Oregon has a variety of climates perfect for a wide range of fruit trees. This guide will go over the best fruit trees and vines to grow in Oregon.
All of the following recommendations are listed:
Fruit Tree: Variety(Required Chill Hours)
In the case of both apple and pear tree varieties, it is important that you select a variety that requires a lot of chill hours. Otherwise, late-season frosts have a high chance of damaging flowers and affecting fruit set.
It's no secret that Oregon offers some of the best Pear and Apple growing territory in the United States. The cooler climate provides adequate chill hours for many of your favorite varieties. Some of the best pome fruit growing area includes the Willamette Valley, Mid-Columbia Valley & Milton-Freewater area. Choose a nice sunny spot in the yard that ideally receives 8+ hours of sunlight per day and has well-draining soil. Planting is simple, prepare your planting area with well-draining soil, dig a hole the same depth as the container of your tree, and plant so that the top of the root ball is flush with the soil level. Once planted you can top dress with a healthy dose of compost and mulch, making sure to leave space around the base of the tree to prevent stem rot.
Pests and diseases plague apple trees so regular maintenance and spraying will be necessary for a good harvest. Apple trees should be pruned every winter/spring. They can be pruned to a variety of shapes and sizes depending on grower preference. The point of the process is to create airflow by removing crowded or damaged limbs, this will also allow more even light penetration, regulate the fruiting area, and improve the overall health of the tree. It is important that you protect your trees during the intense summer sun with some kind of shade structure or treat your tree with tree paint / foliar spray like IV Organics.
Pears thrive in Oregon. So much so that the Pear is actually the state fruit! Both European & Asian pears have their unique flavors and textures. Pears tend to have more strict pollination requirements, so keep that in mind when choosing the right variety for your home orchard. For planting/maintenance guidance, follow the instructions listed above for apples as the steps will be the same. Pear trees also suffer from many of the same pests/diseases that plague apples so regular care will be necessary to keep your trees and surrounding trees healthy.
Cherry trees are a great piece of fruit to grow in the home orchard but selecting varieties with 700+ chill hours requirements will be important if you do not want your crop damaged by late freezes. To plant your tree, find a nice sunny location in the yard that receives 8+ hours of full sunlight per day and ideally a place in the yard with good drainage. Cherry trees are no easy feat as they take a good amount of protection if you want any of the bird's cherries for yourself. Between pests, birds, and disease, cherries need a regular schedule of spraying, pruning, and feeding if you want a good crop. Some growers also use nets to keep the larger pests out of your fruit trees. Stone fruit trees should be pruned to an open center to allow for airflow and more even ripening. That said, every grower has their preference, and trees can be pruned to any shape.
Plum trees are a classic selection for the Oregon garden. Not only do they produce wonderful fruit but they also produce a spectacular-looking tree full of beautiful blooms in the spring. These lovely stone fruit trees prefer warm summers and cool winters so our inland growers should have no problems, but growers near the coast may have issues with excessive rainfall impeding fruit set. Plant your tree in a sunny part of the yard with well-draining soil and prune it to an open center to get your tree started. A regular watering schedule and feeding during the fruiting season will provide your tree with what it needs to succeed. A thick layer of mulch around the tree(leaving a few inches around the base to prevent collar rot) is a great way to improve soil quality around the tree as well as act as a layer of insulation during extreme temperatures.
Growers from Central to Eastern Oregon should have had great luck with peaches & nectarines in the home orchard due to their warm summers. Coastal and Western Oregon growers can have issues due to the excessive moisture impeding fruit sets and encouraging fungal diseases. The cool winters provide adequate chill needed for a good fruit set and the summer sun sweetens the fruit perfectly. You will have the same struggles as plums when it comes to disease and pest issues, so regular maintenance will be required. Variety selection will be key to your success in this area as choosing varieties that bloom too early will likely be damaged by late spring rains.
Persimmon growers in Oregon state have lots of success with Asian persimmon varieties both for their cold-hardiness and self-fruitful characteristics. These trees are adaptable to a variety of soil types and are drought tolerant once established. The heavy-bearing trees tend to be biennial-bearing due to heavy crops. Seasonal pruning and fruit thinning will help limit fruit production and overbearing. These long-living trees grow a deep taproot which makes them generally larger trees and poor choices for container growing. Luckily the Asian varieties tend to produce smaller, more manageable trees. Hybrid varieties like Coffee Cake or Chocolate Persimmons are extremely delicious and just as easy to grow but make sure you have the space for two much larger trees since they do need a pollinator and tend to grow larger than Fuyu.
The Jujube is an ancient tree that is just starting to make its way into US gardens. The Jujube, also known as the Chinese date, has sweet, green/reddish-brown blotchy fruit that tastes almost apple-like in flavor and texture. They can be dried into a date-like treat that is chewy and sweet. They are extremely precocious and bear lots of fruit. Growing Jujubes in Oregon is a piece of cake as these trees are heat tolerant(over 100°F), cold-tolerant(down to -10°F), and virtually pest and disease-free. The Jujube is also drought-resistant and is adaptable to a variety of soil types. Long hot summers are required to ripen the larger varieties like GA 866 Jujube & Shanzi Li Jujube so keep this in mind when selecting the right Jujube for your backyard.
Growing fig trees in Oregon can be done in the ground or containers. The main thing to consider when deciding how to grow your fig tree is winter temperatures. Fig trees are cold tolerant down to about 5-10°F depending on the variety and age of the tree, but sub-zero temperatures will certainly cause dieback and can even kill your tree. Protecting your tree with a thick layer of mulch insulation just before the cold weather arrives will help protect the base of the tree and roots. There are even pruning methods to grow the tree very close to the ground so that they can be easily covered and protected during extreme weather. It is expected to see some dieback from frost damage in late winter/spring. Even if the tree dies back to the base, the roots will send up shoots that are true to type as they are propagated from cuttings. Winter frost damage can be avoided by growing your tree in a container and bringing the tree inside when you see that temperatures are going to drop.
Grapes can be grown throughout the state of Oregon, but proper winter protection is necessary to prevent damage or death of your vine during extreme cold. Like most fruit trees and vines, grapes prefer well-draining soil. They are also semi drought tolerant and have low water and fertilizer needs. Pruning plants in late winter/early spring will regulate tree growth and promote the overall health of the vine. Keep in mind when pruning that grapes are produced on spurs grown on one-year-old canes and be sure not to remove all of your fruit spurs. Pests and fungal diseases will be your biggest threat as they are typically brought on by a damp climate. A regular maintenance/spraying schedule will need to be set in place to produce a good crop. Maintenance will include pruning, cleaning up dead leaves, and any residual fruit left after harvest.
Pomegranates are hands down one of the easiest trees to grow period, but be mindful of your grow zone as growers in the north will need to protect their trees from late frosts if you expect beautiful flowers and fruit. They require a fairly low number of chill hours to fruit, low water, and fertilization needs and they are self-pollinating. This drought-tolerant tree is also very adaptable to a variety of soil conditions. It's almost harder to kill one of these trees than it is to grow one. They can be grown as trees or bushes depending on the pruning style. A mature tree will be covered in beautiful flowers in the spring that will slowly grow into wonderful red fruits as the season progresses.
Cane berries perform extremely well with the warm summer climate across most of the state. There are two main types of cane berries, Some grow on erect canes that don't require trellising and others are trailing canes that do require trellising. Other than a possible trellis, maintaining Raspberries and Blackberries is relatively easy. They require minimal water and feeding once established, some light pruning of the frost-damaged limbs in the spring will help keep your vines healthy and regulate growth. You want to give your vines the best chance at success by planting your vine in well-draining soil and or by amending your existing soil with a 50/50 mix of compost and potting soil.
Growers from the Willamette Valley to the Coast should have no problems with growing olive trees outdoors. The main goal here is to protect your tree from any temperatures that fall below 15°F. If you are worried about winter temperatures damaging your new tree then consider growing your olive tree in a container so that you can bring the tree indoors for winter. These are drought-tolerant trees that love warm weather but can't stand the cold. The ideal planting location is a spot in the yard with well-draining soil, a nice south-facing location that gets a full 8+ hours of sun per day. Growers in the central and eastern regions of Oregon can also enjoy a lovely olive tree so long as they the guidance above and grow in a container that can be brought indoors by a nice sunny window for the winter if temperatures drop below 15°F as these temps will damage your tree. Check out our Olive Tree Growing Tips for more information.
Citrus Trees: All Citrus(Indoor/Outdoor)
Growing citrus in Oregon can be done with lots of success. Citrus trees are tropical plants that love heat and humidity so simulating the right conditions will be tough but is not impossible. Citrus trees are only cold hardy to about 25-30°F depending on the variety so they need to be protected during the colder months and brought indoors. This is exceedingly important for growers in the northeast. Thankfully Citrus trees in general are one of the few types of trees that do exceedingly well in containers. Lemons and Limes are the more cold-tolerant of the citrus family making them a great choice for an indoor/outdoor tree and will produce nearly year-round under adequate conditions. Follow our indoor citrus growing guide/pdf for more instruction on how to do this successfully. If you are growing along the southern coast, you may be just warm enough for outdoor growing year-round.
Plant your citrus tree in a location that receives 8+ hours of sunlight per day. Like most of the trees on this list, well-draining soil is very important. If you have hard clay soils, amend your soil and or create a mound above the native soil prior to planting. Protection from intense heat in the summer can help prevent your tree from sunburn. This can be done with the use of shade cloth or with IV Organics tree paint and foliar spray.
Protect your fruit trees from the hot summer sun and winter cold with Plant Gaurd tree paint and foliar spray.
Protect your fruit tree roots from rodents with Root Guard gopher baskets!
Author: Israel Osuna