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10 Fruit Trees to Grow in Arkansas (Including Native)


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The relatively mild climate of Arkansas gives the homeowner ample opportunities when it comes to planting a home orchard or even just a few fruit trees.

Arkansas stretches from zone 6 in the northwestern highlands, to zone 8 in the southeastern lowlands.

The warming effect from the Gulf of Mexico to the south and the plains to the west keeps Arkansas largely free from extreme weather conditions.

This gives homeowners many options when planting fruit trees in Arkansas.

10 Excellent Fruit Trees To Grow In Arkansas

1. Plum (Prunus domestica)

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

Having a smaller space doesn’t mean you can’t grow delicious fruit. Plum trees are perfect for those with smaller areas, as they are usually very compact trees. They reward you with delicious fruit in the early summer.

Plums don’t like wet feet, so it’s recommended to plant them in an area with free-draining soil, and long periods of direct sunlight.

Plums thrive in heat, and will produce better fruit with a warmer winter and spring. Plum trees are extremely hardy and resistant to most pests and diseases. You will have to protect them from deer, squirrels, and rabbits who love to feast on plum trees.

Whilst many common varieties of the European plum (Prunus domestica) available now are self-fertile, you’ll experience a better yield with a pollinator tree in the vicinity.

Other Common Names: Plum tree

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 10-16 ft tall and 6-8 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Arkansas: Santa Rosa, Au Rosa, Methley

Flowering Season: Late winter/early spring

2. Peach (Prunus persica)

Peach
Image by Peter Stenzel via Flickr

Peach trees are self-fruitful, meaning you’ll only need one variety for a harvest. However, your yields will be increased with more than one variety. Peach trees will do better with hotter temperatures than other fruit trees, such as apples, cherries, etc. The hot and humid summer conditions of AR are well suited for peach cultivation.

Peach trees have the benefit of being extremely fast-growing and can set fruit within a year or two of planting in favorable conditions. Peach trees don’t do well with cold and will likely die if temperatures drop and remain below 10 Fahrenheit. Plant in full sun in free-draining soil.

Other Common Names: Peach Tree

Growing Zones: 4-9

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

Varieties Suitable for Arkansas: Belle of Georgia, Blaze Prince, Elberta, Red Haven, Scarlet Prince, Bonfire Patio, Surecrop, Bonanza Patio

Flowering Season: Spring

3. Cherry (Prunus cerasus)

Cherry (Prunus cerasus)
Image by Mari Dallavara via Flickr

Cherries can be grown in Arkansas’ climate, but tart cherries will do best, especially in the southern portion of the state.

Sweet cherries are more prone to disease, and splitting and are less tolerant of the heat and humidity experienced in many parts of AR. Choose a variety that’s small enough to fit a bird net around to retain your harvest.

Cherries need full sun and well-drained soil, and won’t tolerate wet feet. The soil in Arkansas varies between heavy clay soil in the Ozark and Ouachita mountains to silt in the delta.

If you have heavy clay soil, you’ll have to make amendments if you want to grow cherries. Clay soil can easily be identified in AR by its red color and sticky texture when wet.

Other Common Names: Cherry Tree

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 10-14 ft tall and 8-12 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Arkansas: Bing, Montmorency, Van

Flowering Season: Spring

4. Asian Persimmon (Diospyros Kaki)

Asian Persimmon
Image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

The most commonly planted persimmon for consumption is the Asian Persimmon. The native American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) whilst it is edible after frosts, is not as showy or tasty as its Asian counterpart.

The Asian persimmon is a hardy tree tolerant that’s heat tolerant and does well in Arkansas. The sweet fruit ripens from August to December and stores well.

The Fuyu-gaki variety is the most commonly planted variety in the world and yields a crimson, sweet fruit when ripe. Whilst self-fruitful, it’ll produce better with a pollinator tree in the area. Asian persimmon trees will grow best in loamy, moist, well-drained soils in full sun, but they’ll adapt to many other soil conditions.

Other Common Names: Oriental Persimmon, Japanese Persimmon

Growing Zones: 4-9

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

Varieties Suitable for Arkansas: Fuyu, Great Wall, Matsumoto, Gionbo

Flowering Season: Mid-April

5. Fig (Ficus carica)

Fig
Image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

Whilst occasional cold winter spells can kill off unestablished trees, figs can be grown in Arkansas. Figs are generally a disease and pest-free choice of fruit to grow.

They are self-fruitful, with fruit growing on new growth. Gardeners in AR can even consider growing figs in containers, and bringing them indoors when the threat of frosts comes.

Big fig trees have successfully been grown as far north as Fort Smith in southern Arkansas. Northern counties can still grow figs but they may freeze back annually.

Plant figs in a protected spot where they receive as much sunlight as possible. Once planted in a suitable spot, figs are extremely low maintenance, needing no special care. Figs can produce a lot of fruit which will split if not picked beforehand.

This attracts wasps, bees and flies, so many people chose to plant figs away from patios, entryways, and seating areas.

Figs can be grown in most soil types provided they are free-draining.

Other Common Names: Fig Tree

Growing Zones: 6-10

Average Size at Maturity: 15-35 ft tall and 15-30 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Arkansas: Brown Turkey, LSU Purple, Celeste, Nero, Blanche (aka White Russian) Conadria

Flowering Season: Early Spring

6. Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) – Native Fruit Tree

Pawpaw
Image by Wendell Smith via Flickr

The pawpaw is a native fruit tree with an upright growth habit, and is the only member of the Custard Apple (Annonaceae) family that grows in temperate climates, with all others occurring in the tropics and subtropics.

The leaves are large and attractive and lend a tropical feel, whilst the maroon bloom is equally as eye-catching. Ensuring pollination can be a challenge.

Even though each flower contains both male and female sexes, the female part matures before the pollen is ready. Having more than one tree is the best way to ensure pollination and fruit set. If you don’t have the space, you can always hand pollinate with a small brush.

Pawpaws ripen between mid-August and mid-October. When ripe, the fruit yields to the touch, the green skin lightens in color and develops blackish patches which doesn’t affect the flavor. Pawpaws don’t store well and are eaten by squirrels, raccoons and other wildlife.

Other Common Names: Papaw, Paw Paw, Wild Banana, Prairie Banana, Hoosier Banana, West Virginia Banana, Appalachian Banana, Ozark Banana, Indian Banana, Banango, Poor Man’s Banana, Hillbilly Mango

Growing Zones: 5-8

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

Flowering Season: April or May, with or slightly before the leaves

7. Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba)

Jujube
Image by Dinesh Valke via Flickr

The Jujube is one of the easiest fruit to grow in the Arkansas climate. Jujube is a medium sized deciduous tree with an graceful, drooping growing habit. There are some thorns, and the branches tend to zigzag.

The slightly fragrant green and white blossom appears in abundance from late spring to early summer. For those unfamiliar with the taste of jujubes, they’re somewhere between and apple and toffee/dates.

Whilst the majority of jujube cultivars are self-fruitful, most will bear more fruit with another variety in the vicinity for cross pollination.

They require very few chill hours to produce fruit and can survive temperatures down to -28 Fahrenheit. The flesh is mahogany and begins to wrinkle when ripe. They can be eaten fresh, dried, or in preserves.

Jujubes do best in hot dry climates and are, according to UoA Cooperative Extension Service, are winter hardy state wide in AR, and rarely suffer late frost damages as they are late bloomers.

Jujubes tolerate drought conditions and very poor soils, making them perfect for home gardeners in AR who want to harvest fruit but don’t necessarily want or have the time to put in the work.

Other Common Names: Chinese Date, Chinese Jujube Tree

Growing Zones: 6-11

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

Varieties Suitable for Arkansas: Li

Flowering Season: May

8. Pear (Pyrus communis)

Pears are climatically adapted to all areas of AR, and are an attractive prospect for home gardeners and aspirants.

Typically they don’t suffer from as many pests as apples do. Oriental hybrid pears are the types most adapted to AR’s climate and according to UoA Cooperative Extension Service ‘Kieffer’ and ‘Orient,’ are the most commonly and successfully grown varieties in the state.

Asian pears, also known as ‘apple pears’ are new to AR and appear to thrive in the northeast of the state. Pears require well-drained soil, although pears are more tolerant of poor draining soil than other fruit trees.

Sandy soils are best, but can be grown in heavy loam or clay in most parts of AR. Plant in full sun/partial shade. Morning sun helps in drying dew which can increase chances of disease.

Pears bloom early so fruit production can be damaged by late frosts, especially in low-lying valleys or near streams.

Other Common Names: Common Pear

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 25-35 ft tall and 15-20 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Arkansas: Comice, Harrow Delight, Kieffer, Maxine, Magness, Moonglow, Seckel, Shinsesik1, 20th Century

Flowering Season: Early spring

9. Apple (Malus communis)

Apple
Image by Alessio Maffeis via Flickr

Apple trees thrive in AR, thanks to the cool fall and spring months. Unlike many other fruit trees, apples can bloom and set fruit even with frost or in snowy conditions. Apples are easy to grow in AR, requiring little attention.

Whilst apples can be grown throughout the state, the Ozark Plateau region in the Northwest is best suited to their cultivation.

Apples will tolerate just about any soil in the region (although they prefer a well-drained loamy soil) and need little in the way or irrigation and maintenance to thrive, apart from some light pruning.

Other Common Names: Common Apple

Growing Zones: 2-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-40 ft tall and 20-40 ft wide

Varieties Suitable for Arkansas: William’s Pride, Pristine, Sun Crisp, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Arkansas Black, Gold Rush, Enterprise

Flowering Season: April – May after the particular varieties chilling hours have been met

10. Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)

Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)
Image by Malcolm Manners via Flickr

Apricots are another tree that can do well in the heat and humidity of Arkansas. Even when summers are dry, apricots will continue to grow and produce fruit. Apricot trees aren’t very large, so alongside plums, are suited to those with small areas who want to grow their own delicious fruit.

Stone fruit can be more difficult to grow in AR than say pears and apples, but not impossible, provided that you’re willing to give your trees a little care. Wind and wet conditions can hamper apricot production in the state.

Planting your apricot tree in a raised, sheltered location, in full sun can help prevent root rot and other issues. Young trees may need to be wrapped in burlap or another heat retaining material for the cold months.

Plant in well-draining, sandy loam for best results.

Other Common Names: Apricot

Growing Zones: 5-8

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

Varieties Suitable for Arkansas: Royal, Tropic Gold, Blenheim

Flowering Season: Early Spring

Bountiful Arkansas

The hot and humid mildly subtropical climate of Arkansas gives the home growers plenty of options when it comes to deciding what fruit trees to plant.

Whether you’re in the cooler, northwestern highlands in zone 6, or the warmer low-lying areas of the southeast, there are plenty of fruit trees you can grow, provided you plant a variety suited to your local growing zone.

Many temperate fruit trees need a set amount of chilling hours to set fruit, so making sure the variety you choose suits your area is key to your fruit growing success.

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