Fruit Tree Pollination

The subject of pollination is often made unnecessarily complicated. All fruit trees will crop satisfactorily in an urban situation as insect pollination activity covers considerable distances. However, if your garden or orchard is in an isolated area then the following information could be helpful when selecting varieties:

  • Look out for the SF symbol on our fruit labels. This means ‘SELF FERTILE’ and your trees will crop satisfactorily on their own.

  • In other cases for fruit trees to pollinate one another they need to be of the same type e.g both apples or both pears.

  • Two trees of the same variety will not pollinate each other unless they are SF.

  • For trees to cross-pollinate they need to be the same or adjacent flowering group, e.g. an apple tree of flowering group 3 will cross-pollinate with those of groups 2, 3 and 4.

  • Always bear in mind that crop yield will be affected by adverse weather and in these circumstances it is helpful to have several different varieties that provide strong and ample pollen for cross pollination opportunities.
  • It is quite normal for trees to have a light cropping year after a heavy one – like us they need a rest after a big effort. See more on this below under Biennial bearing.

  • Particularly good pollinators are highlighted by our bee symbol.

 Self-Fertile  Flowering Group  Good Pollinator


Apples & Pears

Follow the tips above for guidance for apples and pears. Apples in particular are regular croppers and Malus crab apples are excellent pollinators for apples and are mostly SF themselves – see below. Pears prefer to have a warm sheltered position to set a good crop.


Triploid varieties are poor pollinators for other varieties, they are identified by this symbol in our catalogue and on our labels:


They should be accompanied by two compatible varieties that pollinate each other, or one self-fertile variety that flowers at the same time as the triploid.

Plums, Gages, Damsons and Mirabelles

Most varieties are self fertile. The few which aren't are unlikely to need a pollinator unless planted somewhere very remote.


Most good garden varieties are self-fertile. Due to pollen incompatibilities pollination of non self-fertile varieties is not obvious so for clarity we have listed some combinations below. All self-fertile varieties are known as 'Universal Donors' in that they will pollinate any other cherry trees that flower at the same time, so if unsure then just include at least one self-fertile variety in your garden. Sour cherries, such as Morello and Meteor Korai, are all self-fertile, they can pollinate sweet cherries but sweet cherries will not pollinate them.

Bradbourne Black Pollinated by Sunburst
Colney Pollinated by Stella or Sunburst
Early Rivers Pollinated by Merton Glory, Stella or Noir de Guben
Kordia Pollinated by an SF variety, Penny or Regina
Merchant Pollinated by Lapins, Merton Glory and Noir de Guben
Merton Glory Pollinated by Stella or Sunburst
Noir de Guben Pollinated by Colney, Merton Glory or Early Rivers
Penny Pollinated by any Self Fertile variety
Regina Pollinated by any SF variety, Penny or Kordia
Sylvia Pollinated by Celeste or Regina
Van Pollinated by Lapins or Vega
Vega Pollinated by Lapins or Stella


Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots, Almonds, Medlars & Mulberries

All varieties are self fertile.

Malus Crab Apples

Crab apples blossom profusely and often for longer periods than other apples so they make excellent pollinators. Of particular use are Golden Hornet, Evereste, Golden Gem, Red Sentinel and Butterball. They are all self-fertile.


Self-fertile varieties include Vranja, Aromatnaya, Meech's Prolific and Serbian Gold. Other varieties may need to be accompanied with a pollinator.


Broadview and Buccaneer are the two self-fertile varieties we would recommend for gardens. Other varieties are likely to be partially self-fertile and would benefit from nearby pollinators. Walnuts are pollinated by wind rather than insects so bear this in mind when choosing your site.


Hazels will crop better if varieties are mixed together but due to the abundance of hazels in the wild good crops usually appear. Like walnuts, pollination is mostly carried in the wind.

Biennial bearing

This problem is not uncommon in more traditional or heritage varieties. An overset in the ‘on’ year exhausts the trees resources and it does not have the energy to set fruit bud for next year’s crop, don’t forget that next year’s blossom is forming in the previous July and August just when the current crop is ripening –its all too much for the tree! So the remedy is as follows:

  • In the ‘on’ year thin the fruit and summer prune the tree heavily and well before mid July.

  • Following an ‘off’ year heavily prune in the winter to reduce the likely heavy forthcoming crop.

  • Repeat either of these remedies as necessary until the tree settles into an annual cropping habit.


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