Fruit Fantasy – Plan for Fall

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.

Our readers in low and middle desert can plant a lovely shade tree – the carob. The beans make a tasty cocoa-like drink.

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.

Chill Hours?!

Fresh mulberry are incredibly sweet and delightful. They also make great jelly and syrup.

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

Fresh figs right off the tree have amazing flavor. Or you can make treats like fig bars and hamentashen – yum!

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.


Passion fruit vine has lovely flowers too. They are self-fertile – meaning you only need a single vine.

Fruit Wonderland

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.

Pomegranates have so many tasty uses!

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.

© Article copyright Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to can use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit. Also you must include a link back to the original post on our site. No stealing photos.

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