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Small Fruit Trees
There are many varieties of very small fruit trees now, including semi-dwarf, dwarf, dwarf, mini, and colonade trees. It would seem that you can grow fruit just about anywhere, but there are some catches to it.
Very often, you cannot find a good selection of varieties in the specialty smaller sizes. In fact, pears pretty much only come in standard, and semi-dwarf. Even those that do come in smaller sizes may have unexpected issues.
First of all, what do the sizes mean?
- Standard means a full sized tree that will generally grow over 12 feet tall. You CAN prune these down and keep them smaller, but only so much, and doing so will impede production.
- Semi-dwarf trees are usually a maximum of 12 feet tall. Again, they can be pruned to smaller sizes. A semi-dwarf gives about half the fruit of a standard sized tree.
- Dwarf trees generally have a maximum height of about 8 feet. They give somewhere around half the fruit of a semi-dwarf when properly cared for.
- Mini trees have a maximum height of about 6 feet, and will produce less than a bushel of fruit. Some are only 4 ft or less in height, and produce just a few fruits.
- Colonade trees are usually about 6 feet maximum height, and grow only a central leader, without large side branches. The fruit bearing spurs grow from the central leader. They produce just a small bucket of fruit.
Fruit trees often require two trees, sometimes of different varieties, to properly pollenate. So you may have only room for one tree, or you may not even be able to GET more than one variety in the size you need. Surprisingly, some tree companies sell trees that do not have viable pollenation sets, or which do not have them for your zone.
You'll have to select not just for preference, but for what will grow in your area. Zone charts are often inaccurate as well - our zone is listed as Zone 4, but it is more accurately Zone 3. Soft fruits require higher climate zones. Very few fruits go into Zones 3 and 2.
Fruit trees can be grown in a greenhouse, if you have sufficient ceiling height and space. Some people put them in large pots on wheels, to move them in and out. Others plant them in the ground in the greenhouse.
Miniature trees, such as orange, fig, and peach, may or may not actually produce usable fruit, depending on your area. They tend to NOT produce if grown indoors. They need to be out around the bees, and if they are not self-pollenating, you won't get anything from just one.
Apples are the most easily available trees, with the most varieties and greatest availability of special varieties for small spaces or difficult climates.
Stark is probably the best company for sheer varieties of fruit trees.