The 21st century has shown us a lot of changes in gardening techniques. One of the best innovations for homeowners is how to make use of a small space to grow your own food. Today, homeowners can grow fruits in a small space by choosing dwarf cultivars of certain fruits. Some of the fruits listed here will even yield edible produce from potted patio plants. Dwarf fruit trees also add interest to the landscape and often scent your yard with fragrant blooms.
Many dwarf variety fruits are self-fertile. Be sure, though, to check with your nursery grower before making a purchase. Ask if your tree or shrub needs a second of either the same or a different variety to pollinate. Whether you intend to plant your tree in the ground or in a pot, be sure to choose a location with full sun and good drainage.
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The Cameron Select dwarf apple tree is a popular choice for home gardeners and also is resistant to fire blight, one of the biggest scourges of apples. Cameron Select is a dwarf variety of the popular Honeycrips apple.
This small tree grows to 8 to 10 feet in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 6. Bright red fruits ripen in September with white flesh that is sweet, crispy and juicy. You will need a second apple tree of a different variety to pollinate Cameron Select.
Apple trees are among the hardiest of fruit trees but, like most fruit trees, are susceptible to insect pests and diseases. Look for a variety with some disease resistance.
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A good cherry tree for back yard growers is a semi-dwarf (Prunus avium), in the Stella variety that uses a Colt rootstock. The Stella series, unlike most cherry trees, is self pollinating. Reaching 10 feet at maturity, this small tree produces dark red, sweet fruit. Cherries grow best in USDA Zones 5 to 9.
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Nothing says summer like biting into a ripe juicy peach. Belle of Georgia is an heirloom dwarf variety that does equally well in more northern zones, producing heavy yields of white fruits that show a rose blush when ripe. Belle of Georgia matures at 8 to 10 feet with fruit that is firm, sweet and juicy. This variety is self-pollinating.
Peaches, apricots, cherries, peaches, and plums are called "stone fruits" because the edible flesh grows around a hard pit or seed.
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An example of a dwarf plum tree cultivar is the Johnson Plum. It grows in zones 5 through 9 and typically reaches a height of 10 feet. Johnson has red skin and sweet red flesh. It does require a second plum tree of a different variety for pollination. If you have room for just one tree, grow an heirloom variety like Damson which is a self-fertile plum tree.
There are many varieties of dwarf plum trees including shrubs that bear edible fruit. The Natal plum (Carissa macrocarpa), is a shrub that grows to up to 8 feet and thrives best in the warmer climates of USDA zones 9 to 11.
In colder climates grow the beach plum (Prunus maritima), which is hardy to zone 3. The beach plum is a 6-foot bush that inhabits the sand dunes along the Atlantic Ocean.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Bananas do not actually grow on trees. The plants are herbaceous with a perennial rootstock, which means they are cut back to the ground each year after harvest then sprout again the following year. Bananas are the largest herbaceous plants in the world, but space-conscious gardeners should not let that worry them. There are small banana plants (Musa spp.) suited to small yards.
The dwarf Cavendish banana matures at 8 to 10 feet tall. and grows best in zones 9 to 10. The fruit is small at just 3 to 6 inches long but is sweet like its bigger cousins. The big, tropical leaves lend interest to the landscape and can be grown in pots indoors. Banana plants are self-pollinating.
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The dwarf Meyer lemon tree is one of the best varieties you can grow to produce citrus fruit in a small space. The orangish yellow fruits are rounder than other lemon varieties and the Meyer lemon produces a tart and slightly sweet flavor.
Meyer lemon trees grow to between 4 and 6 feet tall and are self-pollinating with fragrant white flowers. This tree is suited to zones 9 to 10, but does very well as a potted plant in colder zones. Just bring the pot inside during the colder months.
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The dwarf Calamondin orange tree is another citrus variety that does well as a potted plant. Even though the plant is hardy only to USDA zones 9 and 10, northern gardeners can overwinter potted plants indoors. The Calamondin orange is self-pollinating and grows 6 to 10 feet tall. The flesh is not as sweet as the flesh of full size orange tree varieties and is used more often for marmalade or in cooking instead of fresh eating. Like the Meyer Lemon, the Calamondin Orange also produces fragrant white blooms and is worth growing for its ornamenal value alone.
The orange tree citrus x sinensis is native to China. Many people wonder whether the fruit or the color first received the name, "orange." The fruit came first.
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If its the sweet, orangey-taste that you want from your citrus fruit, tangerines are a better bet than true oranges. Citrus reticulata is valued for flavorful fruit that is easier to peel and less messy to eat. Tangerine trees can grow to up to 25 feet but can be kept pruned to 10 feet and still produce fruit. Most tangerine trees are self-pollinating but check, before buying, to be sure you don't need two to produce fruit.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Fig trees are fairly easy to grow with attractive foliage and small green fruits that darken when ripe. Celestial is a dwarf variety bearing small sweet fruits. This variety grows up to 10 feet tall but responds well to pruning if a smaller plant is desired. Fig trees in the United States are self-pollinating and are best grown in pots where they can be moved to shelter during the colder months. They are hardy outdoors all year in USDA zones 8 through 11. The fig does have a chilling requirement, which means it must be exposed to temperatures of less than 45 F for 300 hours in order to produce fruit.
Fig trees work especially well in containers because the roots do best in a tight space. Keep this in mind when potting up your new tree as it grows.
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The Pomegranate is a deciduous plant variously referred to as a tree or a shrub. That is because specimens range from being 3 feet tall and bush-like to 20 to 30 feet tall and more tree-like. They are self-pollinating and suited to zones 7 to 10. Dwarf versions 8 to 10 feet tall are available, but their fruit is smaller. The seed of this fruit is the part that is eaten. Pomeganate seeds are a bit crunchy with a distinct sweet, tart flavor.
"Pomegranate" literally means "seeded apple" in Latin. Early Romans observed that the fruit looked like an apple from the outside but had many seeds inside.
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Almond trees need a warm climate to grow and even dwarf varieties don't often thrive well above USDA zone 8. One of these is the Garden Prince Almond, a semi-dwarf tree maturing at 10 to 12 feet tall. The tree is self-fertile and with judicious pruning can be kept as small as 8 feet. Almonds ripen in late September and early October.
Whether you decide to grow a small fruit tree for its foliage, fragrance or edible parts, it will pay to do a little research and talk to your nursery grower. Consider your space both indoors and out if you plan to keep your tree in a pot and overwinter it indoors. Regardless of your end goal, a fruit tree will always add beauty and interest to your landscape.