Understanding the micro-climate of your area in Alabama is vital before you begin to plant any fruit trees in your garden.
The north of the state at the foot of the Appalachian mountains experiences cooler temperatures whilst the southern counties, near the Gulf of Mexico stays warmer throughout the winter months.
Different fruit trees have different temperature requirements, with some trees needing a specific amount of chilling hours to flower and set fruit.
Read on for some different fruit trees you can plant in Alabama.
6 Fruit Trees You Can Plant In Alabama
1. Peach (Prunus persica)
Peach is the second most popular deciduous fruit tree in the US, and the official fruit of the state of Alabama. According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension Services, there are between 30-40 varieties of peaches grown in the state. If you’re in the southern part of AL, you’ll want to make sure you plant a peach variety that will flower despite the fewer chill hours.
The peach harvest in Alabama begins in May and carries on through August. To plant a peach tree in your yard, select a well-drained, elevated area with 8-10 hours of direct sunlight a day. If possible, ensure that you plant in loamy soil to avoid any puddles. If you aren’t sure which varieties to pick, then go for one with low to moderate chill requirements, such as Texstar or Flordaglobe.
Prune the tree to give it an open vase shape, with one strong leading branch and strong side branches. Thin out the interior branches to improve air circulation, sunlight penetration, and fruit production.
Other Common Names: Peachtree
Growing Zones: 4-9
Average Size at Maturity: 20-25 ft tall and 20-25 ft wide
Varieties Suitable for Alabama: Southern Pearl, Carolina Belle, and La White, Redhaven, Reliance, White, Sunhaven
Flowering Season: Early or Late Spring, depending on the tree’s chill requirements
2. Fig (Ficus carica)
Figs are native to the Mediterranean and southwest Asia and were introduced to the United States as early as the 1500s. Figs are deciduous, and do best in warm weather, though are hardy enough to survive some winter frost, should you want to cultivate them in the Northern counties of AL. In their native range prosper with hot, dry summers, and cool, wet winters or spring.
Ideally, figs should be planted in well-drained loam with plenty of organic matter, but they’ll tolerate average to poor soil conditions too. Figs have shallow, spreading root systems that make them drought tolerant. Fig trees should be watered regularly in the growing season. Bear in mind that rain will split open the fruit when it’s near maturity.
Other Common Names: Common Fig
Growing Zones: 8-10 usually but there are cold hardy varieties suitable for zones 6 and 7
Average Size at Maturity: 15-30ft tall and 15-20 ft spread
Varieties Suitable for Alabama: Celeste, Eastern Brown Turkey, LSU Gold, LSU Purple, Alma, Kadota
Flowering Season: N/A
3. Apple (Malus domestica)
Apples are the most common deciduous fruit tree grown in the United States, followed by peaches. Most of the apples grown in AL are spur-type apples, so are smaller in size and begin producing 2-3 years after planting. Apples are grown throughout most of AL, except for the extreme southeastern county of Houston. However, most of the apple production is found in the northern portion of the state.
If you’re planning on planting apples in the south of the state, makes sure you plant a variety that will flower and fruit without the lower temperatures needed by other varieties. Plant apple trees in full sun, in soil with good drainage.
Other Common Names: Common apple
Growing Zones: 3-8
Average Size at Maturity:15-20 ft tall and 15-20ft wide
Varieties Suitable for Alabama:
Northern AL: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Law Rome, Granny Smith
Middle of AL: Arkansas Black, Ozark Gold, Golden Delicious
Southern AL: Spur Grass, Brogden, Wiregrass
Flowering Season: Spring to Summer, depending on chilling requirements.
The majority of pears grown in AL are Asian varieties, which are resistant to a common pear-pest; the fire blight. Many of these varieties are self-pollinating, so you won’t need another tree for cross-pollination. Even still, the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service recommends planting at least two different varieties for optimal yields.
Pear trees can handle a wide range of conditions, including high heat, drought, and humidity, making them perfect for most areas of AL. They can’t tolerate wet feet and could succumb to root rot if subjected to it. Pears begin to ripen in July in southern AL and continue into September in northern counties.
Other Common Names: Common Pear
Growing Zones: 4-9
Average Size at Maturity: 20-30ft tall and 20-30 ft wide
Varieties Suitable for Alabama: Chojuro, Megeitsu, Early Asian, Doitsu, Kikusui, and Korean Giant
Flowering Season: Late February to mid-April
Much like peaches, persimmons thrive when the weather doesn’t drop much below freezing. Whilst California is the only state in the USA that grows persimmons commercially, they are well suited to be cultivated in many parts of AL.
Oriental persimmons are favored over American ones as their flavor is sweeter. American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is a favorite food of wildlife but isn’t as desirable for human consumption. Persimmons are adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions and are easy to grow in AL.
They’ll usually fruit within 3 years and a five-year-old tree can provide between 250-300 fruit. It’s recommended to give some support to the branches so they don’t snap from the weight of the fruit, and to keep the pruned to a manageable height so the fruit is easily harvested.
Persimmons have a dense-rounded crown, and ovate to pointed, shiny dark green leaves. The flowers are bell-shaped corolla. If you have space, planting multiple trees will ensure cross-pollination and a more bountiful harvest.
Growing Zones: 7-10
Average Size at Maturity: 20-30ft tall and 15-25 ft wide
Varieties Suitable for Alabama: Fuyu, Matsumoto, Wase Fuyu, and Fuyo Imoto
Flowering Season: Late spring/early summer
Sour cherries are more suited to the colder areas in the north of AL. They flower later in the year, and late frosts can kill off early-flowering varieties, such as many sweet cherries. Sweet cherries are best for areas where temperatures are mild and humidity is low. Sour cherries will grow in a cooler climate and need around 2 months of temperatures below 45 Fahrenheit.
Sour cherries have the added benefit of not needing another tree to cross-pollinate to ensure fruit production. Plant cherries in full sun and free-draining soil for best results. Sweet cherries grown in the south can easily succumb to bacterial canker.
Other Common Names: Wild cherry, Sour Cherry Tree
Growing Zones: 4-9
Average Size at Maturity: 12-18ft tall and 15-20ft wide
Varieties Suitable for Alabama: Montmorency, Early Richmond
Sweet cherries (Prunus avium) – Rainier Cherry, Bing Cherry, Van, Utah Giant
Flowering Season: Spring
The mild, mostly subtropical climate of Alabama allows the home gardener to grow a whole range of different fruiting trees. No matter whether you’re in the cooler northern regions or the steamier southern regions, there are umpteen different varieties of fruit trees you can grow.
Just bear in mind that many temperate fruit trees will have specific chilling hours before you commit to anything.
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Thomas worked for a number of years as the head of plant propagation for a horticultural contractor taking care of many different species of ornamental trees & shrubs. He learned how to propagate certain endangered endemic species and has a love of permaculture, sustainability and conscious living. When Thomas isn’t hiking in nature he can be found playing music, reading a book, or eating fruit under a tree.