Think About Cross Pollination When Purchasing Fruit Trees


Spring is the perfect time to plant fruit trees.  When selecting fruit trees, it is important to think about cross pollination.  Cross-pollination is the transfer of pollen from one cultivar to the flower of a different cultivar. Many fruit trees are not self-fertile.  For example, the pollen from one "Jonathan" apple tree will not successfully fertilize flowers of another "Jonathan" tree.  Two compatible apple cultivars that bloom at the same time are needed for successful pollination and fruit set.  Hence, it is important to purchase and plant two trees of different cultivars.  This is not always possible due to space limitations.  One way to get around this incompatibility is to by a tree that has been grafted with different cultivars.  Gary Gao noted that several garden centers in Central Ohio carry "3 in 1," which means three different cultivars are grafted on the same tree.  This is an excellent way to ensure cross pollination. 

Sweet cherries and many pear cultivars also require cross pollination.  Sour cherries, peaches and nectarines do not require cross pollination.  Northern highbush blueberries do not require cross pollination.  However, cross pollination is highly beneficial.  It is also important to remember that pollinators are still needed to carry pollen from one flower to next.  Most of our fruit crops are pollinated by bees.  Do not apply insecticides during bloom.

For more information on home fruit production, please refer to OSU Extension Bulletin 940, "Midwest Home Fruit Production Guide."  This bulletin can be purchased from OSU Extension offices or the OSU Extension eStore at