Fruit trees are a reader’s favorite to grow in desert settings. Learn our most recommended fruit trees that grow in the desert!
Those living in desert climates have a wealth of trees and fruit trees that thrive in the environmental conditions. It’s best to select trees with low-chill requirements and produce fruit that ripen before summer’s extreme temperatures to prevent sunburn. Regardless of the type, giving fruit trees appropriate care and preferred growing conditions produces the best growth and fruiting. Continue reading because we’ve outlined just a few fruit trees that grow well in a desert garden.
Plum Trees (Prunus spp.)
Like most fruit trees hardy growing in desert climates, plum varieties with a low-chill requirement are best suited for growing in the area’s conditions. Plum trees make attractive deciduous fruit trees that don’t grow too large, usually averaging around 10 to 20 feet tall. In spring, the tree bursts into bloom with the tree’s canopy filling with flowers. The juicy and tasty stone fruits follow the flowers.
Plum trees prefer a sunny location with well-drained soil. Although trees prefer locations with soil that drains well, they are not drought-tolerant and require additional water in the hot, dry desert conditions. If conditions are too dry, the tree may suffer fruit drop. Below are some good varieties that will thrive in a desert landscape.
Santa Rosa is a Japanese variety that is more heat-tolerant than many plum varieties and is hardy in USDA zones 5 – 9. Trees develop to be about 18 to 20 feet wide and tall at maturity and it takes around three years for trees to produce fruit. In spring, the tree fills with a canopy of white blooms, making it quite attractive in a desert garden. Large red to purple fruits with yellow flesh ripen midseason. The fruit is tasty, eaten fresh, canned, or used to cook and usually ripen in summer.
The plum tree has low-chill hours of between 300 to 500 hours, making it a suitable choice for desert climates. Although self-pollinating, fruit production is larger when there’s another Japanese plum tree planted nearby. Irrigate regularly, especially during the flowering and fruiting stage.
Methley plum is a Japanese variety whose heat tolerance makes it a good choice for growing in a desert garden. The tree is hardy growing in USDA zones 5 – 9. The standard variety grows around 20 feet tall and wide and the dwarf version grows around 10 feet tall and wide. The tree fills with a canopy of white flowers early in the season, with plums ripening in late spring and early summer. The vigorous growing tree is a heavy bearer producing sweet and juicy reddish-purple fruits. The plum tree usually starts bearing fruit in two to three seasons and the fruits are good eaten fresh or used for jellies.
Methley’s low-chill requirements of around 250 hours make it a suitable choice for growing in desert areas. Although quite heat-tolerant, it grows best when irrigated regularly. The plum tree is self-pollinating, but fruit production is better when another Japanese plum is planted close. Methley makes a good pollinator for other plum trees. Like all plum trees, Methley grows best in well-draining soil.
Apple Trees (Malus domestica)
Apple trees grow well in a desert climate. (1) Not only do they tolerate hot conditions, but they also have low-chill requirements. Depending on the variety, apple trees can grow anywhere from 15 to 25 feet tall and wide. The deciduous trees are quite showy in springtime as their canopies fill with white flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Tasty apples follow the spent flowers. Depending on the type, apples can be red, pink, yellow, green, and blushed. The fruits are good eaten fresh, cooked, or canned.
For the best success, grow apple trees in slightly acidic soils that drain well. In addition, for the best flower and fruit production, the tree requires a location situated in full sun. Soils that tend to retain too much water and become soggy, should be avoided. For the best growth, irrigate the fruit tree regularly to prevent blossom and fruit drop, especially when conditions are extremely hot and dry. Listed below are some suitable cultivars growing well in a desert region.
Originally from Israel, Ein Shemer is an excellent deciduous tree for a desert region like Arizona. The heavy fruit-producing tree has a low-chill requirement of 100 to 250 hours and is hardy in USDA zones 6 – 9. It’s a suitable addition for a smaller landscape as mature trees grow around 12 to 15 feet tall and wide. The springtime blooms give way to medium-sized apples that are pale yellow. Apples ripen in summer and are crisp and tart, making them delicious eaten fresh or made into applesauce.
Although self-fertile, you’ll get more productivity when another apple pollinator is planted closeby. Plant Ein Shemer in fertile soil that drains well and is located in a full sun site. For the best growth, water the fruit tree regularly, especially when conditions are especially hot and dry. If you plant another type of apple close to the Ein Shemer, plant it around 15 to 20 feet apart for good cross-pollination. Anna makes a good pollinator for Ein Shemer.
With low-chilling requirements of only 200 hours, Anna is a good fruit tree for those in a climate with mild winters. It is hardy throughout USDA zones 6-9, making it a suitable apple tree for Phoenix, Arizona. Anna trees are deciduous and average around 20 to 25 feet tall and wide. Trees fill with spring blooms, making it a showy addition to the garden. Branches then become heavy with yellow fruits displaying a reddish blush. The fruit is sweet and crisp, making it great tasting eaten fresh or used in cooking. An early producer, Anna apples ripen in early summer and can be stored for up to two months.
Another self-fertile fruit tree, Anna trees produce larger crops when another apple is planted closeby. Ein Shemer makes a good companion fruit tree. To reduce issues with growth, blossom, and fruit production, water the tree regularly, especially if your area is experiencing hot and dry conditions. Grow Anna fruit trees in a location with fertile soil that drains well and don’t plant in a location with soggy soil. Full sun produces the best growth.
Pomegranate (Punica granatum)
When it comes to desert fruit trees, pomegranates are an example of a fruiting tree or shrub that thrives in hot areas. No room in the landscape? No problem because there are smaller cultivars well-suited for growth in a pot. Depending on the type, pomegranate plants grow anywhere from 2 to 20 feet tall and with a width of about half. Although deciduous in most of its range, in consistently warm tropical areas, it performs as an evergreen. Reddish-orange, trumpet-shaped flowers bloom in summer, followed by the leathery-skinned, globelike fruit that range from 2 to 4 inches in diameter. The inside of the fruit contains the juicy, sweet sacs containing the seeds.
Flowering and fruiting the best grown in climates that are hot, dry, and with temperatures ranging 90℉ and above. A pomegranate plant is a perfect addition to a desert garden. For the best growth and fruit production, plant the pomegranate in a sunny area with fertile soil that drains well. If growing in pots, use a rich potting mix with good drainage—only water plants when the soil becomes almost completely dry. A few suitable cultivars are listed below that grow well in a desert garden.
For a true dwarf pomegranate that is perfect for small garden areas or grown in containers, Nana fits the bill. Plants typically grow 2 to 4 feet tall and wide with thorn-lined branches. The deciduous leaves start out in spring a bronze color, changing to a bright green and add fall color changing to yellow. Everything about Nana is small, including the summer blooming smaller reddish-orange flowers and the dwarf reddish fruit ripening in fall.
If growing Nana in the garden, it prefers a sunny location with fertile soil that drains well. Although relatively tolerant to drought once established, the pomegranate requires consistent moisture while it’s flowering in summer and especially if conditions are hot and dry. If growing in containers, use a rich, well-draining potting mix. Use at least a 3-gallon container with bottom drain holes. Plants are self-fruitful and don’t require a pollinator.
A pomegranate that produces its best quality in hot inland locations, Wonderful is a great choice for desert gardens. It’s hardy growing throughout USDA zones 7 – 10. It grows into a large shrub with a mature height and width of about 6 to 8 feet. Large, orange-red flowers bloom in summer, followed by large red fruit with a juicy tart flavor. It’s a pomegranate commonly found at your local grocery store. The fruit is better used in juicing over eating fresh.
Grow a Wonderful pomegranate in a sunny location in fertile soil that drains well. The pomegranate produces vigorous growth and is a heavy producer of fruit, so plant in a location where it can spread without interference. Although it’s relatively tolerant to drought once established, water regularly during flowering and when outdoor conditions are extremely hot and dry. Plants are self-fruiting and don’t require an additional pollinator.
Peach Trees (Prunus persica)
Peach tree cultivars hardy growing in desert climates are bred to have low-chill hours necessary to flower and produce fruit. Additionally, they have also been bred to tolerate the heat and produce healthy growth provided they are given continued care. The deciduous tree makes an attractive desert garden addition with their pinkish spring flowers. The flowers turn into the juicy and sweet stone fruits that are tasty eaten fresh off the tree or used in various cooking recipes. Trees can start producing peaches as early as three years. Depending on the particular cultivar, peach trees grow anywhere from 8 to 20 feet tall and wide, making them suitable additions to a small space desert garden.
Although peaches are considered fussy compared to many plants, they produce healthy growth and a bounty of delicious fruit when provided their preferred care and growing conditions. For the best flowering and fruiting, situate the peach tree in a location receiving full sun. The tree prefers a fertile sandy loam soil that drains well and doesn’t remain soggy. Irrigate regularly, especially when the outdoor environment is especially hot and dry and when the tree is flowering and starts producing fruit. Below are some excellent peach cultivars hardy growing in a desert garden.
Bred by the University of Florida for hardiness in hot locales, Tropic Beauty is a great fruit tree to add to your desert garden. It’s hardy in USDA zones 8 through 10 with low-chill hours of 100 to 200 hours. Trees average around 15 feet tall and wide, making it a good selection for smaller gardens. In early spring and before new foliage appears, the tree bursts into bloom with light pink flowers. About 89 days after flowering, medium-sized, freestone peaches that are yellow with a red blush and yellow flesh are ready for harvesting.
Plant Tropic Beauty in a sunny location with well-drained fertile soil that doesn’t tend to collect water. Peach trees with wet feet won’t thrive. Irrigate the tree regularly, especially while it establishes itself into the new planting location. Depending on your local weather, you may have to irrigate daily, especially when conditions are hot and dry. Trees are self-pollinating, so you don’t require another peach tree to get fruit and Tropic Beauty can start producing peaches as early as two years after planting.
Flordaprince is a great peach tree cultivar that is extremely hardy growing in a desert garden found in locations like Arizona. Trees are hardy growing in USDA zones 9 through 10. Developed by the University of Florida, it’s another peach that’s hardy growing in consistently warm locations. The tree has a low-chill requirement of only 150 hours. The deciduous tree grows around 15 to 18 feet tall and with a similar width. Light pink flowers bloom early in the springtime, followed by tasty peaches ready for harvest in late spring and early summer. The medium-sized, semi-freestone peaches are yellow, with 80-percent of the skin covered in a red blush.
For the best growth and production of flowers and fruit, grow Flordaprince in a location receiving full sun. It performs best in fertile soils that drain well and don’t remain soggy after rain or irrigation. When it comes to continued care, irrigate newly planted trees regularly while they establish themselves in the planting site. You may have to irrigate daily if your weather is hot, dry, and the fruit tree is flowering and producing fruit. Flordaprice is self-fruiting, so you won’t need another peach for pollination.