Fruit Tree Pollination
All fruit trees will crop satisfactorily in an urban situation as insect pollination activity covers considerable distances.
Below is some useful information for all you need to know about pollination.
Look out for the Self Fertile symbol on our fruit labels. This means your tree will crop satisfactorily on their own. Each of the fruit groups have varieties that are self fertile, a few in apples, pears and cherries and all apricots, nectarines and peaches.
Look out for the Flowering Group symbols, flowers with numbers 1-5. Each of the fruit trees are divided into 5 flowering periods. This covers approximately a month from beginning of period 1 to the end of period 5. 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.
Particularly good pollinators are highlighted by our bee symbol. For more information on Bees, click here.
Triploid varieties are marked with this symbol in the fruit sections. To pollinate, they should be accompanied by two other non-triploid varieties that will also pollinate each other or one variety that is self fertile.
- Two trees of the same variety will not pollinate each other unless they are self fertile.
- 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
- For fruit trees to pollinate one another they need to be of the same type e.g both apples or both pears.
Apples & Pears
Follow the tips above for guidance for apples. Apples are regular croppers and Malus crab apples are excellent pollinators for fruiting apples.
Follow the tips above for guidance for pears. Pears prefer to have a warm sheltered position to set a good crop.
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. 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.
Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots, Almonds, Medlars & Mulberries
All varieties are self fertile so don't need a pollinating partner.
A few Quince varieties are self fertile. 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.
Malus Crab Apples
These are a very useful range of trees where many varieties will pollinate apples. Mostly all ornamental Malus are self fertile themselves, indicating how useful their pollen is for cross pollination.
Some fruit trees can produce a heavy crop one year followed by a much lighter crop the year after, this is known as ‘biennial bearing’ or ‘biennial cropping’. Traditional or ‘heritage’ varieties tend to be more biennial bearing than many modern varieties that have been bred to crop more regularly every year. Biennial bearing is a natural phenomenon as a heavy crop can exhaust the tree’s resources leaving it with insufficient energy to set much fruit bud for the following year.
It is possible to manage the tree to produce a more regular yearly crop by using the following methods:
- In the ‘on’ year thin the fruit before it ripens and summer prune before 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.