If you want to plant some food-producing woody plants including trees, shrubs, vines, or brambles, this is the post for you and now is the time to order!
Ordering fruit and nut-producing plants can be very overwhelming especially when you have a small space you are working with. Usually, you can only plant a few things so you want to make sure you can get good ones that will do what you need. They are also a much larger commitment of time than annual vegetables. Although some, like brambles, will start producing in just a year or two others like fruit trees and especially nut trees can take quite a few years and there’s nothing more disappointing than taking care of something for years to find out it doesn’t even produce fruit that you like or it has so many pest or disease issues you don’t even get fruit to eat. So, let us give you a few suggestions so that hopefully you have a good starting point and will get good plants that will produce with a reasonable amount of work.
We have created a cheat sheet of our favorite fruit and nut cultivars for St. Louis, which are listed below. These are the plants that we have found to do well in our climate and be the most disease-resistant available cultivars that still have good flavor. This does not mean that other things won’t grow or that you shouldn’t grow them but if you are looking for things that have been tested in St. Louis these are the cultivars for you.
You might notice that most of these are not varieties that you have heard of or see in stores and that’s because, unfortunately, just because it’s sold at the grocery store or just because the plants are sold here does not necessarily mean it’s the best thing to grow here. Most apple varieties that are sold in stores here have horrendous disease issues in our climate. So even if you don’t go with the cultivars we recommend, it will save you a lot of time if when you are selecting a cultivar you select one that mentions it has resistance to as many diseases as possible because our humid summers cause a lot of disease pressure.
The other thing to know about is rootstock. Many, although not all, fruit trees have different sizes they can come in. For example, you might see an option for a standard, semi-dwarf, or dwarf apple tree. Our recommendation is semi-dwarf as they stay a reasonable size to reach everything from the ground and with a picker pole or ladder and are strong enough to not need support. Dwarf trees are nice because they stay small, but their roots are often quite weak so it’s usually best to have them staked for their entire lives to prevent them from just tipping over in a storm.
Last but not least, where to get them? These cultivars are oftentimes difficult to find as they are not the types that people are going into nurseries and asking for. Below is a list of our favorite places to find these things.
Greenscape Gardens: Has a good selection of some of our recommended varieties
Heritage Farm and Fruit Trees: Nursery in Godfrey that has all of our recommended apples
Forest Keeling: Has a great selection of chestnuts and native fruits and nuts
Ames Orchard and Nursery: Has a great selection of grapes but need to drive there
Nourse Farms: Great source for blackberries and raspberries
One Green World
Burnt Ridge Nursery
Grimo Nut Nursery
‘Jahn’s Prairie’ Red Gooseberry
‘Crandall’ Clove Currant
‘Pixwell’ Red Gooseberry
‘Carmine Jewel’ Tart Cherry
‘Hardy Chicago’ Fig
‘Anna’ (aka Ananasnaya)
‘Caroline’ Red Raspberry
‘Niwot’ Black Raspberry