All About Self-Fertile Fruit Trees

Fruit From Your Garden Without Worrying About Pollination

Ripe apricot on apricot tree (Prunus armeniaca), Wachau, Waldviertel, Lower Austria, Austria, Europe
Martin Siepmann/Getty Images

In most temperate climate fruit crops, 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 get a good harvest.

Self-Fertile Fruit Trees

If you'd like to enjoy the luxury of fresh fruit from your 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 you are planting fruit trees in your garden, it is very important to know if the tree type is self-fertile or not. This will affect your tree choices and determine how many you need.The main consideration is to choose varieties that have the chilling requirements necessary to do well in your 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 in order to produce fruit, with both partners having 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 are able to pollinate themselves. Most apple tree varieties need a pollinator variety growing nearby to set fruit. Orchards interplant 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. If you have a Honeycrisp apple, you will need another apple or crabapple in the area for proper fruiting. This means that there needs to be space for additional trees. You can also scout out the trees in your neighborhood. Since ornamental crabapples are popular flowering trees, you probably don't need to worry too much.

Check with your local extension office or nursery for suggested varieties that are compatible with the variety you have chosen. Not all varieties are able to cross-pollinate.

You may want to consider planting additional varieties anyways. It can improve fruit set potential.

While not all varieties are self-fertile, the following fruit types generally exhibit that trait:

Other Fruit Trees That Are Self-Fertile

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 rootstock for pears.

Blueberries are self-fruitful but cross-pollination produces higher yields and larger fruit.