Fruit Tree Pollination Guide
Fruit trees need to be pollinated in order to produce a crop. Some varieties are self fertile, so will pollinate themselves. Others need to be be pollinated by a compatible tree of the same species. Don't forget that bees can travel quite a long distance and your fruit tree may well be pollinated by a tree from a neighbouring garden (this is particularly true with apples which are very widely planted). Wild species must also not be forgotten, for example Crabappples are excellent pollinators for many domestic apples trees due to their long flowering season.
Some basic facts:
- A pollinator partners must be trees of the same species but different variety
- Self-fertile trees don’t need a pollination partner to produce fruit. They will pollinate themselves
- Partially self-fertile trees will produce a some fruit by themselves, but a better crop with a pollination partner.
- Self sterile trees need a pollination partner to produce fruit and cannot pollinate other trees
- Triploids - these, unusually, have 3 sets of chromosomes and cannot pollinate other trees (like self-sterile trees). However they tend to be particularly vigorous and disease resistant so have other benefit.
Trees are assigned a pollination group according to when they flower. In order to achieve pollination, the flowering times of the trees must overlap. A tree can be pollinated by another in the same or adjacent pollination groups.
Example: A tree in pollination group 2 can be pollinated by any tree in groups 1,2 or 3. A tree in pollination group 4 can be pollinated by any tree in groups 3, 4 or 5
- If you only have room for one tree, or live in an isolated area without any other fruit trees nearby, go for a self-fertile variety.
- Pollination is vital, but remember it is a natural process and often works without us worrying too much about it!