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Fruit trees for the citrus averse

Not a fan of oranges, lemons or limes? There are plenty of non-citrus species to consider. Read on to learn about them.

Last week we recommended the best fruit trees to grow in San Antonio. While many experts agree that citrus is the premium fruit tree to grow in Bexar County, it’s not your only option. There are plenty of non-citrus species to consider — like peach, apple, pear and fig.

Here I’m sharing some of the best varieties (and my personal recommendations) to try.

If you want to attempt to grow peaches in Bexar and surrounding counties, the trick is to modify your soil with raised beds. Then, try these varieties: ‘Florida King’, ‘June Gold’ and “La Feliciana’.

State universities and private landowners have attempted to grow apples in the Hill Country and points north since the last millennia. But our high alkaline soil and its accompanying soil fungus did all of them in. Plus, fluctuating chilling hours made it difficult to identify the appropriate variety for each locale even when soil was managed properly. Varieties that have shown some promise include ‘Mollies Delicious’, ‘Jonagold’, ‘Anna’ and ‘Gala’.

As for my personal recommendations, I’m fond of pears and figs. Pear trees tolerate all types of soil and weather conditions and they’re less affected by the number of chilling hours. Look for ‘Ayres’, ‘Kieffer’, ‘Moonglow’ and ‘Warren’ varieties in the nursery. Avoid ‘Bartlett’ — that variety is a big no-no in Bexar County.

Figs are incredibly tough, but they do require proper maintenance. The secret to good fig production is keeping the soil moist and nutritious. Every year prune one-third of the tallest and longest limbs, water well once a month, mulch, and fertilize once every other year.

The best fig varieties to look for in your local nursery include ‘Alma’, ‘Brown Turkey’, ‘Celeste’, and ‘Texas Everbearing’.

Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson is a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you’re likely to find him hiking San Antonio’s wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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