A guide to fruit tree pollination

 

Apple blossom - Bountiful Delicate blossom from the Bountiful cooking apple

The science (and sometimes the snake-oil) can run deep when it comes to fruit tree pollination.

You could read endless books and research studies on how to optimise your orchard with a diversity of cross-pollinators to achieve a bumper crop.

For most growers, it's actually pretty straightforward to get the right results. This guide should take the confusion out of how best to pollinate your fruit trees.

In the pollination tables below, first find the variety you're interested in. Then, any tree in the same group, or a group either side, will be a good pollination partner. And where there are important exceptions, we've noted them. Simples!

Jump to:

We hope this guide helps, and here's to some bumper fruit crops in the future.

Apple tree pollination

Apple trees invariably give heavier crops when they are pollinated by other suitable varieties. Generally, apple trees that flower at about the same time will cross-pollinate one another.

There are, however, some rather selfish exceptions! These are called "triploid" apples, because the minimum number of varieties required (including the triploid itself) so that all bear fruit is three; two pollinators to pollinate one another, either or both of which to pollinate the triploid.

Just nine of our apple varieties are triploid, however they do include favourites such as Bramley, Jupiter and Blenheim Orange.

Confused yet? We hope not, and you need not be... below is a really clear cross pollination chart for apples!

Name (click to view our trees!) Use Harvest
Pollination group
Fertility note
Bountiful Cooker / Eater Late Sept

A
Long flowering period – will cross pollinate with trees in Groups B & C
Bardsey Island Eater Late Sept
B
Christmas Pearmain Eater Early Oct
B
Reliably Self fertile
Foxwhelp Cider Sept
B
Irish Peach Eater Mid Aug
B
Keswick Codlin Cooker / Eater Mid Aug - Sept
B
Partially Self fertile
Rosette Eater Aug
B
Tremletts Bitter Cider Early Oct
B
Egremont Russet Eater Late Sept - Early Oct
B
Partially Self fertile
Greensleeves Eater Oct
B
Partially Self fertile
Incompatible with: Lord Lambourne
Reverend W Wilkes Cooker Late Aug - Early Sept
B
Reliably Self fertile
Slack ma Girdle Cooker / Eater
B
Arthur Turner Cooker Late Aug - Nov
C
Partially Self fertile
Lord Lambourne Eater Mid Sept
C
Partially Self fertile
Incompatible with: Greensleeves
Ribston Pippin Eater Late Sept - Early Oct
C
Triploid
Sops in Wine Eater Aug-Oct
C
Spartan Eater Early Oct
C
Reliably Self fertile
Adams Pearmain Eater Early Oct
C
Beauty of Bath Eater Early Aug
C
Fortune Eater Sept
C
Partially Self fertile
Katy Eater Early Sept
C
Yellow Ingestrie Eater Early Sept
C
Christmas Pippin Eater Late Oct
C
Cobra Eater / Cooker Sept-Oct
C
Crispin Eater Mid Oct
C
Triploid
Incompatible with: Golden Delicious
Early Victoria / Emneth Early
Cooker Aug
C
Partially Self fertile
James Grieve Cooker Eater Early Sept
C
Partially Self fertile
Morgan Sweet Cooker / Eater Sept
C
Triploid
Red Windsor Eater Late Sept
C
Red Windsor Eater Oct
C
Saturn Eater Late Sept
C
Reliably Self fertile
Sunset Eater Late Sept
C
Reliably Self fertile
Incompatible with: Coxs Orange Pippin & Jupiter
Tom Putt Cooker Early Sept
C
Catshead Cooker Oct
C
Triploid
Charles Ross Eater / Cooker Mid Sept
C
Partially Self fertile
Coxs Orange Pippin Eater Late Sept - Early Oct
C
Incompatible with: Jupiter & Sunset
Discovery Eater Late Aug
C
Falstaff Eater Early Oct
C
Grenadier Cooker Mid Aug
C
Partially Self fertile
Herefordshire Russet Eater Oct
C
Peasgood Nonsuch Eater Cooker Mid Sept
C
Partially Self fertile
Red Falstaff Eater Early Oct
C
Partially Self fertile
Scotch Bridget Cooker Early Oct
C
Scrumptious Eater Sept - Oct
C
Reliably Self fertile
Worcester Pearmain Eater Mid Sept
C
Partially Self fertile
Blenheim Orange Eater / Cooker Late Sept - Early Oct
D
Triploid
Bloody Ploughman Eater Mid Sept
D
Bramley Cooker Early Oct
D
Triploid
Golden Delicious Eater Late Oct
D
Incompatible with: Crispin
Hoary Morning Eater Cooker Early Oct
D
Howgate Wonder Cooker Early Oct
D
Partially Self fertile
Kidds Orange Red Eater Mid Oct
D
Lanes Prince Albert Cooker Mid Oct
D
Partially Self fertile
Pitmaston Pineapple Eater Early Oct
D
Winter Banana Eater Early Oct
D
Ellisons Orange Eater Mid Sept
D
Partially Self fertile
Jonagold Eater Mid Oct
D
Triploid
King of the Pippins Eater Early Oct
D
Partially Self fertile
Laxton Superb Eater Early Oct
D
Partially Self fertile
Tydemans Late Orange Eater Mid Oct
D
Winter Gem Eater Oct
D
Ashmeads Kernel Eater / Cider Early - Mid Oct
D
Triploid
Chivers Delight Eater Mid Oct
D
Fiesta Eater Late Sept
D
Partially Self fertile
Jupiter Eater Early Oct
D
Triploid Incompatible with: Coxs Orange Pippin & Sunset
Lord Derby Cooker Late Sept
D
Partially Self fertile
Newton Wonder Cooker Mid Oct
D
Partially Self fertile
Norfolk Beefing Eater Mid Oct
D
Taunton Cross Eater Mid Sept
D
Black Dabinett Cider Nov
D
Cornish Aromatic Eater Dec
D
Court of Wick Eater Late Sept
D
Dunkerton's Late Cider Early Nov
D
Fair Maid of Devon Cider
D
Fillbarrel Cider Late Sept
D
Harry Masters Jersey Cider Oct - Early Nov
D
Michelin Cider Oct - Early Nov
D
Somerset Redstreak Cider Oct
D
Sweet Alford Cider Late Oct - Early Nov
D
Sweet Coppin Cider Late Oct - Early Nov
D
Yarlington Mill Cider Late Oct
D
Kingston Black Cider Early Nov
D
Annie Elizabeth Cooker Nov
E
Partially Self fertile
Hereford Redstreak Cider ?
E
Orleans Reinette Eater / Cider Mid Oct
E
Partially Self fertile
Red Pixie Eater Mid Oct
E
Braeburn Eater Late Oct
E
Browns Apple Cider Mid Oct - Early Nov
E
Hangy Down Cider
E
Isaac Newton's Tree / Flower of Kent Cooker Mid Oct
F
Major Cider Late Sept - Early Oct
F
Stoke Red Cider Late Oct
G
Court Pendu Plat Eater Mid - Late Oct
G
Crawley Beauty Cooker Mid - Late Oct
H

 

The superstar apple pollinator!

Introducing the superstar pollinator... the crab apple!

If you're already set your heart on varieties that don't pollinate each other, or if you're planting a large number of trees for an orchard, you can make your life simple (and even more beautiful) by planting a crab apple tree. Just one will help pollinate up to 50 apple trees!

Malus John Downie or Malus Golden Hornet are outstanding for this purpose. These flower freely throughout the pollination season and will partner with any apple in an orchard. As a bonus, Golden Hornet also makes lovely, fragrant crab apple jelly.

 

Pear tree pollination

All pear trees need to be cross-pollinated with another pear variety to make fruit.

As with the apples above, to help you choose the right pear trees to pollinate each other, we have put them into a colour coded table below.

Name (click to view our trees!) Use Harvest
Pollination group
Fertility note
Conference Eating Mid A
Louise Bonne of Jersey Eating Mid A Incompatible with: Williams Bon Chretien
Beth Eating Early B
Beurre Hardy Eating Mid B A poor pollinator for other pears
Brandy Perry Mid B
Glou Morceau Eating Mid B
Merton Pride Eating Early B Triploid: Cannot pollinate other trees
Williams bon Chretien Eating Early B Incompatible with: Louise Bonne of Jersey
Winter Nellis Eating Late B
Cannock Perry Mid C
Concorde Eating Mid C
Doyenne du Comice Eating Mid C Incompatible with: Onward
Humbug Eating / Cooking Late C
Invincible Eating / Cooking Mid C
Onward Eating Mid C Incompatible with: Doyenne du Comice
Sensation Eating Early C
Hellens Early Eating / Cooking Mid D

It's worth pointing out something quite interesting (as Stephen Fry might say?!) on flowering dates versus harvesting dates – they seem to be all over the place!

Trees that flower early or late in the season tend to harvest mid-season. Whereas those that flower mid-season crop either are the later croppers.

So, although you'll be mostly interested in the flowering season in order to ensure pollination, you will still have choices to make as to when you want to harvest your fruits. It's all part of the fun!

Cherry tree pollination

We grow a good range of self-fertile sweet cherry trees that do not need to be pollinated.

However, more than half of our range, including all of the earliest cropping cherries, will need a suitable pollination partner to bear fruit.

As with apples and pears, cherry trees will cross-pollinate with trees in the same group and one group either side.

Name (click to view our trees!) Harvest
Pollination group
Fertility note
Early Rivers Early A Self sterile
Knight's Early Black Mid B Self sterile
Merton Glory Mid B Self sterile
Amber Heart Early C Self sterile
Merton Bigarreau Mid C Self sterile
Van Late C Self sterile
Excellent pollinator
Colney Late D Self sterile
Lapins Cherokee Mid D Self fertile
Bigarreau Napoleon Late D Self sterile
Poor pollinator
Penny Late D Self sterile
Skeena Late D Self fertile
Stella Late D Self fertile
Excellent pollinator
Summer Sun Late D Self fertile
Sunburst Late D Self fertile
Sweetheart V Late D Self fertile
Kordia Mid E Self sterile
Morello (Sour Cherry) Late F Self fertile

 

Plum tree pollination (and gages, damsons…)

Plums, gages, damsons, mirabelles and bullaces are all very closely related trees in the Prunus domestica group. They will all happily pollinate each other, provided they are in flower at the same time.

You know the drill…!

Name (click to view our trees!) Use Harvest
Pollination group
Fertility note Colour
Jeffersons Dessert Late Aug
B
Self sterile Green
Mirabelle Golden Sphere Dual Mid Aug
B
Partially self fertile Yellow
Mirabelle Ruby Dessert Late Aug
B
Partially self fertile Red-Purple
Coe's Golden Drop Dessert Late Sept
C
Self sterile Yellow
Dennistons Superb Dessert Late Aug
C
Self fertile Yellow
Rivers Early Prolific Culinary Late July
C
Partially self fertile Blue
Langley Bullace Culinary Late Sept
C
Self fertile Blue-Black
Merryweather (Damson) Culinary Early Sept
C
Self fertile Blue-Black
Opal Dessert Early Aug
C
Self fertile Purple
Victoria Dual Late Aug
C
Self fertile Red
Cambridge Gage Eat / Cook Mid August
D
Partially self fertile Green
Czar Culinary Early Aug
D
Self fertile Blue
King Damson Culinary Mid Sept
D
Self fertile Purple
Old Greengage Dessert Early Sept
D
Self sterile Green-Yellow
Oullins Golden Gage Dual Mid Aug
D
Partially self fertile Yellow
Shropshire Prune (Damson) Culinary Early Sept
D
Self fertile Blue-Black
Marjorie's Seedling Dual Late Sept
E
Partially self fertile Blue

We hope you've found this blog both informative and genuinely useful in helping you choose your fruit trees. We always value your feedback, so please do leave a comment below.

Happy growing!

One thought on “A guide to fruit tree pollination”

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