Are There Fruit Trees That Can Grow Flat Against a Wall

For smaller lawns, growing fruit trees against a wall, called espalier, is an alternative. A time-honored technique in Europe, it has been used for centuries to save space and also to present valuable microclimates for trees. It takes time to train a tree, usually three to five years. Apples (Malus domestica), pears (Pyrus spp.) and plums (Prunus spp.) Have supple wood and are easiest to work with. You can espalier many other fruit trees, however, the more brittle wood takes additional care in prep. Choose dwarf trees for espalier.

Apple Cultivars

When you develop fruit trees against a stone or brick wall, then they remain warmer due to this radiated heat. Especially in light winter areas, this heightens the requirement to choose an apple number with low chill hours. Chill hours are the number of hours below 45 degrees Fahrenheit that the tree has to be able to bloom and produce fruit. Examples include “Dorsett Golden” and “Anna,” both of which develop in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9 and have chill hour requirements between 250 and 300 hours. They require cross-pollination thus plant a tree of each or get a tree with both kinds grafted onto the rootstock. It’s possible to crop 70 apples from an established espaliered tree.

European and Oriental Pears

Both European (Pyrus communis) and Asian pears (Pyrus pyrifolia) are acceptable for espalier. The Oriental pears “Shinseiki,” “Twentieth Century” and “Hosui,” which develop in USDA zones 5 through 9, have low chill requirements. European pears rise in USDA zones 5 through 8 and also have chill demands of 900 hours. For warm winter area espaliers, think about hybrid low-chill requirement connections involving Oriental and European pears like “Kieffer” (Pyrus communis x Pyrus pyrifolia “Kieffer”), which rises in USDA zones 4 through 9. In common with other fruit trees at the rose family, like apple and stone fruits, espaliered pear gives a showy display of spring flowers to brighten up a wall.

Stone Fruits

Fruits with a large, tough central pit, like plums and peaches (Prunus persica), are called stone fruits. Unlike apple and pear trees, which bear on fruiting spurs that last year following year and require less annual pruning, stone fruits create on year old growth and require more upkeep as espaliers. Pruning involves ensuring that a continuous supply of fresh lateral branches develop from the espaliered framework to maintain year-old growth accessible each year. Plum is an exclusion, fruiting on both perennial agendas and year-old growth. To get a plum, think about Japanese plum cultivar “Beauty” (Prunus salicina “Beauty”), which rises in USDA zones 4 through 10. It requires 250 chill hours and is self-fertile. Peaches rise in USDA zones 5 through 9.

Fig Varieties

A great choice for a south-facing wall, figs (Ficus carica) thrive on heat. Choose a smaller-growing cultivar to espalier, since most figs have vigorous growth to over 20 feet tall and are rooted from cuttings rather than grafted to dwarfing rootstock. Try a more informal, open espalier pattern rather than a formal, geometric structure for fig. 1 candidate is “Brown Turkey,” a smaller tree that accepts pruning well. The large, lobed green leaves and vibrant brownish-purple fruit display nicely against a wall. The smaller-growing “Black Jack ” includes a semi-dwarf addiction and sweet, dark-purple fruit. Both cultivars grow in USDA zones 7 through 9. Since fig is dangerous in some areas, check ahead of planting or be sure you choose a sterile cultivar.

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