in wheelchairs, and in general makes these trees very adaptable to many otherwise difficult situations.

Tree Adaptability

In areas with moderate summers, such as the Pacific Northwest, the lack of heat reduces the flavor and delays the ripening of peaches and nectarines. It is possible, however, to improve the fruit by training the tree as an informal espalier on a south-facing wall. If the wall is light in color, it will reflect additional sunlight and heat for better color and flavor, while speeding the maturing of the fruit. It is also helpful to use white gravel mulches below the tree to reflect light throughout the canopy.

A low stone wall can also enhance the ripening of fruit. Miniature trees need only a four- to five-foot wall. “Solarization” of this sort helps insure good fruit in previously marginal areas. Elsewhere, it hastens ripening.

Where spring frosts and rains are a problem, the eaves of your home, especially if more than two feet wide, can protect a miniature tree’s blossoms. You needn’t worry about the shade cast by the eave; the sun reaches its highest point above the horizon on June 21 and then begins a gradual descent. Choose a variety that ripens in the late summer and there will be plenty of sunlight to finish the fruit.

For mail-order sources of dwarf trees, visit the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Seed and Plant Finder:

Container Gardening: The Portable Orchard

Miniature fruit trees can be grown in containers and still be fruitful, although container trees are more work. Even though miniature trees are grafted onto standard roots, they will thrive in containers — if cared for by a fastidious and methodical gardener. Even so, miniature trees planted in the ground always outproduce container plants.

Miniature trees are, however, the only reasonable tree crops for decks, porches, and roof patios. The seasonal bloom alone will be a welcome addition to an urban container garden.

Fruit Tree Diversity Without Limited Space

A selection of early-, middle-, and late-season peaches is a great way to protect yourself from unpredictable weather. And spreading the harvest out with miniature trees reduces the need for canning. Because you can plant so many more trees in the same area a single standard peach would require, the initial cost is greater. But the precocity and productivity of miniature trees quickly compensate for the initial higher cost. And the cost is coming down, thanks to greater volume of sales, and may soon be comparable to that of other dwarf fruit trees.

Dwarf Tree Longevity

An exciting virtue of these trees is their probable longevity compared to dwarf trees. With standard peaches, the expected commercial life is only 15 years. Dwarf peach and nectarine trees fare worse. Grafted onto Prunus tomentosa or P. besseyi rootstock, they have a productive life of only four to eight years.

Miniature trees appear to be different. Mr. Donald Harris of Novato, California, bought one tree as a dwarf from the garden section of a local department store — 18 years ago! The tree is still vigorous and shows no signs of decline. Mr. Harris claims a yield of 300 fruits on this four-foot-high by eight-foot-wide tree.

Also, on a visit to Long Island, New York (where the climate is much harsher than in Novato), I saw a 12-year-old miniature peach, Anderson’s Bonanza variety, that was still prolific, vigorous, and healthy.

Caring for Miniature Trees

Protect a new tree from the sun. Sunburned bark at the base of the trunk is the first place of entry for peach borers. Paint any white latex paint (interior or exterior) from just below the soil line up to the first several branches. Then be sure to get down on your knees occasionally to peek under the leaves to check for borer damage.

In the first season, remove all tiny, immature fruits, to allow the roots to more easily get established. This is quite a test of willpower. Those who fudge on this do get to taste the fruit the first season, but their trees would be better off if the fruit were removed.

From the second year on, thin the young fruits to leave one every three to four inches along the branch. Wait until the tiny fruit is as big as a jelly bean to make sure there is no fruit drop after thinning. This will insure the largest fruit possible. One of my clients failed to thin and had peaches as thick as grapes, too crowded to ripen well and too small to eat.

Not All Miniature Trees are Equal

The accompanying list of varieties outlines some of the distinguishing virtues and limitations of the miniature trees. Keep abreast of the latest developments through fruit tree catalogs and periodicals on gardening, and there may well be a miniature tree in your future . . . to help keep your home orchard short and sweet.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is excerpted from Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape — Naturally, by Robert Kourik (copyright © 1986 by Robert Kourik).

Rolling River Nursery is a USDA certified Organic Nursery run by Planting Justice in Oakland, CA. We produce a wide diversity of container grown, hardy, temperate and subtropical fruit trees and bushes, as well as many great native and multipurpose tree seedlings, plus other useful shrubs, herbs and groundcovers. From our many years of experience growing and trialing (testing) fruit and nut trees we have selected the best of our varieties for your orchards and gardens. Our mission is to provide organically grown, vigorous and productive plants, so you too can enjoy healthy, home grown, tree-ripened fruit year round.

What does it mean to be USDA certified Organic?

We grow and care for our plants using practices that are people, animal and environmentally friendly and safe. We use natural fertilizers, hand weeding, and ducks and chickens as well as other organic pest controls, instead of the harsh chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, commonly used in the conventional nursery trade. Rolling River Nursery is committed to providing a healthy working environment and promoting sustainability, while producing high quality plants which will thrive and grow well. We are also pleased to be one of the few nurseries to offer organic nursery stock at this time.

* note there is a small amount of stock we have brought in from other conventional nurseries that we would like to make available to our customers. Such Products will be identified accordingly, as conventional.

Please browse our online store offering a large selection of plants for the edible landscape. We have been busy adding many new and diverse varieties of plants from around the world. While we have an excellent well-tested collection of apple trees, pear trees, peach trees, cherry trees, plum trees, kiwi vines, many berry plants and much, much more, we’re particularly happy to offer one of the largest collections of fig trees, pomegranate trees, grape vines, blueberry bushes, citrus trees and currant bushes available anywhere. We have plants to fit in any landscape, from the small backyard to the large acreage. Many of our plants are highly ornamental in the landscape, and we always strive to grow varieties and use rootstocks that will make for plants that are hardy, productive and long lived.

We hope we may be of help to you in creating your own abundance and enjoying the rich rewards that planting trees and perennial plants bring. Besides the benefits of food, shade, wood, and clean air, planting trees is an affirmation of the future, a gift to our children and those to come.
Happy gardening and feasting,
Planting Justice

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