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Fruit trees with no fruit

The Coastal Gardener

July 02, 2010|Ron Vanderhoff

Do you have a fruit tree in your garden, but no fruit in your garden? You're not alone. I am amazed at how many gardens share this dilemma. Year after year, gardeners press on, hoping for some sort of magical fruit tree transformation.

Why do some fruit trees grow strong and healthy, but not fruit?

Reason No. 1: It's the wrong variety for the climate

By a long margin, I have found this to be the most common reason for big, healthy, green trees, but with no fruit. Fruit trees are very regional and particular about their climate. An Elberta peach is a great choice for Fresno, but will produce almost no fruit in a Newport Beach, Laguna Beach or Huntington Beach garden. A Flordaprince peach, intended for Miami, may do poorly here, due to the wrong rootstock for our soils. There are tangerine varieties for inland gardens and others for coastal gardens; likewise with figs, apples, nectarines, grapefruits and just about anything else you might want to bite into. Get some good advice. Regardless of the fruit, it is critical that you start with a variety well-suited to your garden's unique climate and soil.

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Reason No. 2: It's seed grown

This is incredibly common with avocados, because pits of particularly tasty avocados are easily planted. Twenty years later, the tree is enormous and beautiful, but has never produced a single fruit. Avocados, stone fruits, citrus and almost all other fruit trees are hybrid plants. They don't replicate the characteristics of their fruit through their seed. Not only is planting the seed a roll of the dice, but there is no rootstock under planting on a seed-grown tree. It's always best to buy a grafted, vegetatively produced tree from a reputable source.

Reason No. 3: It's too young

Many fruit trees may not produce fruit when young. The time between planting and bearing will vary with the tree type, variety and rootstock. This issue is especially true of trees like avocados, macadamias and several tropical fruits. Also, trees grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks generally will begin bearing a year or two earlier than their full-size cousins. Citrus usually bear fruit right away. Peaches and nectarines, which bear fruit directly on their branches, usually fruit within one to three years from planting. Apples, pears, apricots and plums, which set their fruit on little perennial stubs called spurs, may take three to four years to bear fruit. Avocados may take five to eight years.

Reason No. 4: It's unhealthy or too old

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