As desirable as fruit trees are for their beauty, fruit, and shade, it can be hard to determine the best fruit trees for Southern California gardens. Even with hot, dry summer temperatures and wet winter chills, there’s an abundance of fruit trees that thrive in this climate. Keep reading to discover the best fruit trees for you.
Best Fruit Trees for Southern California
1. Best Beginner-Friendly Fruit Tree: Figs
Figs are a delightful Mediterranean fruit that offer a variety of nutrients and health benefits, including aiding digestion and strengthening your bones. Most commercial vendors only sell figs in their dried form, but growing your own fig tree will give you access to fresh figs.
The tree is deciduous, meaning that it loses its leaves. Fig trees bloom twice a year, once in late spring and once in late summer. This means that, in exchange for no early summer shade, you can enjoy biannual harvests from the same tree.
These are among the best fruit trees for Southern California because they prefer a warm climate, with full sun or part shade, and they can survive a drought. They enjoy well-drained soil, and thrive with additional summer irrigation.
Brown Turkey figs and Mission figs are two varieties of the best fruit trees for Southern California. The fruit they grow can range from green to purple. You can grow a dwarf fig tree in a pot for a patio or indoor garden. These will grow to be three to five feet tall.
If you have more space, an outdoor fig tree in the soil can reach an impressive twenty to thirty feet tall. These trees are long-lived and even pest-resistant, so you can enjoy their mildly sweet treats for years.
If you’re ready to get started, it’s easy to find your own Brown Turkey Fig Tree.
2. Best Long-Term Fruit Tree: Avocados
Avocados are beloved by vegans, nutritionists, and Latin cuisine enthusiasts alike. Their folate is a brain-booster for adults as well as babies in utero. Their creamy consistency and fresh flavor are a welcome boost to toast, tacos, and dips. These are some of the best fruit trees for Southern California backyards!
In addition to their lovely fruit, growing avocado trees provides thick canopies of shade and privacy, and will also save you from purchasing expensive commercial avocados.
Hass is a famous avocado variety that is one of the best fruit trees for Southern California. Its fruit holds on to the tree longer than other varieties, meaning that it can be harvested over a longer period of time rather than all at once.
Fuerte and Mexicola are two avocado trees that are cold-tolerant and don’t require any chill to set fruit. Bacon, Zutano, Reed, Gwen, and Pinkerton are additional viable options for this region.
Avocado trees may take years to fruit, but can produce 200 to 300 fruits per tree per year. They do best in well-draining soil, and require a pollination partner.
Diversify your garden and your plate by adding a Hass Avocado Tree to your selection.
3. Best Container Fruit Tree: Lemon
This cheerful fruit will light up your day, even if you only have a patio or balcony for urban container gardening. Gardeners with little to no yard space can still enjoy this classic California fruit tree.
California is famous for citrus, and is the main producer of lemons in the US. Imagine always having your own fresh, tart-and-sweet lemons to squeeze into drinks, salads, and pies.
Like many of the best fruit trees for Southern California, lemons enjoy full sun and well-draining soil. They are cold-tolerant, with bushy growth and widespread roots if planted in the ground. Dwarf lemons will grow happily in a 15-gallon pot, or as small as a five-gallon pot if you don’t mind a little less fruit.
You can bring container lemon trees indoors whenever the winter chill hits, just keep it in a sunny window. Eureka, Lisbon, Meyer, and Pink Lemons are all suitable for the Southern California climate.
Now that you know how adaptable this fruit tree is, you can start your container orchard with a Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree.
4. Best Space-saver Fruit Tree for Yards: Peaches
If you have a modest yard and would like a fruit tree that won’t consume your space, a peach tree is perfect for your Southern California gardening. These are some of the best fruit trees for Southern California because of their low chill factor, meaning that they don’t need much cold weather exposure.
You can choose from a vast selection of Earligrande, Florida Prince, Desert Gold, Babcock, Tropic Snow, Early Amber, May Pride, Santa Barbara, Bonanza, and Double Jewel peaches.
What peach tree could be more appropriate for a native Californian than the Santa Barbara Peach Tree? A dwarf variety will grow from five to seven feet tall, and produces delectably sweet fruit with a burgundy exterior and bright yellow flesh.
5. Best Native Fruit Tree: Plums
For gardeners with a mind for Indigenous and native gardening practices, plum trees are an amazing choice for native landscaping. Although popular varieties include the Japanese plum and the European plum, which are non-native, they still adapt well to the region.
Plum trees tolerate several soil types, although they prefer deep, loamy soil that drains well. They also thrive with six to eight hours of full sun. How do you know these are amongst the best fruit trees for Southern California? This region provides more than 70% of US plums.
The Santa Rosa plum is a hybrid of Japanese plums and a mystery mix of plum cultivars native to California. It’s well-suited for the region and easy to grow. The Sierra plum is a variety of native plum tree that is one of the best fruit trees for Southern California, and is also known as the Oregon plum.
To add some delicious fruit to your native landscaping, you can buy a Native American Plum Tree .
6. Best Thriving Fruit Tree: Jujube
These wonderfully drought-tolerant trees grow from 15 to 30 feet in height, and produce fruit with a flavor reminiscent of apples when eaten fresh, or dates when they are dried. These are truly some of the best fruit trees for Southern California, as they require little rainfall, withstand poor soil without fertilizer, and are usually not bothered by pests.
As adaptable as they are, Jujube trees will benefit from extra summer irrigation. It’s also important to note that their small, round fruit grows between branches lined with thorns. So be prepared for some careful harvesting.
Li and Sugar Cane are the best varieties for Southern California. So expand your thriving garden with this resilient Sugar Cane Jujube Tree.
7. Best Medicinal Fruit Tree: Apples
Apples carry a bounty of magnesium, iron, and potassium, as well as Vitamins B, B2, and C. The root bark of apple trees has been used as a fever remedy for centuries. Peeled apples can relieve gastric discomfort, while stewing unpeeled apples acts as a laxative.
Regular apple consumption can help encourage peaceful sleep, reduce stomach acid, and cleanse your liver. Apple cider also balances gut flora for a healthier body biome.
Apples are some of the best fruit trees for Southern California because they can join your orchard in autumn and survive the frost, unlike other fruit trees. These signature fruits range from yellow and green to red in color, and may be sweet or tart in flavor. Commercially-grown apples can never compare to the crisp, juicy bite of a homegrown apple.
Apple trees grow best in well-drained, sandy loam soils. Gardeners should also plant a companion tree of a different variety, to encourage fruiting, as most apple trees need to cross-pollinate.
Pettingill apples are a low-chill fruit tree with fruit that is slightly acidic. Gordon apples are another low-chill fruit tree that are self-fruitful, meaning that they can produce apples without cross-pollination. Both varieties are some of the best fruit trees for Southern California.
Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala, Red Delicious, Rome Beauty, and Winesap are other varieties that are suitable to weather the challenging climate. Enjoy the scrumptious and healing qualities of apples from your own garden whenever you buy a Fuji Apple Tree.
8. Best Self-Fruitful Fruit Tree: Apricot
Apricot is one of the best fruit trees for Southern California because it’s easy to grow, carries aromatic white and pink blossoms in the springtime, and yields a summer harvest that is juicy and sweet. The medium-sized fruit has a vibrant orange color that’s a delight to behold.
This tree is deciduous, losing its leaves and becoming dormant in the winter. The trees have a low chill factor, and normally grow from 10 to 15 feet or larger.
Best of all, apricot trees are self-fruitful. So you can successfully nurture your own apricot harvest without needing to invest the money, time, and space that multiple trees require. Tropic Gold is a successful variety for Southern Californians, but Royal Blenheim is the most popular apricot for the state.
Begin enjoying fresh apricots by discovering for yourself exactly how regal the Royal Blenheim Apricot Tree can be.
Wrapping Up the 8 Best Fruit Trees for Southern California
The arid summer climate and wet winters of Southern California can be difficult to plan a garden around. Luckily, you’re now familiar with some of the iconic Southern California fruit trees, including lemons, avocados, and plums. The best fruit trees for Southern California are those that are hardy in the face of full sun and intense heat, have a low chill factor, and love well-drained soil.
Select one of these fruit trees to add to your at-home orchard, or take a drive to visit the best apple orchards in California and take notes from professionals. Enjoy the variety of flavors, colors, and aromas that these fruit trees can add to your Southern California garden.
After enjoying your fresh fruit from your backyard, check out this list of fun things to do in Anaheim, California!