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Monday, October 24, 2011

My Top Choices in Fruit Trees for an Edible Landscape

I have been tracking how fruit trees have been performing at our Orchard in North Las Vegas for fruit quality and how good they would be dual purpose; ornamental and fruit production. Here are my choices for an edible fruit tree landscape.

Almonds in bloom
Almond. Garden Prince or All-in-One. Both are smaller trees than a standard almond and self fruitful, you dont need a pollinator tree. Garden Prince has a slight edge because its flowers have a purple tinge rather than all white. The nuts are fabulous in size and taste. Try using them as green almonds in salads.

Peach. Red Baron. On a five point scale (there are only a handful of trees that EVER make five points at our Orchard) this is a solid 4,0. What puts this tree "over the top" are its flowers. They are are a gorgeous almost neon red/orange.
Red Baron peach

Nectarine. Arctic Star. I don't care to grow apricots that much in the Orchard because of the potential scarring of the fruit by the Western Flower Thrips but this fruit scores a 5.0! OMG. It is hands above the other nectarines in the Orchard. We spray with Spinosad (an organic pesticide) to keep the flower thrips at bay and the Mario Batali chefs come out to pick it for sorbet. Try this with fresh mint sometime. Brix will hit over 20. Thin so fruits are four inches apart.

Wonderful pomegranate not quite ripe
Pomegranate. Wonderful. Wonderful has beautiful fruit color and aril (seed) color and it is a lovely plant if pruned into a single or multiple stem tree, not a shrub. There are other pomegranates to consider for the quality of the fruit but if you wait till Halloween to pick the fruit or later you will not be disappointed. Put the fruit in the fridge an extra week or two. Try it and let me know how you like it. Make sure you thin the fruit so that only one fruit arises from a single location. This will give you cannonball sized fruits on older wood.

Jujube 'Contorted'
Jujube. Contorted. Remember this is for ornamental value as well as fruit. So when the leaves drop in the winter the branches have this beautiful contorted form and the fruit is great as well. Remember, Jujube will sucker ten to fifteen feet away or closer to the mother plant. Anywhere there is water it will sucker. There are not lots of these suckers so take a sharp shovel and sever the suckers from the mother plant in the fall and replant them or use them for decoration.

'Pink Lady' apple
Apple. Pink Lady on M111. Another 5.0! Martha Stewart said of this fruit from our Orchard grown in the Mojave Desert "It is the best apple I have ever had!" This tree will stay pretty small if you keep it under control by winter pruning. We have kept it at 6 1/2 feet for 17 years. The fruit exposed to sunlight will turn red by early to mid November with Brix levels hitting 20! Thin to one fruit per cluster. If extremely heavy set, then thin by removing some fruit too close together so spurs have no fruit.

'Sensaton Red Bartlett' pear
Pear. Sensation Red Bartlett. The color of the fruit in the fall when it is ripening are a great red color and the flavor is phenomenal. When you grow European pears in the desert expect they will not be perfectly smooth skinned. That is what distinguishes a desert European pear from the tame pears of the Northwest and other locales. Thin to one fruit per fruit cluster.

Asian Pear. Chojiro. If you spend some time thinning Asian pears there is no reason you cant get the same size and flavor you could if it were growing in Japan. Thin to one to two fruit per branch very early for some very sizable Asian pear fruits.

'Fuyu' persimmon
Plum. Weeping Santa Rosa. We actually removed the weeping Santa Rosa plums from the orchard a few years ago because the weeping branches were getting in the way of harvest BUT the weeping form is beautiful and Santa Rosa plum is a very reliable and delicious soft plum for the desert.

Persimmon. Fuyu. Fuyu persimmon is nonastringent so you can eat them when they are still very firm and orange in color OR you can leave them on longer and let them turn bright red, like Christmas ornaments, after leaf drop.

A large fig at the orchard
Fig. Yellow, Kadota; Dark, Black Mission. Figs make a beautiful landscape tree and can be cut back in the winter to just about any size you want. Save the wood for grilling and smoking. It is great used with chicken.


  1. Have you ever heard of the edible Moringa oleifera? They call it the Miracle Tree. I'm going to try to grow it this Spring.

  2. Yes, I have run across it in Africa and in the Philippines. In the Bicol region of the philippines (called malunggay) the leaves are often cooked with coconut milk and into a delicious meal often with shrimp oe pork and hot peppers and termed Bicol Express. In Zimbabwe I ran across it as well as in Kenya. Nearly all parts of the tree are edible but with some parts high in calcium oxalate so this is a warning to kidney stone patients. Remember this is a tropical tree and will not tolerate any frost or freezing temperatures. RLLM

    1. the african moringa you came across may have been of the species stenopetala, probably more cold-hardy in las vegas compared to oleifera

  3. Great tips on growing these! Such a great selection of fruit for there, though most or all we grow in Abq, too.

    1. Is the contorted jujube self-fruitful or does it need Lang?

  4. Replies
    1. Hi Bob, is there a nursery here in las vegas which sells jujube plants? Star nursery and moon valley don't sell these anymore..


  5. The better jujube plants are grafted on to a rootstock, usually sour jujube. Those jujube that are not grafted you can transplant a root sucker in the fall or spring. Otherwise I would search online for a jujube. There are many varieties to pick from now. Remember that they do sucker and these suckers need to be removed or they will create a nice forest of jujubes in a few years. The suckers usually popup at other sources of water in desert plantings.

  6. hello, would you like to trade some fig tree cuttings? I have several great varieties I can share with you and would love to try yours. please email me at ediblelandscaping.sc@gmail.com if interested.

  7. Hi! I live in North Las Vegas and planted a Pink Lady Apple and a Fuji Apple as a pollination partner last March. My Fuji died over the summer. I like Fuji apples from the store but I'm wondering if I should try again with another Fuji tree or choose another variety.