In most temperate climates, fruit crops and flowers have to be cross-pollinated. Pollen from a completely different variety has to transfer to the stigma of a given flower. If pollen from the same variety or the same plant lands on the stigma, the flower will not set fruit. This is a way of ensuring genetic variability. However, some fruit varieties can set fruit with pollen from the same tree or with pollen from the same variety. These are called self-fertile or self-fruitful varieties. In small home gardens, it is most convenient to only plant one kind of each fruit tree and still gets a good harvest.
Self-Fertile Fruit Trees
For those who'd like to enjoy the luxury of fresh fruit from their very own fruit trees but don't want the bother of worrying about pollination partners, then why not consider the many merits of self-fertile fruit trees?
When planting fruit trees in a garden, it is very important to know if the tree type is self-fertile or not. This will affect tree choices and determine how many trees are needed. The main consideration is to choose varieties that have the chilling requirements necessary to do well in a given climate.
Many varieties of fruit trees require a pollination partner, where a different variety of the same fruit species is used to cross-pollinate a tree to produce fruit. Both partners have to bloom at the same time and, sometimes, even requiring a little helping hand with pollination.
Fruit Trees That Are Self-Fertile
Not all fruit trees can pollinate themselves. Most apple tree varieties need a pollinator variety growing nearby to set fruit. Orchards inter-plant one or two pollinator trees in a given area and let the bees do the pollen transfer. Sometimes branches of the pollinator variety are grafted onto the crop trees here and there rather than planting a whole tree.
For example, many apple tree varieties are not self-fertile. For those who grow Honeycrisp apples, another apple or crabapple in the area is needed for proper fruiting. This means that there needs to be space for additional trees. Try scouting out the trees in the neighborhood. Since ornamental crabapples are popular flowering trees, there probably won't be a need to worry too much.
Check with the local extension office or nursery for suggested varieties that are compatible with the variety chosen. Not all varieties can cross-pollinate.
Consider planting additional varieties anyways. It can improve fruit set potential.
While not all varieties are self-fertile, the following fruit types exhibit that trait:
- Citrus trees
- Sour cherries
Persimmons are easy-to-grow fruit trees ideal for home gardens. They can survive a variety of soil conditions. Although they are self-fruitful, they will also cross-pollinate. Persimmon fruit from cross-pollination have seeds, but the fruit of self-fruiting trees are seedless.
The odd-shaped yellow quince fruit comes from small trees and shrubs with twisted branches. It is in the same plant family as pears, and gardeners use quince plants as a dwarfing root stock for pears.
Blueberries are self-fruitful, but cross-pollination produces higher yields and larger fruit.