It’s hot outside in the Southwest Summer, even into the hundred and teens in places. No need to stop gardening – just do what folks “back East” do in January – do your fantasy gardening on paper! Plan your planting!
Fall is for Fruit Planting
Why Fall? Autumn is ideal time to plant anything, but especially trees. (Not just in the Southwest but in most of North America.) Fall is at the tail end of the heat of summer, when there is still warm temperatures and ample sunlight for plants to do some photosynthesis and feed themselves. They make food and thus have energy to grow new roots out into the soil. In the hotter areas of the Southwest, it’s also at least 8 months until it hits 100 degrees again. Lots of time to get roots down into the cooler soils below.
Which Fruit To Plant?
First of all – you have to call your County Cooperative Extention Office and determine “chill hours” for your location. You may want Elberta peaches, but if your area does not get enough chill hours, you can plant the tree, but you will NOT get the peaches.
The term chill hours is a specific number of total hours of temperatures between 45 and 32 degrees F. For example, Phoenix gets less than 200 chill hours, while a scant 2 hours away, Flagstaff gets 1000 chill hours. Averages of course. Plan for chill hours first.
Plan for Pollination
Plants will not produce fruit without having their flowers pollinated. Sometimes they can pollinate themselves (self-fertile), but sometimes they need a second plant (self-sterile). If you have a smaller yard, you will want to look at self-fertile plants.
Some fruits are commonly used as landscape plants. Who knows – you may already be growing some in your yard! Fruit to consider – depending on where you live in the Southwest: akebia, almonds (wrote about them – here), American chestnuts, apricot, Arizona fan palm, aronia, avocado, banana, Barbados cherry, barrel cactus, beautyberry, buffalo berries, Capulin cherry, chokecherry, Cornelian cherry, currants, desert hackberry, dragon fruit, figs, goji berries, gooseberry, goumi, grapes, guava (pineapple), guava (strawberry), guava (tropical), hazelnuts, honey berries, Hottentot fig, jaboticaba, lichi, maypop, mespilus (medlar), mulberry, nopalitos, passionfruit (wrote about them -here), peaches, pecans, persimmon (Texas), persimmon (northern), pine nuts, prickly pear, seaberries, strawberry, walnuts, and white sapote, and Ziziphus jujuba.
Now Start the Plan
Chances are you have never tasted pineapple guava, but they are a tasty fruit, with a mild pineapple flavor and the texture of a nectarine. Best of all, they are green when ripe, so the birds never get them before you do. The shrubs grow into a nice hedge or possible foundation planting. Flowers are fragrant and edible too.
Have fun! Look online or in catalogs from fruit tree nurseries. Read their descriptions and look at several pictures of the plant. Remember mature size, will it fit and look good in your landscape? Plan placement where the plants will look right in your yard.
Learn more about fruit gardening in our unique Southwestern region, consider this book: Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press), by the writer of this post – Jacqueline Soule. This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there we will get a few pennies at no additional cost to you. Your favorite Amazon Smile charity can also benefit.
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