Because Virginia has a fairly moderate climate that places it in USDA plant hardiness zones 5-8, smack in the middle of the 13 hardiness zones, VA gardeners enjoy a considerable range of plants and trees that grow well in this southeastern state.
And when it comes to establishing edible trees in your garden or home orchard, there are many options for fruit trees in Virginia, from the prolific plum to the exotic Mediterranean fig.
Let’s take a look at some of the best, and yummiest, fruit tree options for your property.
10 Tasty Fruit Trees For Virginia Gardeners
1. Plums (Prunus domestica)
Fruit tree growers in Virginia can hardly go wrong in choosing a plum tree for their garden or home orchard. Plum trees provide so much value to your property – most varieties produce fruit abundantly, add aesthetic appeal and some can even be planted as shade trees. They are also relatively low maintenance when planted in the right environment.
Plum trees can be divided into three categories: European, Japanese, and hybrids. European plums are often the best option for US gardeners, as they grow in a wide range of climates and tend to be self-fertile, meaning only one tree is needed to produce fruit.
Most plum tree varieties prefer to be planted in loamy, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH and exposure to plenty of sunlight, between 6–8 hours per day. Try to plant your plum trees up high in a spot with good circulation, to avoid early spring frosts which can stunt both flower and fruit production.
Growing Zones: 3-10
Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 feet tall, with an 8-10 foot spread
Varieties Suitable For Virginia: Elephant Heart, Black Amber, Shiro, Ruby Queen, Damson, Coe’s Golden Drop, Italian Plum, French Prune, Inca, Stanley, Inca, Santa Rosa, Premier
Fruiting Season: Summer
2. Mulberry (Morus)
The sweet, juicy reddish-black berries of the mulberry tree are hard to resist and make an excellent summer treat. Mulberry trees are not only prolific but they begin fruiting in the first 1-3 years! Just be wary of the mess – their fruits fall easily and have a habit of leaving reddish stains on grass and cement.
The two most common species are the red and white mulberry, both of which grow well throughout the US. Just be aware that the white species is considered invasive in certain states including Virginia, so you should always opt for the red mulberry and its cultivars.
The red mulberry tree is a perfect fit for the Virginia climate, as most varieties grow in zones 4-8, encompassing the entire range of Virginia growing zones. They are adaptable trees, able to grow in clay, loam, or sandy soil with a pH range from neutral to acidic. Their main needs are sufficient watering, annual fertilizer, and full to partial sun.
Growing Zones: 4-8
Average Size at Maturity: 30-60 feet tall, with a 20-40 foot spread
Varieties Suitable For Virginia: Big White, David Smith Everbearing, Black Beauty, Beautiful Day, Hick’s Everbearing, Downing, Florida Giant, Kokuso, Sweet Lavender, World’s Best, Stubbs, Russian Mulberry, Shangri La, River View, Rupp’s Romanian, Northrop, Middleton, Pakistan, Oscar’s
Fruiting Season: Summer
3. Pear (Pyrus communis)
While maybe not as common as the apple tree, pear trees are a popular choice for gardens and home orchards. Their fruits are not too sweet, with a fresh flavor and crisp, juicy texture that makes them excellent both eaten fresh and used in desserts and preserves. Pear trees are relatively cold-hardy and fit every USDA zone in Virginia, making it a safe choice for VA gardeners.
As with any fruit tree, there are some things to consider: first is size, as some pear trees can grow well over 40 feet tall with a similar spread. A dwarf or semi-dwarf variety, such as the Bartlett or Moonglow, is better for small spaces. Most pear trees also need to be cross-pollinated, so you should plant one or two compatible varieties to ensure fruit production.
Pear trees need full sun exposure and deep, well-draining soil. They should be watered regularly and pruned and fertilized once a year.
Other Common Names: Common Pear, European Pear, Asian Pear, Swiss Pear
Growing Zones: 4-8
Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 feet tall, with a 25-40 foot spread
Varieties Suitable For Virginia: Bosc, Rescue, Bartlett, Conference, Harrow Delight, Moonglow, Orient, Olympic, Moonglow, Honeysweet, Chojuro, Shinko, Seckel
Fruiting Season: Mid-Summer to Mid-Fall
4. Apple (Malus domestica)
One of the more obvious fruit tree choices for Southeastern gardeners is the humble, tasty, and endlessly useful apple. Since most apple tree varieties grow best in regions below zone 8, Virginia is a very comfortable spot for apple tree planting. There are more than enough apple tree varieties that will suit your needs and the growing conditions on your property.
Apple varieties labeled ‘long season’ are the best choice for VA gardeners as they grow best between zones 5-8, whereas ‘hardy’ apple trees will thrive in zones 3-5.
According to the University of Minnesota Gardening Extension, apple trees can grow in most soil types, so long as the soil is well-draining with a neutral to slightly acidic pH level. Apple trees are not self-pollinating, so be sure to plant at least two close by to ensure fruit production. But be warned – it can take up to 10 years before some apple varieties will begin fruiting.
Growing Zones: 3-8
Average Size at Maturity: 15-30 feet tall, with a similar spread
Varieties Suitable For Virginia: Gala, Akane, Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, Lodi, Gravenstein, McIntosh, Arkansas Black, Granny Smith, Fuji, Macoun, Pink Lady, Red Jonathan, Winesap, Red Rome, Northern Spy, Empire, Jonagold, Gravenstein, Early Harvest
Fruiting Season: Late Summer to Late Fall
5. Cherry (Prunus avium and Prunus cerasus)
Cherry trees can be grown for both fruiting and ornamental purposes, and fruiting varieties fall under three categories: sweet, sour (or tart), and hybrid cherries. Sour cherries grow in a wider range of climates, but all three types of fruiting cherry trees can thrive in Virginia, leaving you with plenty of options to choose from. Just remember that sour cherries tend to be self-pollinating, whereas most sweet varieties are not.
While fruiting cherry trees are not purely ornamental, they are attractive trees that add plenty of appeal with their wide-spreading canopy, lustrous leaves, and gorgeous white and pink cherry blossoms. Their small, jewel-like fruits are not only delicious but add extra interest to the summer landscape.
Plant your cherry trees in deep, fertile, well-draining soil in an area with good air circulation and plenty of sunlight. For best growing results make sure to choose a healthy rootstock, such as the Mazzard or Mahaleb, both of which are highly rated for cherry trees.
Growing Zones: 4-7 (Sweet), 3-9 (Tart/Sour)
Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 feet tall, with a 15-25 foot spread (Sweet Cherry varieties) 10-20 feet tall, with a similar spread (Tart/Sour Cherry varieties)
Varieties Suitable For Virginia: Richmond, Sweetheart, Stella, Benton, Attika, Bing, Rainer, Montmorency
Fruiting Season: Early Summer
6. Fig (Ficus carica)
Fig trees are an exotic and appealing edible option for any landscape, with their decadent fruits and large, splayed green leaves. Despite their seemingly exotic nature, these trees are fairly easy to grow in the right conditions.
But before you consider the handsome fig tree for your property, keep in mind that these Mediterranean fruits grow best in warm climates with long hot summers and brief winters with minimal frost. While there is a good selection of fig varieties hardy enough to grow in zones 5 to 7, keep in mind that many popular fig varieties will not take to the Virginia climate unless you are planning to grow them indoors.
Once you’ve chosen the right fig trees for your property, it’s time to choose the right location. Fig trees need plenty of sunlight, a minimum of 6-8 hours per day, and well-draining slightly acidic soil.
Other Common Names: Common Fig, Sacred Fig
Growing Zones: 5-11
Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 feet tall, with a 10-15 foot spread
Varieties Suitable For Virginia: Celeste, Desert King, Chicago Hardy, Excel, Violette de Bordeaux, Kadota, Brown Turkey, Black Mission, Corky’s Honey Delight, Peter’s Honey, White Genoa, Olympian
Fruiting Season: Summer through Early Fall
7. Peach (Prunus persica)
Few home-grown fruits can compare with the peach, with its soft, blushing skin, sweet taste, and perfect juiciness. So fruit tree growers in Virginia will be pleased to know that these warm-weather loving fruit trees can thrive in every region of the state – with the right amount of care and attention of course!
Peach trees are beautiful, with their fragrant spring flowers, and their fruits are delicious, but they are not the simplest fruit trees to grow. They require full sunlight, with sandy, well-draining soil and plenty of added mulch. They should be planted at a slightly elevated height to provide air circulation and lessen the risk of frost damage. Peach trees also require a certain amount of pruning – you can consult the Penn State Extension for proper guidance on how to properly prune trees for optimum fruit yields.
Most peach varieties are self-fertile, so you will only need space for one, though an extra tree will help to ensure an abundant harvest.
Growing Zones: 5-9
Average Size at Maturity: 15-25 feet tall, with a similar spread
Varieties Suitable For Virginia: Redhaven, Golden Glory, Reliance, Contender, Madison, Veteran, Encore
Fruiting Season: Mid to Late Summer
8. Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)
The apricot is another fruit tree that provides delight to both the eyes and taste buds. It offers silky-skinned and sweet pale orange fruits and beautiful, delicate flowers that offer a very early floral display in spring.
Another Mediterranean fruit tree that needs plenty of warmth and sunshine, Virginia’s mild climate and hot summers are perfect for the apricot, which must be planted between growing zones 5 to 8 – which fits the VA growing zones exactly! Apricot-loving VA gardeners have a wealth of cultivars to choose from.
Still, be sure to add some frost protection in early spring as frost damage can kill apricot blossoms, as explained by the Utah State University Yard and Garden Extension. Plant your trees on an elevated site in rich, loamy, well-draining soil with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH, in a location with plenty of sunlight. Apricots are self-pollinating, so only one tree is needed for fruit production.
Growing Zones: 5-8
Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 feet tall, with a similar spread
Varieties Suitable For Virginia: Moorpark, Tilton, Harcot, Canadian White Blenheim, Blenheim, Harglow, Hunza, Brittany Gold, Tomcot, Puget, Golden Sweet, Goldenkist, Patterson, Perfection
Fruiting Season: Early to Midsummer
9. Serviceberry (Amelanchier)
Whether it is grown as a small tree or shrub, the native serviceberry is a fruiting tree that provides tasty fruits but is even more highly regarded for its aesthetic appeal. The serviceberry offers four seasons of interest, with its white spring blossoms, blue-green foliage, clusters of deep red and purple berries, brilliant fiery fall foliage, and the smooth bark and elegant growth habit that make their mark on the winter landscape.
These trees also grow in a range of climates, so you can expect to find plenty of options for serviceberry cultivars that grow in Virginia and suit your landscaping needs. Its fruits grow prolifically and can be eaten straight from the tree, or used in baking and desserts.
Most serviceberry varieties are low maintenance and highly adaptable, able to tolerate a range of soil types and rarely needing to be pruned or trimmed. They prefer moist, loamy, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH in a location with full sun to partial shade.
Other Common Names: Juneberry, Sugar Plum, Saskatoon, Sarvisberry, Wild-plum, Shadblow, Shadwood, Shadbush, Chuckley Pear
Growing Zones: 2-8
Average Size at Maturity: 5-25 feet tall, with a 4-15 foot spread
Varieties Suitable For Virginia: Allegheny, Autumn Brilliance, Apple, Canadian, Utah, Snowy Mespilus, Saskatoon, Juneberry, Common Serviceberry
Fruiting Season: Summer
10. Crabapple (Malus spp)
Like cherry trees, crabapples are known for their delicate and appealing flowers, so gardeners can choose both fruiting and ornamental varieties. These trees grow commonly in the wild in the eastern US, but there are plenty of attractive and delicious varieties that are cultivated in home gardens.
Many crabapple varieties look great in every season, due to their fragrant spring flowers, bright fruits, vivid fall foliage, and striking branching structure.
Keep in mind that crabapple trees are not the best choice for fresh eating – if you want to pluck them straight from the tree, consider a regular apple variety instead. Still, the crabapple fruit has its benefits – it can be used in several culinary ways, including pies, jams, preserves, and more.
Crabapple trees need plenty of sunlight to develop full flower and fruit production, as well as a more attractive and dense growth habit. Plant these flowering trees in rich, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH for best results.
Other Common Names: Crab, Crab Apple
Growing Zones: 4-8
Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 feet tall, with a similar spread
Varieties Suitable For Virginia: Red Sentinel, Butterball, Sun Rival, Evereste, Jelly King
Fruiting Season: Fall
Available at: Nature Hills
Choose Your Favorite Virginia Fruit Tree
When choosing a specific fruit tree variety, make sure you know exactly what hardiness zones it will grow in first. Some fruit trees will only grow in the northwestern and southwestern parts of Virginia (zones 5-6), and others in the rest of the state (zones 7-8a).
Whether you want to establish an orchard full of popular fruits such as apples and pears or branch out into more unique options like mulberries, serviceberries, and apricots, your options are open when planting fruit trees in Virginia.
And if these fruit trees haven’t fully whet your gardening appetite, consider these edible nut trees for VA or these five varieties of pecan trees that will produce in Virginia.
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Shannon has always loved looking after trees and plants since as long as she can remember. She grew up gardening with her family in their off-grid home and looking after her neighbor’s plant nursery.
As a child she also participated in native tree replanting, and as an adult has volunteered in reforestation programs in northern Vietnam. Today, she puts her horticultural efforts into tending her vegetable and herb gardens, and learning about homesteading and permaculture.
When she’s not reading, writing, and gardening, she’ll be out fishing and foraging for edible flora and fungi in the countryside around her home.