10 Varieties of Fruit Trees in Pennsylvania

Fruit trees are an excellent addition to any garden throughout the seasons. Beautiful blooms emerge in the spring which is followed by delicious fruits in the summer. Most fruit trees are deciduous so give a fiery display of leaves in the fall before dropping for the winter. 

The various landscapes and humid continental climate of Pennsylvania are perfect for growing a variety of fruit trees. In this article, I have listed 10 species of fruit trees all of which are capable of thriving when grown in the state.

Types of Fruit Trees

Fruits come in a variety of flavors, textures, appearances, and uses. They are categorized into different types, which makes it easier when deciding what species of fruit tree is best for you. 

Drupe Fruit Trees

Drupes, or stone fruits, are those that have a large, central seed that is surrounded by a fleshy outer part. Common examples of stone fruits are apricots, plums, and peaches. 

Berry Fruit Trees 

Berries are considered fleshy fruits that do not have a stone/pit. The red mulberry tree is a berry fruit tree example that is native to Pennsylvania. 

Pome Fruit Trees

Pome fruits are those that have a core surrounded by a fleshy area and skin. Apples and pears are the most well-known pomes and can be easily grown and cultivated in Pennsylvania. 

10 Varieties of Fruit Trees in Pennsylvania 

To help you choose which fruit tree is right for you, be sure to consider factors such as the optimum growing conditions and average height and spread of each species. 

You may also want to think about what you plan to do with your harvest. Are you looking to utilize a harvest straight away or do you have room to store or freeze some produce for use at a later date? So you just want it for ornamental purposes or to attract and feed local wildlife? 

The USDA zones for Pennsylvania range from 4b to 7a so this also needs to be factored into your final choice of species and variety. 

My list below highlights some key features and growing conditions for each to enable you to read on and discover the perfect fruit tree for your garden. 

1. Apple Tree

fruit trees in pennsylvania
Credit: Mikey Moose by CC: 3.0 

Scientific Name: Malus domestica 

  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Difficulty: Require little maintenance 
  • Average Mature Height: 30 to 40 feet
  • USDA Zones: 3 to 8 

Apples are the most commonly grown fruit in Pennsylvania. They may be red, yellow, or green and vary in their size and sweetness. During the spring, apple trees boast pink and white blossoms which will develop into apples.  

Depending on the species, fruits may appear between 2 and 10 years after planting. Apple trees are great for any garden as they can be pruned to maintain a manageable size or planted in containers. 

Apple trees are one of the hardiest fruit trees and can survive freezing temperatures over the winter months. They will produce their highest yield if planted in a sheltered, sunny spot with moist, fertile soil.  

2. Pear Tree

Pear Tree

Credit: Bertu Ordiales by CC: 4.0 

Scientific Name: Pyrus communis 

  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Difficulty: Require little maintenance 
  • Average Mature Height: 15 to 20 feet
  • USDA Zones: 4 to 8 

European and Asian pears are the most common varieties in Pennsylvania. Prior to fruiting, pear trees produce clusters of delicate white blossoms. During the fall, its green leaves become orange and red before dropping. 

Pear trees are hardy to the harsh winters of Pennsylvania and are also tolerant to drought, heat, and humidity. They favor rich, organic soil and will start producing fruit between 3 and 5 years after planting. 

Pear trees are great to plant alongside apple trees as they have a slightly earlier blooming period. These trees are also suitable for planting in containers as well as on the ground. 

3. Apricot Tree

Apricot Tree
Credit: Fir0002 by CC: 3.0

Scientific Name: Prunus armeniaca 

  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Difficulty: Require fairly little maintenance 
  • Average Mature Height: 20 to 25 feet
  • USDA Zones: 5 to 8 

Apricot trees are small and have ovular green leaves. During the springtime, these trees bloom in small clusters of white blossoms. These self-pollinated flowers develop into juicy orange apricots by the summer. They thrive in the heat and humidity of Pennsylvania’s summers. 

Being deciduous, the leaves of this tree turn fiery yellow and drop off in the fall. Apricots love the sun, so grow best in warm locations that will help the fruits ripen and grow large and juicy. They can be grown as free-standing trees or in containers. 

Apricot trees are easy to grow but require some care. They won’t grow well in waterlogged or very salty soils. Regular pruning, feeding and watering over the growing season will help keep these trees happy and healthy. They grow best in the southern regions of Pennsylvania. 

4. Plum Tree

Plum Tree
Credit: Yamamaya by CC: 1.0

Scientific Name: Prunus domestica 

  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Difficulty: Require little maintenance 
  • Average Mature Height: 8 to 10 feet
  • USDA Zones: 3 to 8 

Native to Pennsylvania, wild plum trees are a relatively small species of fruit tree, meaning they are a great addition to smaller gardens. Plums come in many different colors, sizes, and flavors and may be used for cooking or eating straight from the tree. 

Beautiful displays of pink and white blossoms appear on plum trees during the spring. By the late summer, the trees will be producing fruit. Plum trees are one of the fastest-growing fruit trees. They will thrive if Pennsylvania sees a warmer spring and winter. 

Plum trees prefer soil that is fertile and slightly acidic. They can be planted in the ground, in pots, or against fences. These trees are among the earliest to fruit, so should be planted in a sheltered location to protect the blossom from any harsh weather. 

5. Cherry Tree

Cherry Tree

Credit: Milad Mosapoor by CC: 0

Scientific Name: Prunus avium 

  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Difficulty: Require little maintenance 
  • Average Mature Height: 30 to 35 feet
  • USDA Zones: 4 to 10

Commonly grown throughout Pennsylvania, cherry trees are known for their ornamental value and edible fruits. During the summer these trees produce cherries, which come in a variety of red shades and may be sweet or sour.

Cherry trees are among the most beautiful and popular blossom-bearing trees in the world. During the fall, the leaves of these deciduous trees become orange and red before dropping. 

Stone fruits, including cherries, grow best in the Southern regions of Pennsylvania. These trees are susceptible to the cold and wet, so should be grown in warm and sunny locations. These trees come in a variety of sizes and may be planted in the ground, in a container, or grown flat against a wall. 

6. Peach Tree

Peach Tree
Credit: Takkk by CC: 3.0 

Scientific Name: Prunus persica 

  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Difficulty: Require little maintenance 
  • Average Mature Height: 18 to 20 feet
  • USDA Zones: 5 to 8

Peach trees grow relatively quickly. They have long, green leaves that turn a fiery orange in the fall. Vibrant pink blossoms appear on peach trees during the spring. As the summer approaches, these trees bare fuzzy orange-pink peaches. 

Peach trees thrive in hot and humid environments and have 6 distinct growth stages before they are ready to produce a big fruit yield. As such, they should be planted in a south-facing location to allow them to get as much sun and heat as possible. 

Stone fruits such as peaches will grow best in the Southern portions of Pennsylvania and will struggle further North where the temperatures are slightly cooler. 

Deep, fertile, and well-draining soil is ideal for peach trees. They may be grown outdoors or in greenhouses and there are even dwarf varieties that are suitable for containers. If the temperatures are constantly below 10oF then your peach tree is unlikely to survive. 

7. Fig Tree

Fig Tree
Credit: Native Plants Garden by CC: 4.0

Scientific Name: Ficus carica 

  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Difficulty: Require little maintenance 
  • Average Mature Height: 15 to 30 feet
  • USDA Zones: 8 to 10

Fig trees naturally grow in Mediterranean climates, but there are many varieties that are suitable for growing in colder climates, such as Pennsylvania. Fig trees can be grown both indoors and outdoors, and some people choose to plant them in pots that can be moved inside over the winter. 

Instead of delicate blossoms, fig trees produce inverted flowers. These resemble green spheres that will develop into figs. 

If left alone, fig trees can grow large and bushy, adding a tropical and ornamental look to any garden. Frequent pruning will keep these trees small and neat. Figs are largely pest, disease, and drought resistant.

8. Pawpaw Tree

Pawpaw Tree
Credit: Agnieszka Kwiecien by CC: 4.0

Scientific Name: Asimina triloba 

  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Difficulty: Require little maintenance 
  • Average Mature Height: 15 to 20 feet
  • USDA Zones: 5 to 8

The pawpaw is native to Pennsylvania. Pawpaw fruits belong to the custard apple family and have a taste between that of a mango and a banana. During the spring, these trees boast unusual blossoms of purple-brown flowers. 

The flowers are followed by egg-shaped fruit that are green-yellow when young and brown-yellow when mature. In the fall, the large, ovular leaves turn vibrant yellow and orange before dropping off. 

The pawpaw tree grows best in fertile, well-draining soil that is kept moist. Long, hot summers are required for this species to become a tree and produce fruit. Pawpaws are not grown commercially, so this tree is a great choice if you want to produce a unique and unusual fruit. 

9. Mulberry Tree

Mulberry Tree
Credit: Famartin by CC: 4.0

Scientific Name: Morus rubra 

  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Difficulty: Require little maintenance 
  • Average Mature Height: 30 to 40 feet
  • USDA Zones: 5 to 10

Mulberry trees are abundant across Pennsylvania, growing in a variety of locations from urban areas to rural fields. White mulberries were introduced to the state from East Asia whereas red mulberries are native to Pennsylvania. 

Instead of delicate blossoms, during the spring this tree blooms spikey, green catkins. By the summer, these catkins will have developed into mulberries, which look similar to raspberries or blackberries. 

Once established, mulberry trees require little maintenance. These robust and slow-growing trees can live for hundreds of years. They can tolerate a variety of soil conditions and survive flooding and droughts. 

10. American Persimmon

American Persimmon
Credit: Chris Light by CC: 4.0

Scientific Name: Diospyros virginia 

  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Difficulty: Require little maintenance 
  • Average Mature Height: 30 to 60 feet
  • USDA Zones: 4 to 9

Native to Pennsylvania, the American persimmon is commonly grown as an ornamental tree. It has large, leathery green leaves for most of the year but in the fall, they turn a deep purple-red. During the spring, this tree produces tiny yellow flowers. 

The American persimmon is not widely grown commercially. Its fruits are spherical and yellow-orange in color and have a sweet but rich taste to them. American persimmon trees are ideal if you want fruit that cannot be readily obtained in shops. 

American persimmon trees are easy to maintain and can grow very large. These trees are not fussy about the type of soil they are planted in and are drought-tolerant once established. Sunny conditions will help these slow-growing trees produce large fruit yields.  

Fruit Tree Care 

Below are some tips you can follow to ensure your fruit trees thrive and produce the best yields possible. 

Watering Requirements

Fruit trees require lots of water to produce large, juicy fruits. Ensure the soil is kept constantly moist, but not wet. Fruit trees in containers and those exposed to extremely hot and arid climates will require more watering. 

Position

Fruit trees grown in Pennsylvania will produce the best yields when they are planted in full sun where they can receive plenty of warmth and light. Ideally, fruit trees should be planted in a sheltered location, as harsh winds and frosts can damage roots and fruits. 

Temperature and Humidity

Generally, optimal fruit production requires hot and humid climates. Fruit trees are at their most vulnerable when they begin to bloom in the spring. Covering your tree with a fleece blanket overnight can help protect it from frost.

Soil Conditions

Fruit trees should be planted in well-draining soil that is slightly acidic. Some fruit trees are more tolerant to a range of soil conditions, including apple trees. 

Feeding

Fertilizer promotes healthy growth and fruiting by providing the tree with all the essential nutrients. Most fruit trees need high amounts of potassium is required for bud and fruit development. Mulching will help the soil retain moisture and suppress weed growth. 

Propagation 

You can grow fruit trees from the seeds they produce, but the most common method is grafting. This is where you cut a section of bark from a branch and then wrap it in grafting tape. Eventually, new roots will develop from the cut. 

To find out about growing fruit trees in the shade, click this link

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the largest fruit crop in Pennsylvania?

Pawpaws are the largest fruit that is native to Pennsylvania. These fruits can reach up to 6 inches in length. 

Citations 

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.