Planting A Home Orchard

Question:

 I'm looking to plant a small orchard, but I'm a bit confused. I've read that I must have two trees close to each other for fruit production. Does that mean I need to have two identical trees, or do I need to plant two different varieties, or do they need to be the same?

Answer:

  • This is a great, common question to ask regarding pollination of fruit trees.
  • First, another variety within the same species pollinates individual fruit trees.  Individual fruit trees.
    • For example, an Apple tree can't pollinate an Apricot or any other type of fruit tree. You will need two Cherries, Apples, Apricots, etc. 
    • Some varieties require a specific variety for cross-pollinating purposes to make things even more confusing. For example, Black Tartarian Cherry pollinates Bing Cherry but not the Royal Ann. 
    • There are self-fertile varieties, which do not require a pollinator. Stella Cherry, Yellow Delicious Apple, Blenheim Apricot, and all the peach varieties are examples of self-fertile fruit trees. These trees do not require a second variety of fruit. The website, http://www.pacificgroves.com/explore/fruit_trees_v.html, is an excellent resource for variety-specific information on all fruit and nut trees, including figs, persimmons, pomegranates, grapes, and berries. The nursery professional at your favorite garden center also is an excellent resource. Some excellent home garden varieties are unknown to the general gardening public.
    • When selecting fruit tree varieties, one thing that is commonly overlooked and is the ripening dates. You want to stagger the maturity dates so the crops don't all ripen on top of each other.
    • Also, keep in mind that a semi-dwarf fruit tree will reach a height of fifteen feet with an eight-foot or more spread. This may be too large for many of today's gardens.
      • The Ultra Dwarf Fruit trees are ideal for smaller yards and are available at a limited number of garden centers. They reach a height of seven to ten feet. January and February is an excellent time to make your selections. If you wait until spring, the section in containers will be much smaller.

Question:

I have a Hydrangea plant that is still in its original pot. I want to keep it as a house or porch plant. Is it okay to cut it back at this time? 

Answer:

  • Once Hydrangeas finish blooming, they're typically pruned. However, you can shape them at any time of the year.
  • The newer varieties bloom on both the old and new wood, which allow you to prune anytime. 
  • The older, nature varieties, planted last century bloom on the second year wood. The old spent flowers and stems are cut off as close to the ground as possible. The rest of the plant is trimmed for shape; otherwise, you remove the following season flowering wood.
  • Since you're planning on keeping it as a container plant, you should transplant it into a larger container next spring. Its current pot is not big enough for the long term.