Owning your fruit tree is a wonderful experience, but it’s not always easy if you have a heavily shaded yard. Though all trees require sunlight to grow and thrive, there are a few types of fruit trees that will still grow well in partial shade.
Fruit trees that don’t require full sun are plum, pear, cherry, and juneberry trees. Each of these trees will tolerate being planted in the partial shade well. Most of these trees need only 6 hours of sunlight per day. However, the more sun a tree gets, the better the fruit production will be.
In the rest of this article, I will discuss the different types of fruit trees that grow well in shadier spaces. You will be surprised by how many great fruits are on the list. So if you want to learn more about trees that don’t require full sun to grow, read on.
1. Plum Tree
Plum trees are relatively resilient plants, and their fruit is pretty sweet. Technically plum trees grow best in full sun; however, many gardeners report success in only partial sun. Partial shade is preferable if you live in a dryer climate with harsh sun.
There are wide varieties of plum trees, the most popular for home gardens being the Victoria and the Avalon. However, it’s always a good idea to check that the plum tree type you purchase is suited for your gardening zone.
The exact origin of the plum tree is thought to be from China as early as 470 BC. However, these trees are now found worldwide. Most varieties of plums today originated from two lines of plum trees, the Japanese and European. However, there is also an American line of plum trees, which is far less common.
Below is a graph of popular plums descending from Japanese, European, and American plum varieties:
|Japanese Plum Varieties||European Plum Varieties||American Plum Varieties|
|Black Amber||Damson||American Native|
|Black Beauty||French Prune||Alderman|
|Early Golden||Green Gage||Underwood|
|Ruby Queen||Sugar Plum||Toka|
|Santa Rosa||Cherry Plum||Tecumseh|
As you can see, there are several varieties to choose from based on where you live. Additionally, each plum type will have a vastly different taste and shape. So it’s essential to choose a tree that will fit your preference and yard. For example, remember plums are tolerant to shady yards but require some sun to produce healthy fruit.
2. Pear Tree
Another excellent fruit tree that will tolerate less sun is the pear tree. Of course, there are wide varieties of pears. However, most will do well with about 6 hours of sunlight daily. There are several sizes of pear trees to choose from, so you will have no problem fitting this sort of tree into a smaller yard.
Additionally, pear trees are resilient and rarely suffer from illness or pest infestations. However, pears require loamy, well-draining soil to thrive, so it’s essential to use high-quality soil before planting.
Pear trees originated in southeastern Europe and became popularized by the Greeks and Romans. Now there are over 3,000 varieties of pears in the world. However, some types are more popularly grown in yards and gardens.
Popular varieties of pear trees include:
Each pear tree type is easy to grow in home gardens. Additionally, pear fruit is versatile and can be turned into many tasty treats like jam, fruit leather, or canned pears.
3. Cherry Tree
Cherries are one of the most delicious fruit trees you can grow, and fortunately, most varieties will tolerate not being planted in full sun. However, cherries indeed produce the best in full sun. Along with producing sweet fruit, these trees are also aesthetically pleasing with their stunning cherry blossoms.
Unfortunately, cherry trees are highly susceptible to root rot and require soil that drains exceptionally well. Overwatering must also be avoided to prevent water from sitting on the tree’s roots.
There are over 400 varieties of cherry trees that produce delicious berries. Of those types of trees, there are several that are ideal for home gardens.
The best cherry tree varieties to grow are:
- Utah Gold.
- English Morello.
These cherry trees are an excellent option for planting a succulent fruit tree in a yard without full sun. Additionally, many cherry trees are self-pollinators and don’t require other trees to produce fruit. However, planting more than one of these trees helps create better fruit through pollination.
4. Juneberry Tree
The juneberry tree, or shadbush, can reach over 25 feet (7 meters) in height. This plant comes in both a bush and tree variety, which is excellent when planting in small spaces.
The juneberry fruit appears similar to blueberries. However, the plant is a closer relative of apple and pear trees.
Juneberry fruit is not widely commercialized and is, therefore, more common in home gardens. Initially, the fruit was used by Native Americans since the tree is native to the northwestern part of North America. The juneberry is often turned into wine, jam, or jelly.
These trees are known for their resilience to disease, harsh weather, and stress. The tree is also pretty easy to grow, which is a plus. The juneberry plant also has distinctive white flowers that are star-shaped.
The most commonly grown variety of juneberry or serviceberries are:
Not only are these tree berries delicious, but they also do fantastic in partial shade or full sun. So you can plant the tree anywhere, and it will thrive in your yard. However, these plants do best in gardening zones 4-8.
5. Mulberry Tree
Mulberry trees are another fantastic fruit tree that doesn’t require a ton of sun to thrive; however, they will also do well with plenty of sunlight. These trees are prevalent in neighborhoods and even at old parks. However, the berries these trees drop can undoubtedly make a mess during the spring.
These trees occur in the wild but have since become cultivated trees. However, you typically won’t see these berries in your local grocery store. The berries from the tree closely resemble a long blackberry, though the colors range from black to bright red.
While the berries are delicious, keep in mind that they can also be a bit of a challenge because they fall easily and stain nearby walkways and yard decor. So, if you don’t want to spend quite a bt of time clearing up the resulting mess, it’s essential to be strategic when choosing where you grow this tree.
The mulberry tree is native to Asia and North America and is a source of nutrients for silkworms. These trees were initially used to improve silk production in China, but the fruit has since become a popular treat.
Some of the best varieties of mulberry trees include:
- White Mulberries.
- Red Mulberries.
- Black Mulberries.
- Himalayan Mulberries.
Each variety will do great in your low-light yard. However, the black mulberry is highly regarded for its lovely blend of sweet and tart flavors. Plus, it’s a great addition to any pie, ice cream, or jam.
However, it’s important to remember that these plants still require some sun, or your trees will end up leaning toward the light and possibly become crooked. [Why Do Some Trees Grow Crooked?]
6. Pawpaw Tree
You probably haven’t heard of the pawpaw tree, but this fruit-bearing tree will also do well without being planted in full sun. Additionally, the fruit is unique and tastes quite sweet if you live in a gardening zone where it will grow. The papaw tree thrives in zones 5-8.
This unique tree is native to native to the eastern United States and Canada. The tree has large oval-shaped leaves that densely cover its branches. The fruit closely resembles an unripe mango in shape and inside color.
The fruit of the pawpaw tree is known for its strange blend of the following fruits:
Texture-wise, the fruit is often compared to custard as its flesh is soft and creamy. The fruit also has a few large seeds in the center, which can easily be removed rather than eaten. Typically this fruit isn’t found in stores but in the forest or grown in someone’s garden.
7. Crab Apple Tree
Finally, there is the crab apple tree. There are wide varieties of crabapple trees, all resilient and will grow well pretty much anywhere they’re planted. These trees grow in the wild or in many suburban yards. These trees are typically small but still manage to provide excellent shade.
The crab apple fruit is quite tart and not great for eating unless cooked. However, the fruit is tasty once heated and does exceptionally well in jams, jellies, and pies. Crab apples are also used to make vinegar for cleaning or cooking.
These trees are said to have originated in Kazakhstan but have since spread worldwide. The fruit does a great job feeding local wildlife and can be an excellent addition to your food storage once cooked.
Common types of crab apple trees to grow include:
- White Cascade.
These are all great varieties of crab apples. However, the most common type you will encounter is the John Downie which produces beautiful flowers and orange-red fruit in the fall.