Snail Control, Seed Swap
Native Plant Garden Tour in SF

Exotic Fruit that We Can't Grow Here

If you live near the coast, and are thinking of putting in some fruit plants, you may be tempted by exotic sounding plants you've never heard of, but which are described in such glowing colors in nursery catalogs that you want to believe you can grow these lush growing shrubs with masses of colorful berries. And besides that, you could be the first on your block to grow them, since no one else knows about them! No, I'm not talking about tropicals, but about arctics--plants that hail from the cold north and require more winter chill than we have here.

I have been reading about Seaberry or Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) because a coaching client asked me if it would be a good choice to grow near the coast here. The answer is no, because, though this plant grows well in sandy soils, windy locations, and is tolerant of salt spray, it requires a cold winter to bear well. It can be grown successfully in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and in regions with colder winter than that.

Another fruiting shrub that needs more winter chill than we get is honeyberry (Lonicera kamchatika or maybe it is L. caerulea edulisI ). In any case, it bears teardrop shaped blue berries that are similar to blueberries, though not as sweet. And the catalog I am looking at says it isn't fussy about soils or climate. But alas, without sufficient winter chill, like that in milder intermountain areas east of the Sierra, it isn't going to thrive.

And here is one more, the Nanking Cherry (Prunus tomentosa). This native of Central Asia is popular in Russia, but again, needs more winter chill than our area can provide.

Fruits that gardeners in the areas of Central California with the coolest summers can grow include some kinds of low chill apples and pears, Asian pears, plums, trailing blackberrries, raspberries, citrus (lemons and limes nearest the coast), strawberries, Alpine strawberries, currants, gooseberries, maybe avocados, maybe hardy kiwis.


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