Every region has species that thrive well in it, and those that don’t. Whether you’re interested in growing food, or you’re just keen on learning about interesting species, check out the list below. We’ll look at some of the best fruit trees that grow in Arizona, as well as some that you shouldn’t bother trying to cultivate there.
What are the Best Fruit Trees that Grow in Arizona?
This probably won’t surprise you, but most of the fruit trees that thrive best in Arizona’s hot, dry climate are desert species. These have evolved over thousands of years to do well with a lot of heat and sunshine. They’ve also developed techniques for being quite drought resistant.
Below are 12 of the best options for various parts of Arizona. Depending on where you live, you could be in a single zone, or a crossover area. AZ is one of the rare areas that has zones in a dozen different categories! For example, Yuma is the hottest city in AZ, so it’s considered zone 10a. In contrast, Flagstaff is zone 6a, because of its high elevation and cold winters. As a result, you’ll need to take your area’s elevation and grow zone into account when choosing your fruit trees.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a zone that’s 9a and above, then consider growing some olive trees. These beauties thrive in areas that have long, hot, dry summers, and short, mild winters. You’ll be able to grow some truly wonderful olives for your table, and maybe start making your own olive oil, if you have enough land to play with!
As an added benefit, olive leaf has many medicinal properties. In fact, it’s a go-to remedy for all kinds of skin issues, including shingles and cold sores.
Since pomegranate trees thrive in zones 7-10, they’re not ideal for areas that get colder winters. We’re looking at you here, Sedona.
Despite their association with desert locations, fig trees are actually remarkably resilient. They do need a lot of sunshine, but you can get hardy varieties that will do well in cooler areas like zone 6b. This means that you can grow figs anywhere in Arizona! Visit your local garden center and talk to the helpful staff there for advice on which cultivars will do best in your area.
There are three different mesquite trees native to AZ, and they grow really well in Scottsdale, Tempe, and Mesa. Depending on where you’re located, you can try growing the following:
- Texas Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) – Also called “honey mesquite”, the pods and inner fruits are super sweet, and the trees themselves are quire beautiful.
- Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens) – These got their moniker because the seed pods grow in little spirals, like screws.
- Arizona Mesquite (Prosopis velutina) – The aptly named “velvet mesquite” has soft, fuzzy foliage and seed pods.
These trees are super-fast growers, and can stretch 15-25 inches a year in optimal conditions! You’ll be able to make your own, spectacular mesquite BBQ sauce in no time.
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Peaches prefer slightly cooler temperatures, so these will do best in Sedona or Flagstaff. If the soil on your land is quite dry, talk to the staff at your garden center about amendments before you plant a peach tree. They’re heavy feeders, so they’ll need stuff like aged compost, and water-retaining amendments like vermiculite or sphagnum.
Since these fruits originated in Central Asia, they do quite well in hot, dry climates. They may not do well in the lower growing zones, but if you’re in zones 8-10, definitely try cultivating your own! Then you can either eat the fruits raw, or dry them out for later snacking.
Like peach trees, plums require slightly lower temperatures to really thrive. They need between 200 and 300 “chill hours” in order to produce fruit properly, so if you’re in zones 5-8, you’re golden. Aim for cultivars such as Gulf Ruby, Beauty, Gulf Gold, or Santa Rosa for optimal results.
Read More Here: What do Plums Taste Like?
Since quince trees need a ton of heat and light, they’re really well suited to most parts of Arizona. They seem to do particularly well around Tucson, and are gaining popularity in that region. Note that you can’t eat quinces raw, but they make excellent jam, jelly, and other preserves.
If you’re keen on growing citrus on your property, there are two varieties that do really well in Arizona. These are Lisbon, and Eureka, and you should be able to find them at your local tree nursery. You’ll need to fertilize them a few times during the growing season to help them thrive, and they’ll do especially well if you install a drip line hose to keep them well watered.
You’ll be able to grow limes if you live in Tucson, Phoenix, or Yuma, and some varieties will do better than others. For example, the best ones for you to try growing are Persian limes, key limes, and finger limes. These all thrive in zones 9b to 11, so if you’re located in one of AZ’s hottest regions, you’ll soon be squeezing home-grown limes into your mojitos, salsas, and more.
Further Reading: Complete Citrus Fruit List
Marsh, Oro Blanco, and Rio Red are the best varieties to try growing in AZ. These are best suited to dry environments and hot summers, and will provide as much beauty and shade as they will delicious harvests. Have you ever smelled grapefruit blossoms? They’re absolutely intoxicating, and can also be harvested for homemade skincare/beauty products.
12. Navel Orange
These beauties can either be planted right in your yard, or grown in containers! They do best in well-drained soil, and need a ton of sunshine. If you have both of these in spades, then these easy-to-grow fruits are pretty much perfect for you.
Some of these species are dual- or even triple-purpose! For example, take a look at mesquite trees. Not only do these provide much-needed shade in hot, sunny weather, both the beans and their surrounding pods are edible. You can eat the beany fruits within, and then dry the pods and grind them into flour.
Try this recipe for mesquite pancakes, if you’re feeling adventurous!
Tips for Growing Fruit Trees in AZ
The best time for growing your fruit trees, especially the citrus ones, are either in September/October, or early spring (March/April). When you plant during these months, you’ll avoid exposing plants to harsh temperatures. This protects the vulnerable roots, which are just starting to establish themselves. Furthermore, there’s little risk of frost during these periods either.
Depending on your tree’s species and age, it can take at least a couple of seasons for it to bear fruit. As such, you’ll need to be patient with it, and tend it lovingly. Aim for a more mature tree if you’d like to speed up the harvest process. Additionally, make sure to give it all the nutrients and conditions it needs in order to thrive best. Remember that it’ll bear more fruit, of higher quality, if it’s fed and watered well.
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As an added benefit, keep in mind that growing trees won’t just provide you with a wonderful food source. Trees can also lower their surrounding area’s temperature as the water within them evaporates into the atmosphere nearby. This makes them part of Mother Nature’s overall natural cooling system. What a great design!
Whether you’ve decided to grow native species, or try your hand at growing exotics, have fun. Enjoy the growing process, and revel in the deliciousness you’re certain to harvest in time.