Fruit Trees | Portland Nursery (2023)

Do you envision yourself strolling out to the yard to harvest fresh fruit for tonight’s salad or canning giant batches of apple sauce made from apples you grew yourself?

Portland’s mild climate allows for many kinds of fruit and nut trees to be grown. Apples, Figs, Plums and Hazelnuts are just a few of the trees Portland Nursery offers every spring.

Orchard Planning

Our selection of fruit trees changes every year, so we post lists annually to help with planning. The lists are based on orders that are confirmed by our growers, so they reflect our best estimate of what to expect. However, we don't always receive what is confirmed - there are often changes in root stocks and crop failures can occur. Only after orders arrive are we certain of our stock.

Fruit trees, berries and small fruits begin to arrive in February, and trickle in weekly through winter.

We plant all of our fruit trees in pots, and do not offer bare-root fruit trees.

** Crop failures may cause shortages and we cannot guarantee all varieties to be available. Our fruit trees arrive mainly in February-March, and often sell quickly. Please call ahead to confirm stock.

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Most fruit trees require pruning to establish good structure and enhance fruit quality. A well-pruned tree allows air and light penetration, which help with disease prevention and fruit ripening. Informed pruning can also encourage a sturdier branch structure that’s easier for you to access, for maintenance and harvest.

Different types of fruit trees require specific pruning practices due to their growth and fruit bearing habits. Please refer to the table in our handout for specifics. A good book on pruning and training will be an invaluable aid in this ongoing project.

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Most fruit-bearing trees and shrubs require pollination to develop fruit. that blooms at the same time; this usually means you need a second tree But some trees are self-fertile or self-fruitful.

This means that they require only one tree to be planted in order to bear fruit, either because they may accept their own pollen (pie cherry, European plums), or can bear fruit without pollination (figs, persimmons). Trees that are self-pollinated will usually bear more heavily if they get a boost from a partner.

Check the information about the fruit you’re interested in to find out about its pollination needs. It may vary from variety to variety!

Most fruit trees are pollinated by insects that carry the pollen from one flower to another, including mason bees. A few are wind-pollinated, like filberts, walnuts, and some mulberries. Creating habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects can increase your pollination rate and make your garden more beautiful!

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As with people, the first line of defense against disease in plants is good hygiene. Making sure that they have good air circulation and sun penetration, removing old fruit that’s hanging at the end of season, raking up any diseased leaves or fallen fruit from the ground, and laying mulch are all ways to help keep a tree in good shape.

Our cool, wet springs can make trees prone to a number of fungal and bacterial problems. Get to know the specific needs and weaknesses of your trees, so you can monitor for common problems and address them early. Sprays can be a useful tool, but you want to know what you’re spraying for so you can know when it will be effective.

It’s the same with insect pests – know your opponent. Organic solutions are specific to the type of fruit and the insects in question.

We offer care schedules for several common types of fruit that will guide you through the orchard year.

  • Your Organic Orchard for planning.
  • Apple and Pear Care Schedule
  • Organic Apricot, Nectarine and Peach Care Schedule
  • Organic Cherry Care Schedule.

Trees naturally have a range of mature sizes, from the tiny 5-6’ tall genetic dwarf peach tree to the colossal 60’ chestnut. Not all of these will fit in an urban garden! Choosing smaller trees, like bush cherries, quince, or jujubes, is one approach to fitting fruit in. And then there’s the horticultural magic of rootstocks.

Most fruit trees are grafted, in order to get predictable fruit. Growing a tree from a piece of an existing tree is the only way to get a Gala apple or a Rainier cherry. The roots they are grafted onto are called rootstocks, and these are selected for a number of things, including their influence on the tree’s mature size. Apples have the greatest range of rootstocks available -- they are available on miniature, dwarf, semi-dwarf and standard root stocks that result in trees anywhere from 6’ to 35’ tall.

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Make sure when you are purchasing fruit trees to choose sizes that fit your available space. The diagrams linked to below can give a sense of the relative sizes of various rootstocks we’ll be seeing in our fruit trees this year.

Download our Apple Tree Rootstock Size Diagram
Download our Cherry Tree Rootstock Chart
Download our Pear Tree Rootstock Size Diagram

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“My peach seems to be diseased; it has curly, blighted-looking new leaves. What is going on?”

Peaches in our area are highly susceptible to a fungal disease called peach leaf curl (Taphrina deformans). The fungus, which can overwinter on bark, in buds, and on fallen leaves, infects leaves when they are consistently wet for over 12.5 hours and the temperature is below 61° F.

This distorted foliage eventually drops off the tree, draining the energy of the plant. Once the symptoms show, control is difficult, even with fungicides. Repeated defoliation can eventually kill the tree.

Dormant sprays in the fall and again in spring (before any flowers open) with copper-based fungicides can help protect the plant and prevent further progression. Also, clean up under the plant in the fall and winter, and avoid excessive wetting of leaves or too much shade.

Because this disease is difficult to treat, your best bet is avoiding it! We offer varieties of peaches that are resistant to peach leaf curl, though it is still a good idea to spray them for their first couple of years for protection. For another approach, the genetic dwarf peaches are small enough that they can grow in containers; if they’re pulled under cover when it’s rainy and chill, they are likely to escape the disease.

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"My cherries sprouted leaves, but then the new growth and blossoms died off, and some of the twigs are dying back. The dead flowers are just hanging there. What is going on?"

This was a common one in spring of 2019! The fungal disease known as Brown rot blossom blight (Monilinia fruticola) can infect flowering and fruiting cherries, plums, and peaches when the air-borne fungus is present, the temperatures are moderate, and the leaves/blossoms are moist. You might note that that describes Portland in springs.

This disease can be deterred by pruning out infected branches or fruit in summer (when they’re obvious), avoiding nitrogen fertilizer, and cleaning up thoroughly after autumn leaf fall. There are fungicides that are available to help control the problem if sprayed during and just after blossom.

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"What’s eating my leaf!? There are tiny round holes in most of the leaves of my cherry tree, but I don’t see any bugs on it!"

Shothole fungus, also called Coryneum blight, causes spotting on infected leaves, which can be easy to overlook. But as it progresses, the dead material in the middle of the spot drops out, leaving a tidy round hole, often with a pale halo around the outside. It looks like someone has gone berserk with a tiny paper punch!

As the infection spreads, it can infect twigs as well. Look for lesions (dark, sunken spots) on the bark, or gummosis (oozing goo). If you can, prune off these infected twigs.

The spores of this fungus spread by water, and infect leaves when there is consistent moisture and a temperature over 36° F. This emphasizes the importance of pruning and siting your tree for good air circulation and sun penetration so that leaves can dry! Also, be sure that sprinklers don’t spray the leaves of flowering and fruiting cherries, flowering and fruiting plums, peaches or nectarines.

FAQs

What is the best month to plant fruit trees? ›

The ideal planting time is December through March when nurseries stock bare root fruit trees. The best spot in your garden for a fruit tree gets at least 6 hours of sun, is out of the wind, and can be easily watered.

What is the fastest fruit tree to grow? ›

Plum trees not only have delicious fruit, they also produce spring blossom that looks pretty and helps wildlife. 'Plum trees are the fastest growing fruit trees,' says Karim Habibi, co-owner of Keepers Fruit Nursery (opens in new tab) in Kent.

Can you buy 3 year old apple tree? ›

You can buy trees and train them yourself or purchase ready trained 2-3 year old trees. Stepovers have been cultivated since Victorian times and are the very smallest of all fruit trees. Apples perform particularly well but you can also grow pears, plums + gages in this way.

How tall is a 2 year old fruit tree? ›

Nearly all our trees are 1 or 2 years old, the best age for successful establishment. At this age most fruit trees are between about 4ft-6ft tall (1.5m - 2m), and some of the rootstock influence can already be seen in the relative sizes.

When should you not plant fruit trees? ›

Summer and winter aren't ideal times for planting fruit trees. It's possible to plant from seeds, but the tree will not be the same as its parent. Once a tree is 1–2 years old, it can take 2–6 years or more to bear fruit.

How many years do fruit trees take to grow? ›

Planted in a sunny spot with good drainage, you can expect them to fruit in 3–4 years.

What fruit produces the first year? ›

Some strawberry (Fragaria spp.), raspberry and blackberry (Rubus spp.) varieties are among the plants that bear fruits their first year.

Will burying an apple grow a tree? ›

It is possible to grow an apple tree from an apple seed. However, in most cases, apple trees don't come true from seeds. For example, a seed taken from a Red Delicious apple will not produce a Red Delicious apple tree. Seedling apple trees are genetically different and usually inferior to the parent tree.

Do I need two apple trees to get fruit? ›

Apples are self-unfruitful. Plant at least two different apple tree varieties within 50 feet of one another for a good fruit set. Some apple varieties, such as Golden Delicious, will produce a crop without cross-pollination from a second variety.

Should fruit trees be planted in spring or fall? ›

When it comes to planting fruit trees, there is no better time than fall for putting them in the ground! Although fruit trees can be planted at any point throughout a growing season, autumn provides numerous advantages versus spring and summer.

What month are apple trees planted? ›

Planting Time

In cold northern climates, spring is the best time to plant apple trees. In areas where winter is less severe, early spring or late fall planting is recommended.

Do you have to plant 2 fruit trees to get fruit? ›

Most fruit trees require pollination between two or more trees for fruit to set. Pollination occurs when the trees blossom. Pollen from the anthers (the male part of the plant) has to be transferred to the stigma (the female part of the plant). Completed pollination fertilizes the tree and fruit grows.

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