10 Best Dwarf Fruit Trees to Grow in California

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Written By Thomas Pitto

Propagation Expert & Permaculture Enthusiast

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Home » California » 10 Best Dwarf Fruit Trees to Grow in California

Many people these days find themselves living in smaller spaces with smaller yards to match.

It’s natural to think that this will make growing fruit trees more difficult, if not impossible.

However, this is not necessarily the case. With many dwarf trees available, you’ll be surprised at the bounty you can harvest from a small space.

Dwarf fruit trees tend to be anywhere between 5-8 ft tall, so can fit in the smallest of spaces.

Regardless of whether you’re in NorCal or SoCal, there are plenty of dwarf fruit trees for you to choose from.

10 Excellent Dwarf Fruit Trees To Grow In CA

1. Weeping Santa Rosa Plum (Prunus salicina)

Dwarf Plum
Image by Lenore Edman via Flickr

Plum trees are cultivated for ornamental purposes as well as fruit production. The Weeping Santa Rosa Plum produces delicious edible fruit and is also a sight to behold when in bloom.

Santa Rosa is a Japanese plum cultivar that does well in a Mediterranean climate when cross-pollinated with an American plum cultivar, requiring few chill hours (400) to flower and set fruit. Plant in full sun in well-draining soil for optimum fruit production.

The Weeping Santa Rosa Plum may take between 4 and 6 years to bear fruit and is normally ready to harvest around July. Whilst Santa Rosa Plums are self-fertile, they will do better with other species close by for cross-pollination.

Other Common Names: Santa Rosa Plum

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 8-10 ft tall and 12-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: May

2. Dwarf Belle Of Georgia Peach (Prunus persica ‘Belle of Georgia’)

Dwarf Peach
Image by melandory via Flickr

The Belle of Georgia Peach is an heirloom hybrid variety of peach that rarely exceeds 10 ft tall. It produces rich, juicy, and firm fruit and is a self-fertile variety. They do well in more northerly zones and produce a bounty of beautiful peaches with a rose blush when ready to pick.

The Belle of Georgia Peach also produces beautiful red flowers in spring, and the fruit is ready to pick in late August. The fruit is firm and extremely flavorful and contains a white freestone with a hint of red. 800-850 chill hours between 32° and 45° F are required for fruit production.

Whilst self-fertile, another variety nearby will ensure a greater harvest. The Belle of Georgia is a fast-growing fruit tree that grows best in well-drained sandy soils.

Other Common Names: Belle of Georgia

Growing Zones: 5-8

Average Size at Maturity: 8-10 ft tall and 8-10 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

3. Dwarf Pomegranate (Punica granatum ‘Nana’)

Dwarf Pomegranate
Image by Vladislav Litvinov via Flickr

The dwarf pomegranate is a small shrub or tree that’s normally deciduous but can retain its leaves in warm winter areas. The leaves are narrowly oblong and emerge bronze in the spring and change to a bright yellow in the fall.

An abundance of funnel-shaped flowers appears in the summer. The fruit is somewhat sourer than average pomegranates, but can still be eaten if not just enjoyed for its ornamental value.

Pomegranates will tolerate wet and heavy soil but do best in areas with deep well-drained soil. They are suitable for many areas of California as they require very few chill hours; between 100-150 hours below 45°F. Pomegranates will grow best in full sun and are drought tolerant once established.

Other Common Names: Pomegranate Nana, Granada Nana, Carthaginian Apple Nana

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 3-5 ft tall and 3-5 ft wide

Flowering Season: Summer

4. Dwarf Meyer Lemon (Citrus x meyeri)

Meyer Lemon
Image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

Meyer lemons are hybrids between lemons and mandarin oranges, making them much sweeter than the lemons available commercially. Dwarf Meyer Lemons are grafted onto dwarf rootstocks and can easily be grown in containers in cooler climates and will grow as big as the container allows.

In their native China, Meyer Lemons grow in a shrub-like form but can easily be trained into a tree.

Aside from the abundance of delicious and juicy fruit, you’ll be rewarded by the intensely heady fragrance of the blossom that appears throughout the year. Plant in full sun in well-drained sandy soil. Citrus won’t tolerate wet feet so be sure not to overwater.

Other Common Names: Dwarf Meyer Lemon

Growing Zones: 9-11

Average Size at Maturity: 5-7 ft tall and 4-8 ft wide

Flowering Season: Fall to early spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

5. Dwarf Fig (Ficus carica)

Brown Turkey Fig (Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’) Tree and Fruit
Brown Turkey Fig – Images by Fern Berg, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

Fig Trees are native to Western Asia and the Mediterranean, so many varieties are suited to the climate of CA. Whilst standard figs can grow fairly tall, there are several dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties you can choose from that can reach their full height at 15 ft or less.

If you have enough space, however, you may consider planting a regular-sized fruit tree in your yard.

Figs can easily be pruned to retain a small size. Fig trees need little in the way of maintenance once established but will produce best with supplemental summer irrigation to enjoy the most bountiful harvest.

Other Common Names: Common Fig

Growing Zones: 7-10

Average Size at Maturity: 3-5 ft tall and 2-3 ft wide

Dwarf Varieties Suitable for California: Black Jack, Little Miss Figgytm Tree, Brown Turkey Fig, Osborne Prolific Fig Tree, Chicago Hardy Fig Tree, LSU Gold, Celeste, Violette de Bordeaux, LSU Purple Fig

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

6. Dwarf Calamondin (Citrofortunella microcarpa)

Image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

Calamondins are popular as dwarf fruit trees for their ornamental value and their tart and juicy small fruit. Calamondins are self-fertile and so will produce without any cross-pollination. Like all citrus, the Calamondin produces highly fragrant white blossoms amid dense evergreen foliage.

Calamondins grow incredibly well in containers and can be brought indoors in cooler winter areas. They require little care or maintenance, provided they are planted in well-draining soil.

Other Common Names: Calamondin Orange

Growing Zones: 9-11

Average Size at Maturity: 4-8 ft tall and 3-6 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring/summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

7. Blenheim Apricot (Prunus armeniaca ‘Blenheim’)

Blenheim Apricot (Prunus armeniaca 'Blenheim')
Image by Jessica Merz via Flickr

Blenheim Apricots are semi-dwarf trees that have low chill requirements of 400 hours, making them ideal for mild winter areas of CA. It blooms early, and the fruit can be harvested by July in Central California and has a superb flavor and can be enjoyed fresh. They are hardy down to 0 F.

Blenheim Apricots should be planted in full sun in an area protected from strong wind in well-drained soil. Due to their early blooming, they aren’t suitable for cooler areas susceptible to spring frosts.

Other Common Names: Blenheim Apricot

Growing Zones: 7-9

Average Size at Maturity: 12-16 ft tall and 6-10 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

8. Anna Miniature Apple (Malus domestica ‘Anna’)

Tropical Anna Apple (Malus domestica) Tree, Fruit and Flowers
Anna Apple (Malus domestica) Tree, Fruit and Flowers – Image by Fern Berg, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

Anna Miniature Apples are low chill varieties suitable for the subtropics and warm winter areas. The fruit are sweet and crunchy, and mildly acidic.

They typically only need around 200 chill hours and bloom very early based on Central California conditions. The Anna Miniature Apple is a cultivar developed in Israel, and will even reportedly produce a crop in the desert.

Anna Apples are self-fertile but can benefit from cross-pollination by ‘Dorsett Golden or ‘Einshemer.’ The small size of the Anna Apple makes them suitable for backyards or container growth.

Other Common Names: Anna Apple

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 12-18 ft tall 8-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: Early spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

9. Ultra Dwarf Snow Queen Nectarine (Prunus persica var. nucipersica ‘Snow Queen’)

Snow Queen Nectarine
Image by Living in Monrovia via Flickr

Ultra Dwarf Snow Queen Nectarines are a favorite in the Southwest for their sweet and juicy taste. Their low chill requirements make them suited to warm winter areas. The pink blossom is highly ornamental and will adorn your yard in the early spring with their delicate beauty.

Plant Ultra Dwarf Snow Queen Nectarines in full sun and water moderately after the first growing season. They are self-fertile so will produce without the need for any cross-pollination.

Other Common Names: Ultra Dwarf Snow Queen Nectarine

Growing Zones: 8-10

Average Size at Maturity: 8-15 ft tall and 8-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

10. Bing Miniature Cherry (Prunus avium ‘Bing’)

Bing Cherry Tree
Image via Nature Hills

Cherries will do best in areas where summers are moderately cool. They dislike high humidity and can be the last fruit tree to bloom and the first to be harvested. The fruit is large, almost black/purple, and juicy. Once established they require little maintenance and are reliable producers. Cherries are sensitive to overly wet and compacted conditions.

Bing Miniature Cherry trees require 700 chill hours and can be pollinated by cultivars that flower at the same time, such as Black Tartarian, Van, Rainier, Stella, or Lapins.

Other Common Names: Bing Miniature Cherry Tree

Growing Zones: 5-9

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

Flowering Season: Early spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

Fruit Trees For All

Just because you have a smaller yard doesn’t mean you’re limited when it comes to growing fruit. Advances in agricultural technology and knowledge means that many fruit trees are available in sizes more suited to smaller yards than they previously were.

The climate and planting zones of California allows homeowners to grow a range of tantalizing fruit trees, regardless of whether you’re in the north or south of the state.

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Thomas Pitto

Propagation Expert & Permaculture Enthusiast

Thomas worked for a number of years as the head of plant propagation for a horticultural contractor taking care of many different species of ornamental trees & shrubs. He learned how to propagate certain endangered endemic species and has a love of permaculture, sustainability and conscious living. When Thomas isn't hiking in nature he can be found playing music, reading a book, or eating fruit under a tree.

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