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Best Fruit Trees for Austin
Certain fruit trees are capable of thriving in Austin’s plant hardiness zone, which is designated as an 8b. Below is a list of the most common fruit trees in Austin and the ones that are most likely to survive and bear fruit in Central Texas. However, if you have an old or dead fruit tree, it’s best to have the tree removed by a tree removal specialist in Austin to prevent it from damaging the ecosystem in your yard. That said, there are plenty of fruit trees that will thrive in Austin’s climate! Let’s dive into those below.
Persimmons might not be the most popular fruit to eat, but persimmon trees are some of the easiest fruit trees to grow in the Austin area. These small trees are well-adapted to drought and can persist even through prolonged drought conditions that commonly plague Texas. They also prefer hot climates and full sun, so the environment in Austin is ideal.
Persimmon trees regularly drop some of their harvests early, which can be a bit frustrating. Early fruit drop is triggered most commonly in Austin by extreme temperatures and prolonged drought, but some homeowners unwittingly trigger it by over watering.
Fruit drop can be an issue because some persimmons need to remain on the tree until the fall when their taste has matured and become less astringent. The abundance of tannins in young persimmons makes them unpalatable, so you’ll have to deal with quite a bit of wasted harvest before you get to the edible fruit. The early fruit drop can be an issue for some homeowners because it often attracts squirrels.
While persimmon trees might attract rodents, they don’t tend to attract tree pests or many tree diseases that are prevalent in Central Texas. Their hardiness is, in part, what makes them so easy to grow in Austin. Most homeowners make sure that the trees are mulched and watered appropriately and do little else to ensure a good harvest.
Figs are another very popular fruit to grow in Austin because fig trees are very hardy and can stand up well to the extreme weather conditions in Texas. They prefer warm weather and can handle the summer heat, and they’re capable of thriving even in drought conditions. They aren’t too picky when it comes to soil quality, so most of the heavy clay and non-alkaline soil in Austin will suit them nicely.
Most fig trees require fewer than 350 chilling hours annually, which is about half of what most of Austin gets each year. As such, frost protection will be necessary during the first few years of growth until the tree is mature. In most cases, heavy mulching is sufficient to protect young fig trees, but the cold might kill your tree anyway, even if your local nursery has grafted the fig tree into a heartier rootstock to get it started.
The good news is that once your tree is established, it will be hardy enough to stick it out through Austin’s winter season and will no longer need frost protection. However, mulching around the base of the tree is still a good idea even after it reaches maturity.
Several fig varieties are better suited than others for Austin’s hot summers, cooler winters, and frequent issues with drought. The varieties best suited for growth in Texas include Celeste, LSU Purple, and the aptly named Texas Overbearing fig tree.
Many Austin homeowners are delighted to find that certain varieties of apple trees can do well in Austin. Apple trees need what is referred to as a medium chill, which means the plants require a relatively moderate period of cold temperatures each year to bear fruit and thrive.
All of the varieties of apple trees require different chill cycles. Some of the best apple trees to grow in Austin include Anna, Pink Lady, Gala, Fuji, Mollie’s Delicious, and Crispin apples. All of these trees need between 400 and 600 hours of chill annually, which most of Austin can provide.
Apple trees can struggle in Austin during hurricane season. Even though the city is located far enough inland where it doesn’t receive the worst of the weather, strong winds from hurricanes and tropical storms can easily push over even mature trees. Apple trees spread their roots at unusually shallow depths, usually within just 2 feet of the surface. This makes them prone to toppling over, and bracing might be required during hurricane season in Austin.
Most apple trees need a pollinator, which is a different variety of apple tree in order to bear fruit. Crabapple trees are commonly used for cross-pollination, but not all types can survive in the Texas heat. Two standard options for pollinators in Texas are the Southern crabapple and the Blanco crabapple.
Finally, apple trees are reasonably hardy when it comes to diseases and pests, but there are some fungi and bacterial infections that can destroy your apple tree. One of the most severe issues in Texas is Cotton Root Rot, also referred to as Texas Root Rot. Keeping your apple tree unstressed, adequately watered, and healthy is paramount to avoiding infection.
Certain varieties of pears can survive and bear fruit in Austin, as most types require a comparatively small number of chill hours. Orient varieties are usually a good option, and an Asian variety called Garber pears is one of the best suited for Central Texas, as it requires around 750 chill hours each year, and Austin is within the chill range for 700 hours annually.
Just like apple trees, pear trees require a pollinator. Some pear pollinators suitable for Austin include Warren, Magnes, Ayres, and most Asian varieties. These trees can persist through some drought conditions, and they generally do better in warm climates like Central Texas.
Pears aren’t the hardiest of fruit trees, so they might come down or drop limbs in extreme weather during hurricane season. Bracing might be required if excessive winds are expected.
Pear trees are also somewhat susceptible to different tree diseases, the most serious of which in Texas are fire blight and Texas root rot. Fire blight typically results in blackened branches and dead or dying leaves that have a brownish or reddish hue. Texas root rot is a bit more challenging to diagnose, but it’s typically identified by rapid wilting during the hot Texas summers.
Plum trees can perform well in Central Texas if they’re cared for properly, and they can actually produce quite a bit of fruit if the proper variety is selected for planting.
Some varieties of plums require and can persist through very few chill hours. For example, Methley plums need just 150 chill hours annually and aren’t suited well for Austin’s 700. Allred plums are one of the best options for Central Texas, and Robusto and Bruce plums should thrive as well.
Many plum tree varieties are often regarded as self-fruiting, but introducing a pollinator to your landscape is best, usually within 50 feet of your primary plum tree. For optimal fruit production in Austin, Mexican plum trees, which are well-suited for warm temperatures, are some of the best pollinators for the area.
Plum curculio is a tree pest that attacks a variety of fruit trees, including plum trees. They are most prevalent in warmer climates, so they’re a severe issue in Austin. They can quickly ruin a harvest by eating through the fruit and causing early fruit drop.
You can avoid plum curculio to some degree by cleaning up fallen fruit and leaves from your plum tree on a daily or every other day basis. The larvae prefer soft fruit, so removing rotting plums will limit your tree’s exposure to the pests. If you’re composting, avoid putting plum tree leaves in your compost, and never add plums, cherries, apples, peaches, or pears. All of these fruits can attract plum curculio adults.
Pecan trees aren’t the easiest to grow in all areas throughout Austin, but we had to include them, as they are Texas’s state tree! Pecan tree fruit is a drupe, which is a particular type of fruit whose flesh isn’t eaten by humans.
Pecan trees are well adapted to Texas’s climate and soil conditions, for the most part. They can thrive in extreme heat that arrives in the summer months in Austin, adapt to most soil conditions throughout Travis County, and deal well with intense sun.
Unfortunately, one of the more challenging aspects of maintaining pecan trees is watering and drought conditions. Pecan trees are very large and need an immense amount of water each week to thrive and bear fruit. Getting each tree 150-200 gallons a week is required and can be nearly impossible during the extreme drought that occurs somewhat commonly in Austin.
However, pecan trees can be suitable for areas in Austin where water sources are nearby and keep the groundwater level high enough to saturate the roots from underneath.
Aside from watering constraints, the only other potential issue is that they can drop limbs and branches during extreme weather in Austin, including hurricanes and tropical storms. They commonly reach between 60 and 80 feet tall, so make sure you plant your pecan tree in a suitable location.
There are other options for growing fruit trees in Austin, but most of the other fruits that can grow in Central Texas are more challenging and require more skill and knowledge. We’ll include a brief list below of some more fruit trees that can yield a harvest in Austin without too much trouble:
- Pomegranate Trees
- Loquat Trees
- Apricot Trees
- Citrus Trees like Meyer Lemon and Satsuma Mandarin(Very Challenging)
- Grapefruit Trees
- Dewberry Trees
What Are The Key Factors For Successful Fruit Tree Production in Austin?
It’s no secret that Austin, Texas, isn’t the ideal place for all tree varieties. The state as a whole is prone to quite a bit of extreme weather and circumstances that can make certain fruit trees very challenging or near impossible to grow. Below are the most significant factors when it comes to fruit tree production in Central Texas.
Most fruit trees require chill hours, which is the approximate number of hours each year spent between 32 and 45 degrees (F). Temperatures in Austin fall within this range for approximately 700 hours annually.
The number of chill hours for fruit trees varies between 100 and 1,000 hours in most cases, and while the number doesn’t have to be met exactly, fruit trees and their varieties that are suited for 550-750 chill hours will generally do best in Austin.
It’s possible to grow fruit trees that have a lower requirement, but you’ll likely need some type of frost protection to avoid extensive cold temperatures. Some fruit trees, like fig trees, require far fewer chill hours but are hardy enough to withstand the cooler Texas temperatures without too much of an issue, especially when they’re mature.
One of the most prevalent problems for fruit trees in Texas is the lack of water. Texas spends between 30 and 40% of the year in some state of drought, so fruit trees that need excessive or constant watering can be very challenging to grow in Austin.
Hardy fruit trees that can deal without water for relatively long stretches — like fig trees and persimmon trees — are best suited for growing in Central Texas. However, it’s still best to install a drip line irrigation system or hand water them regularly during droughts, if possible.
Texas summers can be excessively hot, with days averaging between 75 and 95 degrees (F) and commonly hitting over 100. Many fruit trees can handle high temperatures, but prolonged sun exposure and excessive heat can cause some to wilt, sunscald, and even die off entirely.
High heat can also contribute to the adverse effects of drought, as it tends to dry up whatever moisture is in the soil rapidly. The trees most readily able to handle high temperatures will often provide the best harvest in Austin.
Fruit trees tend to prefer alkaline soil that is drained well, and they get the exact opposite in Travis County. The heavy clay soil is low in acidity and drains slowly, exposing most fruit trees to root rot and other fungal infections.
Homeowners who mulch around their fruit trees will typically see a better yield and a healthier tree. Composting or fertilizing might be required as well, depending on your soil. Professional arborists like ours can help carry out a soil test and determine if yours needs amendments for healthy fruit tree growth.
Many different tree pests prevalent in Austin can infest your trees, destroy your harvest, or even entirely kill the tree. We list some of the most common insects that attack trees in Texas below:
- Plum Curculio
- June Beetles
- Raspberry Crown Borer
- Peach Tree Borer
- Citrus Leafminer
- Leaf Footed Insects
- Asian Citrus Psyllid
- Citrus Rust Mite
- Pecan Nut Casebearer
Some of the pests above make growing certain fruit and nut trees in Austin impractical or very challenging, while others make it nearly impossible. If you have an issue with tree pests or suspect you might, contact our professional arborists for a diagnosis and treatment. We can treat your tree and ensure the infestation doesn’t spread to nearby trees as well.
Finally, some tree diseases are widespread in Central Texas and can severely limit your tree’s yield or kill the tree altogether. If at any point you notice your fruit tree dying or see any signs of the below tree diseases in Austin, contact our experienced arborists immediately for treatment:
- Fire blight
- Cotton/Texas Root Rot
- Leaf Spot
- Brown Rot
- White Peach Scale
- Crown Gall
- Powdery Mildew
- Pecan Scab
Owning a fruit tree can be an extremely rewarding experience that provides joy, the peacefulness of horticulture, and delicious fruit. Many homeowners in Austin believe that the extreme weather conditions and climate in Central Texas will make growing fruit trees too challenging or even impossible, but that isn’t the case.
Planting a fruit tree species that can thrive in Austin, being ready to diagnose and treat common issues, and having a professional arborist like us on call to prune and treat your trees appropriately can make the process straightforward and stress-free!