Planting fruit trees in your garden is a great way to grow delicious food each year. However, what happens if you have a peach and apple tree together in a garden—will they cross-pollinate? Can a peach tree pollinate an apple tree?
Luckily, we've done plenty of digging and have the answer below!
Although you'll have better results by planting multiple apple trees, a peach tree can also be used to pollinate one. Generally, as long as both your peach and apple trees are blooming, they'll be able to cross-pollinate.
It's worth noting that "clone" apple trees will not pollinate each other, hence why some people move to a peach tree instead. If you want your apple trees to pollinate one another, they must be different varieties.
As we start this article, we will cover all things growing apple trees and discuss if you can use a peach tree to pollinate one. Whether you're creating a mini orchard, have an apple and pear tree close to each other, or need extra help, you've come to the right place. With that said, let's dive right in!
Can A Peach Tree Pollinate An Apple Tree?
Yes! It is possible for a peach tree to pollinate an apple tree. Even though it's usually best to pollinate fruit trees of the same genus with each other, you can also use a peach tree for your apple tree.
Gardeners often plant two different apple tree varieties to encourage proper pollination. However, if your yard has a peach tree instead, it will work to cross-pollinate with your apple tree.
According to experts, cross-pollination can occur as long as your two fruit trees are in bloom at the same time. That should make fruiting possible for both trees, regardless of whether one of the same species is nearby.
On top of that, some—but not all—ornamental crabapple trees work for cross-pollination purposes. Therefore, your apple tree doesn't necessarily need to be near another apple variety to produce fruit.
You also want to note that many apple tree varieties produce fruit biennially, with a great crop one year, a so-so one the next, and a successful apple-making season.
These trees are sometimes a bit whacky, so don't be alarmed if they don't always make large juicy apples.
Should I Plant A Peach Tree Next To An Apple Tree?
If you don't want to plant multiple apple trees together but instead a peach tree, that's fine. As mentioned, you can rely on peach trees to pollinate apple species, which makes them perfect partner plants.
However, it's a good rule of thumb to start with multiple trees from the same species, but different varieties. Apple trees need diversity to pollinate, meaning you can't plant identical trees and expect a bountiful harvest.
On top of that, peach trees are not pollinated by apples. Therefore, you would also need to plant other peach trees to see fruiting on your trees each year, which can defeat this purpose for some.
The key to cross-pollination is diversifying your species of fruit tree. So, if you want to try having peaches and apples together, it might be nice to plant four trees—two different apples and two unique peach trees.
Then you can be assured all four will bloom and produce delicious fruit. If you only have one apple and peach tree together, you will get apples but no peaches.
How Far Apart Can You Plant Apple And Peach Trees?
It's generally best to give your apple and peach trees about 20 feet of space between each other. Because both trees will become somewhat large as they mature, 20 feet ensures sufficient ground space and minimizes aggressive or invasive root behaviors.
However, standard-size apple trees may reach 35 feet in spread and height, so depending on the variety, you may need even more space. Luckily, peach trees only reach 15-ish feet tall and roughly 20 feet wide.
On the other hand, apple trees reach 30+ feet in height and spread, making them the larger species. That makes spacing out your trees even more crucial.
For example, if you don't give an apple and peach tree their own space in your yard, this could cause them to fight for soil nutrients and water and cause issues with drainage.
According to experts, one of the most important factors for growing peach and apple trees is giving them their own well-draining soil and ensuring they don't become intertwined.
If this happens, the larger of the two plants can overpower the other, causing it to die. So, when in doubt, give your apple and peach trees more space than less!
What Is The Best Tree To Pollinate Apple Trees?
Although you can use a peach tree to pollinate your apple tree, there is a better option. Most experts recommend planting crabapples near your fruiting apple trees, as they tend to cross-pollinate best.
Crabapples produce flowers for an extended period, which makes pollination even more likely for your apple tree. The more flowering on your opposite fruit tree, the better chance of pollination.
It's also common for farmers to plant crabapples at the end of an orchard, as they are so effective in pollinating the nearby apple tree varieties.
Crabapple trees are also ornamental, meaning they'll produce showy flowers in the late spring, which is great for your apple trees which need to be pollinated during that time.
When you plant crabapples beside apple trees, you're also keeping your plants closer related versus introducing a peach tree species. Of course, you can still opt for a peach tree instead, but they won't produce peaches without another cultivar within their species.
Can An Apple Tree Self-Pollinate?
Unfortunately, apple trees cannot self-pollinate. One drawback to this fruit tree is that it requires a partner plant with different genetics to pollinate it in the spring.
That's why many gardeners introduce different fruiting varieties into their landscapes, including peach trees. As we said above, crabapples can also work wonders for pollinating apple trees, so they're also a great choice.
Your apple tree depends on the pollen from another apple/peach tree to grow fruit, so you don't get any fruiting without that. Many people don't realize this and plant a single apple tree, wondering why years go by without harvestable fruit.
According to Iowa State University, some apple trees may yield tiny amounts of fruit on their own but nothing worth harvesting or selling. Unlike certain fruit tree varieties that can handle pollination independently, your apple tree will need some assistance.
For the best chance of apple production, try planting at least two apple cultivars within 50 to 100 feet of one another.
When Do Apple Trees Bloom?
Apple blossoms typically bloom anywhere from early spring or later summer. Generally, you can expect an apple tree to flower as the weather warms up after winter.
Many people notice buds appear in March/April, with flowers blooming 3-4 weeks later. Of course, this can vary depending on your climate, so some people may be ahead with warmer weather and behind with cooler temperatures.
There are a few early-season bloomers, including McIntosh, Gala, Honeycrisp, and Fuji apples, so if you don't like waiting, we'd recommend growing those in your garden.
One of the benefits of growing apple trees is that while they're actively flowering and fruiting, they smell lovely and become staples in a landscape. Not all fruiting tree species have beautiful, pleasant-smelling flowers, so your apple tree will be fun to watch all through spring, summer, and fall.
Apple tree varieties like Macoun, Mutsu, and Pink Lady will blossom later in the summer, so some gardeners will enjoy flowers and fruit until the weather begins to cool down.
How Long Before An Apple Tree Produces Fruit?
Apple trees can take 4-6 years to produce their first harvestable fruit. One drawback to this species is their slow fruit production/waiting period before kicking into high gear.
Standard apple trees typically start fruiting around year 4, although this isn't always 100% true. Sometimes, your apple tree can take a couple of extra years to gain the strength for fruit production.
Some people see apples after 6 years, so this is a waiting game for younger trees. Even in ideal growing conditions, an apple tree will need to develop its branches and root system before fruiting.
According to the University of Minnesota, it can even take larger apple varieties 8 years to produce enough fruit to harvest. They warn that apple trees can be more prone to disease damage than other fruit tree species.
On top of that, dwarf apple tree varieties tend to fruit much faster, often around year 3. So, if you want to see apples more quickly, we recommend choosing a dwarf variety for your garden. That's because your smaller apple tree won't need to develop for as long to sustain fruit.
Dwarf apple trees reach around 6 to 20 feet tall, so they're not always tiny either. You'll still need a partner plant for your dwarf or fill-size apple tree, so don't forget to plant a different variety nearby.
To Wrap It Up
Whether you have an apple tree growing in your garden or want to plant one, giving them a partner tree to cross-pollinate with is essential. We found that you can use a peach tree to do this.
However, your peach tree won't be able to fruit without another one nearby, so this idea only results in a pollinated apple plant. Ideally, you'll plant various apple trees with different genetic makeup in your garden.
A great example would be crabapples and regular fruiting apple tree varieties in a landscape. Commercial growers often do this, as the crabapples flower for months. Good luck!
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