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12 Fruit Trees That Grow in Delaware (Peach, Cherry, Lemon, Plum & Many More)


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Growing fruit at home is an aspiration for many home gardeners, aspiring homesteaders, those looking for more food security, or simply those who want to grow the fruit they enjoy eating.

It’s no great secret the fruit picked and eaten straight from the tree tastes nothing like what you can buy in the shops, which is usually picked before it’s ripe for shipping purposes. You can also choose to grow varieties that you can’t easily find in the shops.

Whatever your reason for wanting to grow your own fruit, you’ll find many options, as the mild winters mean that Delaware’s planting zone sits in zone 7.

12 Delicious Fruit Trees To Plant In Delaware

1. Peaches (Prunus persica)

Peach
Image by DM via Flickr

Peaches can be grown throughout DE, with commercial production being centered in the Southern part of the state. Peach trees require full sun for optimal growth and to help them fight off any insects that will take away their strength.

Temperatures consistently below 10 F will likely kill peach trees. Peaches are self-sterile, so you won’t need to plant more than one to ensure pollination, although you may see higher yields if you do choose to do so.

Peach trees like loose-draining soil, so sandy-type soil is ideal, with added organic mulch. Most varieties of peach require 600 chilling hours at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Peach trees have the benefit of being extremely fast-growing, with grafted trees bearing fruit 1-2 years after planting. They also thrive in heat, so the warm and humid summers of DE will benefit your peaches.

Other Common Names: Peach Tree

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 18-20 ft tall and 18-20 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Delaware: Hale Haven, Redhaven, Reliance, White, Sunhaven

Flowering Season: Spring

2. Sweet Cherry (Prunus avium) & Sour Cherry (Prunus cerasus)

Cherry tree
Image by Duy Thuong Ngo 吳 惟 尚 via Flickr

Both sweet and sour cherries will thrive in DE, according to the University of Delaware in Newark and Dover. Sweet cherries (Prunus avium) are often cultivated as flowering trees, and their large size often makes them more suited to parks and streets than all but the largest home environments.

However, newer dwarf rootstocks are now being used. The bark is smooth, purplish-brown, and dark black-brown on older trees. The leaves are simple, alternate, and ovoid. Spring sees the production of a spectacular show of flowers, whilst fall sees the leaves turn orange, red, and brown before being shed.

Sour cherries are less susceptible to pest and disease problems than sweet ones and can be more reliably fruitful. The fruit of sour cherries can be eaten raw, cooked, canned, or made into pie. They are also smaller than sweet cherry trees, making them more manageable for home gardeners.

Cherries won’t tolerate poorly drained soil, so avoid heavy clay as much as possible. Sour cherries require more nitrogen and water than sweet cherries. Cherries will do best with cross-pollination, so plant different varieties that flower at the same time for best results.

Other Common Names: Sweet Cherry (Prunus avium) Sour Cherry (Prunus cerasus)

Growing Zones: 5-8

Average Size at Maturity: 25-35 ft tall and 15-25 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Delaware: Black Tartarian, Bing, Red Montmorency, Red North Star

Flowering Season: Early spring

3. Pear (Pyrus communis)

Pear
Image by Bonnie Moreland via Flickr

Pear trees are cold hardy, making them a good choice for home gardeners in DE. They can also tolerate some drought, heat, and high humidity better than apples.

Pears require cross-pollination, so you’ll have to plant more than one variety with the same flowering time for cross-pollination to reap the best harvest possible.

Pears grow best in well-draining loamy soil, with a pH between 6 and 7. Pears are one of the easiest fruit trees to grow in DE, provided they don’t get wet feet. If the ground gets too wet over winter, it could cause root rot for pear trees.

Other Common Names: Common Pear, European Pear

Growing Zones: 2-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 ft tall and 10-20 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Delaware: Shenandoah, Pride, Seckel, Magness, Sunrise, Blakes, and Potomac. Asian Pear (Pyrus pyrifolia): Shinko, Shinsui, Kosui, and Olympic.

Flowering Season: Spring

4. Fig (Ficus carica)

Fig
Image by HERBCYCLOPEDIA via Flickr

Fig trees are native to the Middle East/ Mediterranean and cold hardy varieties can be grown in DE. Figs are a deliciously sweet, sun-kissed delight and northern gardeners can enjoy their own hand-picked figs with a little thought and planning.

Figs will grow in a sheltered spot in full sun. Planting against a south-facing stone (or any material) wall will help them soak up extra heat emitted at night. Figs like a well-draining, organically rich soil. They’ll even tolerate heavy clays if there’s adequate drainage.

Gardeners with limited space can grow figs in containers, as restricting their roots is said to improve fruit production. You can bring container-grown figs inside into a shed, garage or greenhouse over the winter to protect them from the cold.

You can also plant them in the ground, and fill the sides of the hole with paving stones to restrict the roots. Protect trees laden with fruit from birds or squirrels with a net.

Other Common Names: Common fig

Growing Zones: 7-10

Average Size at Maturity: 10-30 ft tall and 10-30 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Delaware: Chicago Hardy, Brown Turkey, Brunswick (AKA Magnolia), Celeste, Petite Negra, Violette de Bordeaux (AKA Negronne) White Marseilles

Flowering Season: Spring

5. Plum (Prunus domestica)

'Early Blood' Plum tree and flowers
Images by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Plum trees thrive in heat and need well-draining sandy/loamy soil to produce a good harvest in the summertime. Plums prefer a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5 so it may be worth testing your soil before planting.

Plums can be one (or a hybrid) of three varieties: European, Japanese, or Damson (American Hybrids) Many of the European varieties are self-fruitful, so you’ll only need one variety to obtain a harvest.

American hybrids and Japanese tend to need cross-pollination, so if you can only plant one plum, sticky to a self-fruitful European one.

American hybrids tend to be the hardiest, with some varieties capable of surviving as far north as zone 3. Protect plum trees from winter winds, as they are susceptible to late frost damage. Avoid planting in low-lying areas where frost or water may settle.

Other Common Names: Plum Tree

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall and 15-20 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Delaware: Fench, Friar

Flowering Season: March – April

6. Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)

Red Mulberry tree
Image by Kami rao via Flickr

Red Mulberry trees are incredibly hardy, and thrive in all kinds of conditions, including in the desert. Mulberries are extraordinarily fast-growing and can be planted by themselves as a fruit-bearing specimen.

Mulberries are easy to grow; your biggest problem will be stopping the birds from getting to the fruit before you do. Red mulberries are native to DE, and the fruit can be eaten fresh, dried, or made into preserves.

Mulberries will grow in just about any type of soil but prefer loose, well-draining soil. They are powerhouses of nutrition, being full on antioxidants, and have even been shown to have anti-cancer properties and can control LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels in the body.

Red mulberries are often overlooked as the fruit easily stains whatever is underneath it. They are also endangered as they have hybridized with the introduced white mulberry (Morus alba). If you’re looking for a native fruit tree or to attract lots of birds and wildlife to your yard, then consider planting a red mulberry.

Other Common Names: Common Mulberry, Red Mulberry Tree

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 35-50 ft tall and 35-50 ft wide

Flowering Season: March to April

7. Paw-Paw (Asimina triloba)

Paw paw
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

Paw-paws are North American natives, from the Great Lakes down to portions of the Florida Panhandle, and are the most northerly member of the custard apple family (Annonaceae).

In the wild, they grow as understory trees, so will do best planted in partial shade of a bigger tree, where they’ll form clumps or thickets. Planted in full sun, they’ll often form a single-trunked specimen with a pyramidal shape. They are deciduous and grow in rich fertile soils.

Paw-Paws produce greenish-blackish fruit, 3-6” long with a palish yellow flesh and dark brown seeds. The taste is tropical; with hints of mango, banana, pineapple, and citrus.

The leaves are obovate-oblong, dark green, and pendulous, turning yellow in the fall. Paw-paws are well suited to the residential edible landscape due to their small size, pyramidal form, and the fact that few pest and disease problems plague them.

Their intriguing flavor is uncommon in temperate climate fruit trees

The flowers are self-incompatible, meaning for pollination and fruit set to occur, you’ll need at least two genetically unrelated paw-paws.

Other Common Names: Paw Paw, Papaw, Hillybilly Mango, Prairie Banana, Hoosier Banana, Indian Banana, Custard Apple, Quaker Delight

Growing Zones: 5-8

Average Size at Maturity: 15-30 ft tall and 15-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May

8. Lemon (Citrus limon)

Lemon tree
Image by Dan Randow via Flickr

Lemon trees can only be grown in containers in DE. If you don’t mind moving your tree indoors when the weather gets cool, you can grow your own lemon tree.

Lemons will thrive when the temperatures soar, and they require very little in the way of maintenance, provided they are planted in a suitable medium. When temperatures drop below 50 Fahrenheit, lemons will stop growing and producing fruit.

Be sure to plant in a well-draining potting mix, with good drainage. Terra cotta pots work well as they are porous, thus stopping water from sitting near the roots for too long and preventing the common citrus cultivation problems. Plant in full sun for best results.

Other Common Names: Lemon Tree

Growing Zones: Down to zone 6 in a container

Average Size at Maturity: 5-8 ft tall and 2-6 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Delaware: Meyer, Lisbon, Ponderosa

Flowering Season: Year-round, depending on the variety

9. Nectarine (Prunus persica var. nucipersica)

Nectarine
Image by Living in Monrovia via Flickr

Most nectarines are self-fruitful so you won’t need another nectarine to produce and harvest your own fruit. Nectarines are a type of peach produced by a genetic mutation that has given them smooth skin.

Nectarines thrive in areas with warm, hot summers and need a cold, dormancy period with temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit to flower and fruit. Be sure to select a variety whose chilling hours matched that of your specific climate.

Nectarines thrive in an area with well-drained sandy soil. Whilst nectarines are self-fertile, having multiple varieties that flower at the same time will greatly increase your harvest.

Other Common Names: Nectarine Tree

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 12-15 ft tall and 12-15 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Delaware: Fantasia, Redgold, Sungo

Flowering Season: Early spring, depending on chill hours

10. Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)

Apricot tree
Image by Gabi Lamberti via Flickr

Apricots are a stone fruit, like their cousins plums, peaches, nectarines, cherries, and almonds. Apricots are self-fertile so don’t need a partner tree to produce. However, they will produce higher yields with one around.

Apricots typically need between 7,000 and 1,000 chilling hours to fruit and usually flower early, so be sure to pick a variety suited to your climate. The harvest can be damaged by late frosts, so be sure to plant on raised ground to avoid this problem.

Apricots need deep, well-draining soil with a lot of organic matter. They won’t tolerate high levels of salt or chloride in water. Many varieties of apricot trees are naturally small and can be kept manageable by pruning.

Other Common Names: Apricot Tree

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-25 ft tall and 20-25 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Delaware: Blenheim, Tropic Gold, Royal

Flowering Season: Late winter/ early spring

11. Apple (Malus domestica)

Apple tree
Image by Emily Carlin via Flickr

Apples are the most popular fruit to grow across the country and thrive in DE’s cool spring and fall. One benefit of growing apples is that they can still fruit if they are subject to snow or frost after they have flowered, unlike most other fruit trees.

Apples aren’t self-fruitful so you’ll need more than one variety that flowers simultaneously to ensure cross-pollination. Luckily there are plenty of options for DE residents to choose from. Golden Delicious, Grimes Golden, Jonathan, and Winter Banana are reportedly good pollen producers.

Bees are necessary for pollination, so be sure to plant plenty of pollinator-friendly plants nearby to entice them to your yard. Apple trees tend to produce more fruit than they can support, so be sure to thin them out to about 6-10 inches between fruit. This will improve the size and quality of the fruit.

Other Common Names: Common Apple.

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 30-40 ft tall and 30-40 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Delaware: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, Winesap, York, Jonathan, Granny Smith, Grime’s Golden, Molly’s Delicious, Redfree, Prima, Liberty, and Freedom, Spartan, Jonagold, Empire, Idared, Spigold, Mutsu, Stayman, Fuji, Snow Sweet, and Black Twig

Flowering Season: Late April to Mid- May

12. Quince (Cydonia oblonga)

Quince tree
Image by manuel m. v. via Flickr

Quince trees are commonly planted in the Mediterranean and have a taste somewhere between an apple and a pear. Quince needs to be cooked into jams or jellies to be enjoyed, as the raw flavor is astringent and the flesh is tough.

Quince trees don’t take up much space, so are ideal if you have a small yard. They are also highly ornamental when in bloom, meaning you can appreciate their unique beauty as well as harvesting your own fruit.

Quince trees will do well in heavy soils where other fruit trees would struggle. Protect from strong winds.

They are self-fruitful, so one tree will still produce, but two planted close to each other will results in a bountiful harvest. Quince bloom late in the season, so you won’t have to worry about late spring frosts, as with other fruit trees such as stone fruit.

Other Common Names: Quince

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 12-15 ft tall and 12-15 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Delaware: Aromatnaya, Cooke’s Jumbo, Kuganskaya, Smyrna, Van Deman, Orange, Pineapple

Flowering Season: Spring

Bountiful Delaware

Delaware sits in zone 7a in the northern portion, and 7b in the warmer southern portion of the state. The comparatively mild winters mean that home growers can cultivate most of the common temperate zone fruits without too many issues related to extremes of temperature.

Fruit picked by your own hand tastes leaps and bounds better than any you could buy in the shops. Not only is the taste better, but it’s also better for your health as freshly picked ripe fruit will be more nutrient dense than unripe fruit, potentially shipped from thousands of miles away.

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