Fruits That Grow In North Carolina


Fruits that are grown in North Carolina. Grown in the sandy soils and humid air surrounding the state, North Carolinians consume more fruit than the rest of the country on average. A handful of fruits grow readily in the state. The most popular fruits grown include apples, blueberry, cantaloupe, fig, grape, kiwifruit, peach, pear and plum. While many people travel to other states to tour destinations like Great Smoky Mountains National Park or Biltmore Estate, they may be missing out on some interesting details about a local fruit farm in their area.

 Tree Fruit and Nuts

This chapter teaches people to:

  • Select varieties of fruit and nut trees that thrive in specific environmental conditions.
  • Select quality sites for planting fruit and nut trees.
  • Plant and prune fruit and nut trees.
  • Identify and manage common fruit and nut tree pests and diseases.


Growing a crisp apple, juicy peach, or a perfect pecan is the dream of many gardeners. Backyard gardeners can grow varieties not available in the market. And unlike commercial producers who must harvest and ship weeks before the fruit is ripe, gardeners can harvest fruit and nuts at their peak. Fruit and nut trees, however, require ample garden space, annual maintenance, and plenty of patience because many do not produce a crop for several years. If properly maintained, fruit and nut trees are productive for many years. This chapter explains some of the challenges and opportunities that gardeners encounter when selecting, planting, and maintaining fruit and nut trees in North Carolina.

Selecting and Placing Fruit and Nut Trees in a Home Landscape

Site Selection

Select the site carefully to ensure your fruit or nut trees will thrive for years to come. Begin by identifying what your site has to offer such a tree. How big a space is available with at least six hours or more of sunlight, and how much of that sunlit space is free from the interference of walls, eaves, sheds, fences, or powerlines? If you have less than 10 square feet, consider a berry bush instead. If you have a 10-to-20-square-foot area, you can grow a self-pollinating dwarf fruit tree, fig, or persimmon. With more than 20 square feet you can grow a self-pollinating apple, pear, peach, or plum tree. Pecan trees require 70 square feet of space. Fruit trees that require cross-pollination need at least twice as much space to accommodate the two or more different varieties needed to get fruit set. If you plant a fruit or nut tree in a space that’s too small, you must prune to contain size rather than to promote fruiting. That kind of pruning will stress the trees, making them more susceptible to insect and disease damage and rarely productive. With limited space, consider trees grafted on dwarfing rootstock, container trees, or espalier trees.

Regional Considerations

More than 200 soil types occur in North Carolina, which stretches 503 miles from the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Coast and ranges in elevation from 6,684 feet on the top of Mount Mitchell to sea level on the beach. Altitude has the greatest influence on climate in North Carolina, and year-round there is a 20-degree difference in temperature between the highest and lowest elevations. November is the driest month, while July is the wettest, and all of North Carolina’s rivers are likely to flood. In addition, all areas of the state are subject to wind, hail, and ice damage. Each of these factors affects which fruit and nut trees thrive and what weeds, pests, and diseases present challenges. Because of these considerations, gardeners need region-specific information regarding fruit tree cultivation in North Carolina.


Eastern North Carolina

The NC coastal plain elevation is generally less than 200 feet. Relatively uniform soils of soft sediment occur here, with high sand content (generally referred to as “light soils”), and little or no hard rock near the surface. The NC coastal plain includes the NC tidewater area, which is flat and swampy, and the gently sloping, well-drained interior area.

Where the cold Labrador Current flows between the warm Gulf Stream and the North Carolina coast, the two divergent currents create major storms, causing rain along the coast. Tropical cyclones in the fall can cause severe floods. Temperatures range from 20°F in the winter to 89°F in summer. Average annual rainfall ranges from 40 to 55 inches.

These fruit and nut tree crops are recommended for eastern North Carolina: apples, chestnuts, figs, pears (Asian and European), pecans, persimmons (American and Asian), and plums.

Gardeners must confront several challenges to growing fruit trees in the NC coastal plain. Nematodes are more common in sandy soils; use nematode-resistant GuardianTM rootstock in the light sandy soils of eastern North Carolina. In addition, there are several variety-specific issues with apples. For example, difficult-to-grow varieties, such as ‘Pink Lady’, do not produce good color in the NC coastal plain. In the eastern part of the state, peach tree short life (PTSL) complex causes sudden death of young peach trees in the spring.

Central North Carolina

The NC piedmont has hard rock near the surface, and the elevation rises from 200 feet to 1,500 feet. Elevation changes consist primarily of gently rolling hills. Much of the subsoil in the NC piedmont has high clay content–commonly called “heavy” soil. Floods covering a wide area do occur, most likely in winter. Temperatures range from 10°F in winter to 100°F in summer. Average annual rainfall ranges from 40 to 55 inches.

Recommended fruit and nut tree crops for central North Carolina include apples, chestnuts, figs, pears (Asian and European), pecans, persimmons (American and Asian), and plums. ‘Lovell’ and ‘Halford’ rootstocks work well for peaches in the NC piedmont.

Western North Carolina

The elevation in the NC foothills and mountains ranges from 1,000 to 6,684 feet. The soils consist of eroded, rocky materials, with rocks on the surface. Like the subsoil in the NC piedmont, much of the subsoil in the NC foothills and mountains has high clay content. Temperatures range from 0°F in winter to 80°F in summer. Depending on the location, average annual rainfall ranges from more than 90 inches to less than 37 inches. Flash floods on small streams in the mountains most commonly occur in spring, when thunderstorm rain falls onto saturated or frozen soil.

Recommended fruit and nut tree crops for western North Carolina include apples, chestnuts, pears (Asian and European), and plums.


Chilling Hours

In order to bloom and set fruit, deciduous fruit and nut trees require a certain number of winter hours below 45°F. Inadequate chilling can result in little or no fruit. Different types of fruit and different varieties of the same fruit require different numbers of chilling hours. For example, peach trees may require as little as 200 hours to as much as 1,000-plus hours. The lower the chilling-hours requirement, the earlier the tree will begin growing once temperatures are warm enough. In North Carolina, wide fluctuations occur in winter and spring temperatures, and the requirements of low-chilling-hour varieties may be met early in the winter. When that happens, any warm period during the remainder of the winter will cause the tree to bloom prematurely. The next freezing temperature will kill those blossoms. Likewise, varieties that require a high number of chilling hours will suffer if the chilling requirement is not met. Trees will bloom erratically, produce deformed leaves, and have little to no fruit set in the spring. Typically, throughout North Carolina, gardens receive in excess of 1,000 chilling hours annually, so insufficient chilling rarely occurs. To minimize frost and freeze crop losses, plant varieties with a chilling requirement of 750 hours or greater. In North Carolina, varieties with chilling requirements of less than 750 hours suffer frequent crop losses.


Select species and varieties that are hardy at the lowest temperatures in your yard.

Air Drainage

Cold air is heavier than warm air and thus drains down and settles in low spots at the bottoms of hills. Adequate air drainage is as important as proper water drainage. In North Carolina, spring frosts and freezes are common, and a small difference in elevation can mean the difference between a full crop and no crop at all. For example, a 10-foot difference in elevation may equate to a difference of 1°F during a spring freeze event. Select a higher site with an unobstructed, gradual slope that allows cold air to flow downhill away from the trees. Avoid low sites, which are commonly known as “frost pockets.”


Fruit and nut trees need at least 6 hours of sunlight during the growing season. Avoid areas shaded by taller trees, houses, or buildings. Avoid direct southern exposure because the warmer temperatures on a southern slope can cause early blooming and exposure to frost damage.

Light penetration is essential for flower bud development and optimal fruit set, flavor, color, and quality. Fruit tree buds require direct sunlight to initiate flowers and for highquality fruit production. Shaded branches do not develop flower buds. Although the exterior of a tree may receive full sun, light penetration is reduced by as much as half just 18 inches into the tree’s canopy. Pruning to allow sunlight into the canopy is essential—both for fruit production and to prevent pest problems.


Soil consists of minerals, organic matter, air, and water. For more information about soil structure, texture, and profiles, see chapter 1, “Soils and Plant Nutrients.”

Soil Type and Drainage

Fruit trees must be planted in well-drained soil to prevent standing water from drowning the roots. Even though a tree is dormant in the winter, its root system is still growing and it is susceptible to damage from poor drainage. Water standing in the root zone for two to three days could result in tree death. Poorly drained soils also promote the growth of pathogens that infect roots.

When poorly drained soils are difficult to avoid, minimize problems by planting the trees in raised beds or berms. Form beds and berms by shaping well-drained topsoil from the surrounding area. Raised beds should measure 18 inches to 24 inches high and 4 feet to 5 feet wide.

Soil Fertility

To determine fertility needs, collect soil samples for analysis. Detailed directions can be found in chapter 1, “Soils and Plant Nutrients.” Instructions and sample boxes are available through N.C. Cooperative Extension centers. Take soil samples from two depths: the first from the top 6 inches to 8 inches of soil and the second from the lower profile, 16 inches to 18 inches in depth. Samples are analyzed by the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, which provides a detailed analysis and specific recommendations for improving fertility. A soil pH of approximately 6.0 to 6.5 is optimum for fruit tree growth. North Carolina soils, however, are typically more acidic (lower pH). Follow the directions included with your soil test results to adjust your pH, if recommended, by adding lime to a depth of 16 inches to 18 inches, preferably before planting. Note that in acidic soils, even when nutrients are present, they may be locked up in the soil and unavailable to roots. In this case, additional fertilizer does not benefit the tree but may run off or leach to pollute storm water.

Tree Selection

Whether a fruit or nut tree thrives in a particular location or not depends upon the site’s climate and soil, and the tree’s rootstock and cultivar. Because it is virtually impossible to change the climate or soils, always select cultivars known to thrive in the given conditions. Fruit and nut trees that look promising on the glossy pages of mail-order catalogs are destined to fail if grown in incompatible climates and soils. Climatic conditions and soils vary greatly from one region to another in North Carolina, so the best way to minimize stress and limit pesticide use is to choose plants that are well-adapted to the particular environment.

Another factor to consider when selecting fruit and nut trees is the level of management required. Low-maintenance crops, such as pecans, figs, and persimmons, grow with little attention to training, fertility, or insect and disease management. Conversely, peaches, nectarines, and plums require intensive management.

Table 15–1 lists fruit trees that grow well and produce reliable crops in North Carolina. Table 15–2 includes often-overlooked native fruit crops that grow well in North Carolina. Tree fruits not included on the lists may grow in North Carolina, but few produce quality fruit on a regular basis. Apricot and cherry trees grow in certain areas where the climate is favorable, but need careful management and will not consistently bear fruit. Most tropical fruits do not grow outdoors anywhere in North Carolina. Edible bananas, for example, need a longer growing season to produce fruit and cannot survive North Carolina winters.

Cultivar Selection

After selecting the planting site and type of fruit or nut crop, identify a cultivar that thrives in your particular landscape conditions. Novice growers often try to plant the same cultivars they find in their local grocery stores. These cultivars, however, are often grown far away in different climates. Instead, plant cultivars that are known to flourish in local conditions and are resistant to local insects and diseases. Select peach varieties that require at least 750 chilling hours in order to delay spring bloom and minimize frost damage to the flowers and fruit. Chilling hours are not an important consideration in North Carolina with other types of fruit and nut trees.

Rootstock Selection and Spacing

Almost all commercially available fruit trees have their top portions, or scions, of the desired fruit cultivar grafted or budded onto a root system. Scions are selected based on desirable factors, such as tasty fruit, large size, or extended shelf life. The rootstock is selected for its effect on the mature size of the tree (dwarfing to full size), resistance to certain pest problems, or performance in certain soil conditions. Fruit trees are commonly available with a scion from one tree grafted to the rootstock of another tree because most fruit trees do not come true from seed due to cross-pollination. Grafting is also beneficial because grafted trees bear fruit more quickly than seed-grown trees.

Apple trees, for example, grow on many different cultivars of rootstocks (Figure 15–17). Some rootstocks limit growth, resulting in dwarf trees, while others produce trees that crop early and are easier to manage than full-sized trees. Fruit size is not significantly affected by the rootstock. Two categories of growth habit are included in Table 15–3: spur and nonspur. Spurs are short, stubby, slow-growing branches that support multiple fruit blossoms and remain fruitful for 7 to 10 years. Spur-type cultivars have more fruiting spurs and a more compact growth habit. Generally, spur strains of a cultivar result in trees that are only 60% to 70% as large as nonspur types.

What Fruit Trees Can I grow In North Carolina?


What Fruit Trees Can I grow In North Carolina? Featured

North Carolina growers have many options when choosing fruit trees for the home orchard. The warm summers and cool winters allow for excellent crops of apples, pears, persimmons, plums & more. The humidity on the other hand means that variety selection and tree maintenance will be key to avoiding pest and disease issues.

All of the following recommendations are listed as:

Fruit Tree: Variety(Required Chill Hours)


Citrus Trees: All Citrus(Indoor/Outdoor)

Citrus trees are tropical plants that love the heat and humidity of the North Carolina summers and will thrive outdoors during those months. That said, Citrus trees are only cold hardy to about 25°-30°F depending on the variety so they need to be protected during the colder months and brought indoors. Thankfully Citrus trees in general are one of the few types of trees that do exceedingly well in containers. Lemons and Limes are the tougher of the citrus family making them a great choice for an indoor/outdoor tree and will produce nearly year-round under adequate conditions. Follow our indoor citrus growing guide/pdf for more instruction on how to do this successfully.

Growing persimmon trees in North Carolina is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. There are no known pests or diseases that plague the humble persimmon tree. They are very adaptable to most soil conditions and can be grown across the state. One thing to keep in mind when choosing a variety only the Fuyu and Hachiya are self-fruitful. Chocolate & Coffeecake Persimmon should be grown together to pollinate each other. Other than that, these lovely trees require relatively low amounts of water and soil amendments.  Annual pruning will be good for the tree especially if you want to keep the tree from growing too tall. Persimmon trees are typically sold and shipped in the fall/ winter as dormant planting gives the tree time to establish roots before the growing season starts.

Apple trees are the tried and true variety for the majority of states. They are cold hardy, heat tolerant to an extent(more so with Tree Paint) but do require a fair amount of maintenance for a good crop. Pruning in the winter (Anything dead, damaged, or diseased should go), a heavy top-dressing of compost and mulch in the spring, then thinning the fruit as the season progresses is the recipe for a fruitful tree with good-sized apples. A healthy watering regimen is also important, especially with the hot summers. The humidity can be an issue for a lot of fruiting trees so spraying with an organic fungicide will certainly help but is not required. Keeping on top of disease will be important if you want a long-lived tree.

Growing Pear Trees in North Carolina is a bit more difficult than apples. Pear Trees are particularly susceptible to disease & pests damage. Warren Pear is an exception that is highly fire blight resistant. Pear trees also tend to grow more upright so like apples, a fair amount of maintenance and pruning is necessary for a good yield and accessible fruit.

Apricots and plums grow well but live short lives in the humid climate of North Carolina. You will need to avoid early blooming cultivars as the late frost and spring rain can do a lot of damage to the emerging blossoms. While many varieties are self-fruitful, planting two cultivars will dramatically increase your fruit production. Spraying your tree regularly during the growing season with a multipurpose fungicide/insecticide will be vital to the longevity of your tree.

The warm North Carolina summer provides adequate heat to produce lots of sweet juicy fruit. Peaches and nectarines are similar to apricots and plums in that they will grow well but they also live short-lived lives due to humidity-induced pest/disease pressure. They require the same regimen of spraying and maintenance to produce a good crop. Pruning your tree to an open center will also help to allow more airflow through your tree and reduce the chance of pest/fungal issues. Consider varieties with slightly longer chill hour requirements to ensure that they don’t bloom too early and have their blossoms ravaged by late frosts or rain.

The Jujube tree is wildly popular in Asia where they have been grown for thousands of years but is only just starting to become more commonly grown in the US. Growing Jujubes in North Carolina is extremely easy as these trees are very adaptable to different soil types and have almost zero known pests or diseases that affect them in the US. Ripe fruit is delightfully sweet and almost nutty, apple-like in flavor and texture with its firm, crunchy flesh. This makes the Jujube a great option for a grower looking for a unique tree with minimal maintenance requirements. 

Growing Fig Trees in North Carolina is relatively easy. These trees require minimal maintenance, tend to bear fruit very early, and are mostly self-pollinating. Expect some die back in the winter if you are in West/Central NC. You’ll want to prune the damaged branches in the spring and these resilient/vigorous trees should come back. A topdressing of compost and mulch in the spring will feed the tree and keep weeds down. Fig trees are also excellent container trees that can be brought indoors if you ever see temperatures approaching 5°F.

The state fruit is grown all over North Carolina and produces well from the coast to the western border. Needless to say, grapevines are an excellent choice for the home grower and will fruit in a variety of growing conditions. Grapevines are self-fruitful and start producing fruit around their third year. Around 6 vines is recommended for the average family for an adequate fruit yield for fresh eating. Maintenance such as spraying and pruning is crucial to making sure you have a good fruit yield and long-living vines.

Growing Pomegranates in North Carolina is easier than you might think. Although these plants prefer warm, arid regions, some parts of NC provide just enough heat for a good crop. The coastal grower should be able to grow directly in the ground with minimal frost damage in the winter. Central state growers will want to grow in a container and protect your tree from the sub 10°F temperatures that will start to kill off the tree. This beautiful shrub-like tree needs minimal maintenance and makes for excellent living walls that produce delicious and nutritious fruit.

0 Best Fruit Trees to Grow in North Carolina (2022 Guide)

What are the Best Fruit Trees to Grow in North Carolina?

Finding the best fruit trees to grow in North Carolina was not as easy as I thought. Some require extensive care, others are prone to pests, and lots are just not simple & quick enough to grow.

That’s why I created a list of the 10 Best Fruit Trees to Grow in North Carolina!

This ultimate guide will give you the best fruit trees to grow, why you should grow them, and even how to grow them.

Favorite Posts

Read THIS Before Growing Fruit Trees in North Carolina

Knowing what hardiness zone North Carolina is in is critical to understanding the best fruits that can be grown.

It can be the difference between your fruit orchard thriving and providing a bountiful yield or producing nothing and maybe even dying.

North Carolina is considered Hardiness Zone 7 & 8.

hardiness zone map

10 Best Fruit Trees to Grow in North Carolina

#1. Apple Tree

apple tree

Popular Varieties: Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, Granny

Why Grow Apple Trees in North Carolina?


Cold Hardy:

  • Apple Trees thrive in North Carolina’s cold spring and cooler fall months. Unlike other fruits, flowers and fruit can grow even when there is snow or frost late into the spring.

Easy to Grow:

  • Apple trees may be the easiest fruit to grow. You do not need to fertilize it, don’t need to water it, can be planted in any soil, and needs very little pruning if any.

Perfect for ANY Yard:

  • Apple Trees are perfect for any gardener’s yard. If you have a lot of space you can plant numerous apple trees. If you have a little space you can plant your apple trees in pots. And regardless of the climate or soil in North Carolina, you can plant them just about anywhere in your yard.

Heavy Harvest:

  • Out of all the fruit trees on this list, apple trees have one of the heaviest harvest. Between late August through November you can pick more apples then you’ll be able to eat.

THESE Could Harm Your Apple Trees


  • Deer, Rabbits, & Squirrels LOVE Lettuce. If left unprotected these pests will eat your fruit before it can even fully grow.


  • Out of all the fruit trees on this list, insects are most likely to attact apple trees. Whether it’s Japanese Beetles or Aphids, you will constantly have to spray and care for your apple tree to prevent insect infestation


  • Again, out of all the fruit trees on this list, Apple Trees are most prone to disease. Blight & mold are just two of the diseases that can attack, harm, and sometimes kill your fruit trees in the spring or summer.

Additional Resources

Learn How To Grow Apple Trees 

#2. Pear Tree


Popular Varieties: Barlett, Kieffer, Anjou, Bosc

Why Grow Pear Trees in North Carolina?

pear tree

Cold Hardy:

  • Pear Trees is another hardy fruit when it comes to cold in North Carolina. Pears are a perfect compliment to apple trees, blooming earlier and bearing fruit earlier in the summer.


  • Pear Trees is not only a great tree that is cold-hardy but also does amazing in droughts, high heat, and humidity. This makes it perfect to plant anywhere in your yard, regardless of the amount of sunlight it receives.

Perfect in Pots:

  • If there is any fruit that can be grown in gardening pots in North Carolina, it’s Pear Trees. This is one of the most adaptive fruits, making it perfect for beginner gardeners inNorth Carolina.

THESE Could Harm Your Pear Trees


  • Like many other fruits, insects like aphids will attack and infest your pear trees. Unlike Apple Trees that can recover quickly, Pear Trees typically won’t.

Wet Conditions

  • While pear trees do great in heat and cold, they can struggle with wet conditions. If the ground becomes too wet over winter and spring then there is a chance that root rot will happen, harming or killing your tree.

Additional Resources

Learn How To Grow Pear Trees 

#3. Plum Tree

plum tree

Popular Varieties: Damson, Fench, Friar, Japanese

Why Grow Plum in North Carolina?


Thrives in heat:

  • While most fruit trees tolerate heat, plum trees thrive in it. This early summer fruit-producing tree will grow quickly with more plums when it has a warmer winter and spring.

Insect & Disease Proof:

  • Plums are extremely hardy. Unlike every other fruit tree on this list, plum trees are resistant against almost all insects and every disease, making it the perfect fruit tree to grow in North Carolina.

Perfect for Small Spaces:

  • Apple, Pear, & Cherry Trees grow quite large. If you don’t have a big backyard this can pose a problem. But you don’t have to worry about this with plum trees, as they won’t grow more than 8 to 10 feet high and 6-8 feet wide.

THESE Could Harm Your Plums Trees


  • Deer, Rabbits, & Squirrels come out of winter and become hungry in spring. One of the first plants they eat is plums. Whether protected or unprotected pests pose a risk to growing plums in North Carolina.

Wet Conditions:

  • Like pear trees, plum trees don’t do well with wet conditions. It is recommended to plant this type of tree in an area of your yard with well-draining soil and long periods of direct sunlight.

Additional Resources

The biggest tip for having success growing plum trees is to prune them. Plum trees will take 5-6 years to bear fruit, but pruning your tree will promote tree growth and more plums.

#4. Peach Tree

peach tree

Popular Varieties: Redhaven, Reliance, White, Sunhaven

Why Grow Peaches in North Carolina?


Thrives in the heat:

  • The hotter, the better. Unlike apple, cherry, pear, and plum trees that tolerate heat, peach trees will actually do better the hotter it gets. That means the hot and humid summers are perfect for peach trees bearing more fruit.

Great for Vertical Gardening:

  • Most fruit trees grow high and wide, but very few just grow high. Peach trees are the only type of fruit tree that has varieties that can grow 10 to 15 feet high and only 2 to 3 feet wide.

Quick Growing:

  • Out of all the fruit trees on this list, the Peach Tree is the quickest growing fruit tree. Not only this, but most Peach Trees will actually bear fruit within 1 to 2 years after planting.

THESE Could Harm Your Peach Tree


  • Peach Trees do not tolerate cold weather well. While some varieties can survive North Carolina’s cold weather, most will die if the winter temperatures drop consistently below 10 degrees Fahrenheit.


  • Like many other fruit trees, Peaches are prone to diseases such as blight, mold, etc. Not only will this happen during early spring during wet conditions, but can also continue throughout summer and even fall.

Additional Resources

For best success growing Peach Trees, you should plant them next to other trees in the same family like nectarines and apricots. Keep them in a well-draining and full-sun area of your yard.

#5. Fig

fig tree

Popular Varieties: Chicago, Turkey, Brown

Why Grow Fig Trees in North Carolina?



  • The fig tree is the only fruit tree on this list that is truly pest-resistant. Deers hate fig-trees, rabbits can’t reach the fruit, and squirrels and chipmunks find easier food elsewhere.

Perfect for Indoors & Outdoors:

  • No other fruit on this list can be grown indoors and outdoors. Fig Trees can thrive outside, but most gardeners will grow them in a pot where they leave them outside during the summer months and bring them inside after the first frost of the year.

Easy to Grow:

  • Once you plant your fig tree there is nothing else you need to do. You don’t have to worry about insects or disease, only need to water it once a week, and you even don’t have to worry about pruning it for figs to grow.

THESE Could Harm Your Figs


  • While some types of fig trees can survive and do well in North Carolina winters, most will become stunted and not produce fruit or may even die.


  • If you keep your fig trees in pots droughts will stunt and kill your tree. This is because fig trees in pots will dry out quicker than in the ground.

Additional Resources

Learn How to Prune Fig Trees

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