Easy Fruit Tree Pollination Guide – Apple, Plum, Cherry and more!

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Many fruit trees will self pollinate, or receive cross pollination from neighbourhood bees doing their good work. Those trees will bear fruit even if we do nothing. But if we put a bit of attention towards ensuring our trees have a suitable pollination partner nearby (within 150m) we can increase our yields and often the size of each piece of fruit which means a bigger and better harvest for our efforts.

For Cherry, plum and apricot trees, please download our cross pollination guide below to get a better idea of which variety will cross pollinate with each other.

Cherry, Plum and Apricot Cross Pollination Chart

The Science of Pollination

Some plants go to great lengths to ensure they don’t pollinate themselves, after all, it is usually better for a species to keep their genetics diverse. Charts, graphs and the like make it seem like it only matters genetically which tree is compatible with another (and sometimes it does) but it frequently just comes down to timing – we generally need to know which trees are in bloom at the same time. Bees can’t cross pollinate two trees if one is in bloom two months after the first. They both need open and viable blooms at the same time for the job to get done. If you’d like to read more about the science details read this. While there is much to learn, we’re going to keep it simple so you can get better fruit by just following these tips:

Pollinating Pear trees

It’s easy to remember that Pears need to be planted in pairs. While there are some pear varieties which are self fruitful, their blooms don’t produce a lot of nectar and they only stay open for a short time making it difficult for bees to get their work done before the wind takes the blossoms away. Having two trees close to each other really improves your chances for fruit.

Pollinating Apple Trees

Most of the time, there will be another apple tree within range of the one you plant as apple trees are the most popular fruit tree to grow. Generally, apple trees can be cross pollinated with flowering crab apple trees which are grown for decoration over fruit. If you’re within city limits, you can most often just plant one tree and get fruit.

Troubleshooting your Fruit Trees

If your tree doesn’t produce fruit to your expectations there are several reasons for low yields in your fruit trees including:

Weather – a slow, damp and cool spring will keep the bees snug in their nests longer and it may mean there aren’t enough of them out and about when your tree is in bloom.

Cyclical fruiting – some trees will put out an abundance of fruit one year and then rest a bit the next before putting out another bumper crop the year after. It’s just the way they work and nothing to worry about. If you notice this pattern, you could plant a second tree in the ‘down’ year to hopefully get more fruit in the slow period.

No partner – if you live in a new development, maybe there isn’t a partner pollinator nearby? Some ornamental crab apples are sterile. You may need to plant another tree of the same genus (apples to apples, pears to pears, plums to plums etc.) for better results.

Not enough pollinators – usually a flowering apple tree will attract bees but planting other pollinator plants won’t hurt. Read 10 plants to grow for the bees and pollinators.

Self Pollinating Fruit Varieties

The following plants are self pollinating however will still benefit from a secondary pollinator close by for larger yields:

  • Grapes
  • Blueberries
  • Currents
  • Gooseberries
  • Josta berries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Goji Berries
  • Saskatoon Berries

Haskap Berries

Haskap varieties are much like apples in that they need a cross pollinator however, there is less of a chance of having one close by enough for pollination to occur. Because of this it’s best to plant a secondary bush. For ‘Borealis’, ‘Aurora’, ‘Tundra’ & ‘Indigo Gem’ use ‘Polar Jewel’/ ‘Berry Blue’™  or ‘Honeybee’.

Conclusion

Figuring out which fruit tree to plant as a cross pollinator can be confusing but it doesn’t have to be! Follow this easy fruit tree pollination guide and download the Plum, Cherry and Apricot pollination chart above to have all the info at your fingertips. If you have questions come chat with us in store! We’re happy to talk about getting you more fruit for your investment.

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Heather Eigler
Heather Eigler

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