Fruit trees are a dual blessing – they look beautiful in your garden or on your property, and if you grow them properly, they’ll bear delicious fruits that you can enjoy for years to come.
When it comes to growing trees in Maine, there are more limitations on Maine fruit tree options compared to their southern counterparts (for example, MA will be a disappointing place for citrus lovers!). But there are still more than enough options to fill a home orchard.
If you’re looking to grow bountiful Maine fruit trees, your success is dependent on fruit species that can thrive in the right USDA hardiness zones. MA growing zones fall between 3b to 6a.
Remember that different areas of a state can come under different zones, so get well-acquainted with the zone you live in before you make any planting plans.
10 Great Fruit Trees to Plant in Maine
Round, ripe plums are desirable fruit to grow in Maine due to their abundance, bright colors, and rich sweet (and sour) flavors.
There are also plenty of European and Asian plum varieties that can be grown in zones 4 and 5, with a few Asian plums that can survive zone 3 temperatures under the right conditions.
However, there are some things you should keep in mind when choosing a plum variety. For example, European plums tend to be self-fruiting, while most Asian plums and hybrids need to be cross-pollinated. And if you are living in northern MA you may want to choose an American hybrid plum, as these do best in cold winters and are hardy to zone 3.
Thankfully, plums require little maintenance after planting. Pick a site that gets a minimum of 6 hours of full sun per day, and plant trees at least 20 feet apart. Plums prefer loamy, well-drained soil with plenty of organic materials.
Other Common Names: Wild plum
Growing Zones: 4-9
Average Size at Maturity: Standard varieties grow to 20-25 feet with 15-25 feet spread, with dwarf varieties growing around 8-15 feet
Varieties Suitable for Maine: Black Beauty, Early Golden, Green Gage, Alderwood
Fruiting Season: Between June – September (late winter to early spring)
The vibrant cherry is a fruit prized by humans and animals alike. They fall into three categories: sweet cherries, sour cherries, and duke cherries (a hybrid between sour and sweet).
Sour cherry varieties can withstand the lowest temperatures of all cherry varieties, although 4 is the lowest USDA zone any cherry tree will reliably grow in. While some sweet varieties are hardy in zone 5 and 6, spring frost in cold areas can kill flower buds before they fruit, according to the University of Maine Extension.
If you want to grow sweet varieties your best chance will be at the southern edge of the state. Rain can also split the cherry skins, so Maine growers should look for rain-resistant varieties.
Grow your cherries in a sheltered spot in well-drained, acidic soil. Keep in mind that cherries attract birds, so be sure to add netting to your fruiting trees to ward off hungry pests.
Other Common Names: Wild Cherry, Sweet Cherry, Sour Cherry, Tart Cherry
Growing Zones: 4-9 (4-6 for sour varieties, 7-9 for sweet)
Average Size at Maturity: Sweet cherry trees can grow between 20 – 35 feet tall and 20-25 feet wide, and sour cherry trees are between 10 – 20 feet tall with a similar spread
Varieties Suitable for Maine: Montmorency, Morello, Evans, Mesabi, Meteor, North Star, Attika, Benton, Black Gold, Hartland, Stardust, Regina, Schmidt, and Vandalay
Fruiting Season: Early to mid-summer
Pear trees are an excellent fruit tree option for Maine growers. Most pear varieties are hardy to zone 5 or higher, but there are also plenty of varieties hardy to zone 4 and even zone 3. No matter where you live in MA, you can grow a healthy pear tree in the right conditions.
Besides their ability to withstand low temperatures, pears are also relatively easy to grow, low-maintenance, and don’t require much space. They are also more resistant to disease, drought, and humidity. Full-sized pear trees should be planted around 20 feet apart in loamy, well-drained soil, and will need regular watering until they reach maturity.
It can take more than five years for your pear tree to produce a sizeable crop of fruit, but once it starts it can continue fruiting for up to 100 years!
Other Common Names: European Pear, Common Pear, Domestic Pear
Growing Zones: 3-10
Average Size at Maturity: 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide
Varieties Suitable for Maine: Clapp’s Favorite, Flemish Beauty, Golden Spice, Gourmet, Harrow Delight, Luscious, Maxine, Parker, Patten, and Seckel
Fruiting Season: Depending on the variety, pear trees can bear fruit anywhere between July through to September
What fruit-loving gardener hasn’t dreamed of picking a big bowl of their own ripe, sweet, and home-grown fuzzy peaches? Thankfully, if you live in Maine you’re in luck!
While most peach trees grow between zone 5 to 9, there are some varieties that are cold hardy to zone 4, meaning you can grow delicious peaches in most parts of Maine bar the northern tip.
Peaches favor elevated areas with full sunlight and air circulation. Choose well-drained, loamy soil, as waterlogged soil will kill your tree. Trees will need to be pruned and fertilized every year, usually in spring, and may need extra maintenance to avoid diseases and protect from pests.
Choose your peach variety carefully, especially where zone hardiness is concerned – many peach trees will die in temperatures that fall consistently below 10F, and they are highly sensitive to frost in their first year.
Other Common Names: Common Peach
Growing Zones: 4 to 9
Average Size at Maturity: 15 to 20 feet, with a similar range of width
Varieties Suitable for Maine: Canadian Harmony, Contender, Madison, Polly, Reliance, Redhaven
Fruiting Season: June to August, or mid to late summer
Apple orchards have long been a staple of the Maine landscape, so if you want to choose a safe fruit tree for your property you can hardly go wrong with these shiny red fruits.
While apple trees can grow anywhere from zones 3 to 8, there are plenty of varieties that are cold hardy, and fare decently well in zone 3, 4, and 5. Regardless of where you live in Maine, you’ll find an apple variety that works for you.
We recommend choosing varieties that are resistant to “apple scab,” one of the most common diseases that affect apple trees in cold climates.
Apple trees need around 6 hours of full sun per day during the summer and should be planted in moist, well-drained soil to avoid any chance of root rot. Choose an area with good air circulation that allows for fast drying after rain, as this will reduce the chances of fungal disease.
Other Common Names: Common Apple
Growing Zones: 3 to 8
Average Size at Maturity: 8 – 30 feet tall, including standard and dwarf varieties
Varieties Suitable for Maine: Beacon, Red Baron, Snow, Chestnut Crab
Fruiting Season: Between July and November
These fruits may not be as sought-after as their popular fuzzy cousins, the peach, but the nectarine is a tender, juicy stone fruit that is delicious in its own right.
Nectarines are so similar to peaches that they have roughly the same growing requirements, which is handy if you plan to grow both. The major difference is that they are less cold-hardy, so Maine growers in zone 5 and 6 will have the best chance of growing productive trees.
There are some varieties that are hardy to zone 4 but will likely need extra winter protection. All in all, they grow best in zones 6 to 8.
Nectarine trees can be high-maintenance, so may not be the best option for novice growers. Not only do they need wind protection but they also need a well-balanced pruning annually, and should be planted in well-drained soil with full sunlight and plenty of wind protection.
Growing Zones: 4 to 8
Average Size at Maturity: 12 to 15 feet with similar width
Varieties Suitable for Maine: Intrepid, Messina, Hardired, Stark honeyglo
Fruiting Season: Autumn
The small, sweet mulberry is an excellent Maine fruit tree due to its cold hardiness. They are hardy to zones 4 to 8, meaning they can grow, thrive, and fruit in most parts of the state.
North American mulberries are split into two types – the Morus rubus, native to North America, and Morus alba, native to East Asia.
Most mulberry varieties can grow in both full sun and partial shade, though some varieties are more shade tolerant. Depending on your landscape and desired taste some varieties will suit you better than others. Above all, avoid highly-invasive varieties, such as the white mulberry.
Mulberry trees are flexible in terms of soil type and pH levels and rarely need routine fertilization or pruning. In fact, they will often perform well in ‘adverse’ soil conditions, according to the University of Cornell’s horticulture section.
However, be very careful about where you plant these trees – their roots grow quickly and proliferate, and have been known to disrupt property foundations, driveways, sewage lines, and more. Give them plenty of space when planting.
Other Common Names: Silkworm Mulberry, Common Mulberry
Growing Zones: 4-8
Average Size at Maturity: 30-50 feet tall, similar in width
Varieties Suitable for Maine: Illinois Everbearing, Oscar, Gerardi Dwarf, Silk Hope, Issai
Fruiting Season: Early summer over 2-4 weeks (source)
These versatile Mediterranean fruits may be delicious, but they’re also great lovers of a warm, sunny climate. Thankfully, there are still some apricot varieties that will thrive in the humid Maine summer and survive the harsher winter weather.
But it’s important to know that while some apricot varieties are cold-hardy, they have a much shorter life in low temperatures. And because they are vulnerable to winter injury, it’s important to choose a variety that is cold-hardy and provides protection from cold snaps. MA growers in the south (particularly in zones 5-6) will have the best chance of a fruitful harvest.
Full sun, deep, well-drained soil, and plenty of compost or other organic matter are essential for successful growth. Soil with neutral or slightly alkaline pH levels is also desirable. During the fruiting and blooming season, provide your trees with an inch of water weekly for best results.
Due to the level of care, protection, and maintenance they will need, apricot trees are recommended for intermediate to expert growers in MA.
Other Common Names: Common Apricot
Growing Zones: 4-9
Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 feet tall, 20-30 feet wide
Varieties Suitable for Maine: Autumn Royal, Brittany Gold
Fruiting/Flowering Season: Summer, though specific times will change depending on the variety
While fig-lovers certainly can plant their favorite fruit in parts of MA, it isn’t an ideal tree for this climate. Native to Persia and Syria, figs favor a warm climate
Most fig varieties suit hardiness zones of 7-10 and are simply not suitable for the more frigid Maine weather. However, there are some cold hardy varieties that can grow and thrive in zones 5-7 if well taken care of.
You can further improve the survivability of your fig trees by planting them in containers and barrels to protect them from winter frost.
New fig trees are best planted in late fall or early spring. They prefer slightly sheltered areas with full sunlight and plenty of room, so if you are growing several trees make sure to plant them around 15 to 20 feet apart. Plant them in loamy, well-drained soil with extra organic matter.
Other Common Names: Common Fig
Growing Zones: 5 to 10
Average Size at Maturity: 10 – 30 feet tall and 10-30 feet wide
Varieties Suitable for (state name): Celeste, Chicago Hardy, Olympian, Peter’s Honey, Desert King
Fruiting/Flowering Season: Some trees can fruit as early as May, while others will fruit as late November depending on the area.
Though quince is the least-known fruit on this list, it is still a good option for fruit tree growers in MA. Quince trees produce lovely pink and white blooms in spring and bear pear-like fruit that can be used in jellies, drinks, and preserves.
According to the University of Maine Extension, many quince trees are hardy to zone 5, and some can even grow in zone 4, but be mindful of the variety that you choose, as some have exceptionally long growing seasons. Do not confuse it with the flowering quince, which is mostly ornamental and produces rock-hard fruits that require a lot of cooking to be edible.
For best results, the quince tree needs full sun with slightly moist, well-drained soil mixed with organic matter. They need to be well-watered every two weeks – if the soil is too dry these trees will perish within a few weeks.
Other Common Names: Quince tree
Growing Zones: 5-9
Average Size at Maturity: 12-15 feet tall, 9-12 feet wide
Varieties Suitable for Maine: Van Deman, Orange, Pineapple, Smyrna, Champion
Fruiting Season: most quince tree varieties will fruit in fall and winter, but in warmer climates, some varieties will fruit as early as spring
Tasty Additions to Your Maine Landscape
While there are many desirable fruit trees that can’t be grown in MA, due to the state’s unpredictable climate and frigid winters, there are still plenty of cold-hardy options that will provide you with delicious fruits for years to come.
This is particularly true in the lower third of the state, which falls under USDA zones 5a to 6b, allowing southern Maine growers to enjoy plentiful varieties of peaches and apricots which aren’t as easily grown further north of the state.
Many of these trees also bear beautiful blooms in spring, so with one specimen, you have the chance to grow lovely fruiting and flowering trees in Maine. Without a doubt, these trees will be a stunning (and tasty) addition to your property.
Fern discovered her love of gardening later in life but has not wasted any time catching up on missed years. She has contributed to the planting and care of over 100 different fruit, nut, native and ornamental trees over the past 5 years on her property.
Fern has a special interest in biodynamic farming, food production and closed loop agriculture.
When not in the garden or exercising her dogs, you will find her preserving the harvest or with her nose buried in a novel.