Dwarf Fruit Trees for Small Spaces

on Sunday, 16 January 2022. Posted in Edible, Trees

peaches editThere are few pleasures that compare to picking a sun-warmed homegrown peach, biting into it, and letting the sweet rich juice trickle down your chin. Sadly, that’s an experience that those of us with small yards don’t get to indulge in: full-sized fruit trees just take up too much space!
 
And that’s where dwarf and miniature fruit trees come in. These tiny trees are a great option for space-challenged gardeners who dream of having their own fruit orchard. In fact, many dwarf fruit trees – especially peaches and nectarines – can be grown in large barrels. Best of all, although dwarf fruit trees are small in stature – their fruit (and flavor) are both full-sized. Here are a few of the dwarf fruit trees Shooting Star currently has available in bareroot:
 
garden delicious 2010 1Garden Delicious Dwarf Apple: Self-fertile, 8’ – 10’ tall (smaller with pruning). This mid/late season apple has a superb flavor – sweet and crisp – and is a good keeper.
 
North StarNorth Star Dwarf Cherry: Sour cherry, self-fertile, 8’ – 10’ tall (smaller with pruning). Very productive, with large red fruits; great for pies and cobblers. North Star will often begin to bear in its second year.
 
NectazeeNecta Zee Miniature Nectarine: Self-fertile. A sweet, yellow-fleshed freestone. Heavy bearing and a frequent taste test winner - often referred to as ‘exquisitely flavored’.
 
garden goldGarden Gold Miniature Peach: Self-fertile and late blooming, so a good choice for colder areas. Garden Gold is a freestone peach with a great flavor, and ripens mid/late season.
 
pix zeePix Zee Miniature Peach: Self-fertile, yellow-fleshed freestone. Pix Zee is vigorous to about 6’ tall (smaller with pruning), and bears large, delicious, firm-fleshed fruit.
 
Dwarf fruit trees have the same general requirements as full-sized fruit trees: well-drained soil, and a minimum of 6 hours sun a day during the growing season. If you opt to grow yours in a large container, you’ll need to make sure to keep them watered regularly – especially during summer months. 

Fruiting Shrubs for the Home Garden - Part 1

on Friday, 07 January 2022. Posted in Edible, Shrubs

Cane Fruits: Blackberries and Raspberries

Are you hoping to add a bit more variety into your edible landscape this year? Consider adding some fruiting shrubs into the mix! This week, we’ll look at a few types of cane fruits (blackberries and raspberries) that make a great addition to the home garden.

Cane fruits all have similar cultural requirements. They do best in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter, and prefer a minimum of 6 hours of sun a day (full sun is better). With the exception of Babycakes Blackberry and Raspberry Shortcake, most types of berries grow tall enough to need some sort of trellising system to keep the canes (and fruit) off the ground. All types will benefit from seasonal pruning to maximize productivity.

blackberryCollage

BLACKBERRIES

Natchez: One of the first producers of the season. A vigorous, semi-erect, thornless plant, with consistent yields of large, elongated, flavorful berries. Requires trellis support, especially when fruiting. Pinch out growing tips to control vigor. Ripens Early June. 4-5’ tall.

Triple Crown: A trifecta of flavor, productivity, and vigor, Triple Crown blackberry may outrun any competition as it gets better known. Plants are semi-erect and thornless and do well on trellises. Ripens mid-July to mid-August. Vigorous vines can grow 12-15’ in a season.

Chester: Thornless with semi-trailing habit and large, very sweet, flavorful fruit, even when firm. Begins to ripen just at Triple Crown finishes. Chester is the most winter-hardy thornless blackberry and is very resistant to cane blight. Provide support for the vines. Ripens mid-late summer. 5-10’ tall.

Black Satin: This thornless, heat-tolerant blackberry is a prolific producer of deliciously sweet and juicy, deep blue-black berries. Small, soft pink flowers appear on second-year semi-erect canes in spring, yielding a reliable crop of large blackberries in midsummer. 5-6' tall. Requires support.

babycakes2

Baby Cakes (pictured right): A dwarf, thornless blackberry with a compact habit that is perfect for small spaces and patio containers. In summer, large, classic, and sweet-tasting berries ripen in a series of colorful sprays of fruit, sometimes twice in one season! 3-4' tall x wide.

 

raspberryCollage RASPBERRY 

Fall Gold Raspberry: Very large golden berries of excellent flavor. The berries are too delicate to ship, so you’ll mostly only find them at local grower's markets. Wonderful for eating fresh, highly recommended as a fresh topping for vanilla ice cream! They are especially cold hardy and vigorous variety that is perhaps the tenderest and sweetest raspberry around. A primocane berry that ripens in fall. 4' tall x 3' wide.

Anne: An everbearing raspberry with the largest and best tasting berries of all the golden yellow raspberries. A moderate to high producer in this area, but bears very sweet, tropical tasting, quarter-sized fruit from summer into late fall - the same time as ‘Heritage’. Requires good drainage and benefits from a trellis. 4-5’ tall. 

Caroline: Late summer to fall fruiting. High-yielding plant that produces an abundance of large and delicious berries. Bears on new wood (primocane), and benefits from a bit of afternoon shade. Great in preserves, or for eating fresh off the plant! 3-4' tall and wide.

Heritage: An everbearing red raspberry that is considered the #1 fall variety nationwide. Large berries are firm and of excellent quality. It produces a smaller July crop with heavier production in Early September - the same time as the golden yellow ‘Anne’ raspberry. Good vigor and hardy canes that do not need staking or trellising. Rapidly growing to 5-8' tall.

raspberryShortcake

Raspberry Shortcake (pictured left): A dwarf,thornless, bush-type berry perfect for the patio garden! Raspberry Shortcake gets about 2’-3’ tall and wide and bears abundant crops of delicious, full-sized fruit.

  

 

 

To learn more about the different varieties of fruiting trees and shrubs available here at Shooting Star Nursery, be sure to take a look at the Fruiting Trees and Plants list from our website!

Thuja plicata

on Tuesday, 04 January 2022. Posted in Good for Screening, Conifer, Attracts Pollinators, Native, Evergreen, Trees

Western Redcedar

T plicataThuja plicata, commonly known as Western Redcedar, is native to the Pacific Northwest and a is a popular, sturdy, and graceful evergreen frequently used in tall hedges or as a privacy screen. 

Quinault Lake RedcedarSouthwest Oregon is near the most southern edge of Western Redcedar’s range, which extends north into Washington and British Columbia. The largest Redcedars in the world are true forest giants, and can be found in the rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula, where several trees near 200’ tall by 60’ wide have been found.

Because the climate here in the Rogue Valley is hotter and drier that that of the Olympic Peninsula, plants here will generally get about 50-70’ all and 15-25’ wide at maturity, if left untrimmed.

T plicata 2Western Red Cedars look great when left in their natural shape, but they also respond extremely well to shearing or pruning. They grow at a moderate rate – roughly between 15-24”/year - and are generally pest and disease resistant. They’re also very pollinator-friendly, and serve as host plants for dozens of native butterflies and moths. Once established, Western Redcedar is relatively drought tolerant, and will generally only require deep watering once or twice a month.

As a group, Thujas of multiple species are widely used as hedges and privacy screens. They’re all easy to grow, relatively fast growing, have nice densely pyramidal shapes, and are tolerant of clay soils as long as the soils aren’t soggy. You will want to cage them to protect them from deer when they are young, but they grow quickly enough that you'll only likely going to need to do this for the first few years.

Thuja emerald greenShooting Star Nursery carries several different kinds of Thuja in large pots and as ball & burlap plants: Western Redcedar (T. plicata), Virescens and Excelsa - T. plicata cultivars, Green Giant and Virginian - hybrids of a cross between T. plicata and T. standishii (Japanese Arborvitae), and Emerald Green - a T. occidentalis (Northern White Cedar) cultivar. See the table below for more information. 

Fun fact: One of the common names for Thuja is Arborvitae (Latin for Tree of Life). Early French settlers to North America gave it that name when they encountered an east coast Thuja species (T. occidentalis), and learned from Native Americans in the region of the many uses the plant had: decay-resistant wood for building canoes and houses, sturdy fibrous bark used for clothing and cording, and roots and leaves with a variety of medicinal purposes. 

 Botanical Name Growth Rate/Year  Mature Height  Mature Width 
Western Redcedar  Thuja plicata 15-24" 50-70'

 15-25'

         
 Virescens T. plicata cultivar 18-24" 20-30' 9-12' 
         
 Excelsa T. plicata cultivar  20-36" to 40' 15-20'
         
 Green Giant T. plicata x T. stanfordii 3-5' 25-30' 10-12' 
         
 Virginian T. plicata x T. stanfordii up to 3' 15' 6'
         
 Emerald Green T. occidentalis 12-15" 12-15' 3-4'

Lycium barbarum

on Monday, 27 December 2021. Posted in Berries Attract Wildlife, Attracts Pollinators, Edible, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

Goji Berry

gojiBerry2Also known as 'Wolfberry', the Goji Berry is widely recognized as a superfood - with high nutrient and anti-oxidant properties - makes a great addition to your edible landscape. Both the bright orange-red berries and shiny, oval green leaves are edible with an appealing spicy, nutty flavor. The leaves are traditionally enjoyed as a tea, and the berries can be used as a tea or for snacking, baking, or preserving.

Goji berry is self-fruitful, producing small, purple-pink flowers in late spring/early summer that are highly attractive to the bees. It can take up to two years to bear fruit which will be loved by the birds and other browsing animals. Harvest the small, oval, bright orange-red fruit from summer through fall by shaking each branch so the ripe berries fall onto a large basket or bowl. Avoid touching them to avoid oxidizing the skin which turns them black. It's best to enjoy them fresh, frozen, or dried after washing, or refrigerate the berries unwashed for up to two weeks.

gojiBerryThis is a vigorously growing, thorny bush with woody stems and should be seasonally maintained to keep suckers that grow from the base in check. Luckily, they are well adapted for growing in containers. Deer will be attracted to the edible leaves and berries, but this might be one situation where they could be a welcome helper.

Once established, goji berries are heat tolerant and drought tolerant. They perform best when planted in full sun, (with mid-afternoon shade during the high heat of summer), out of the wind, and in well-draining, neutral to slightly alkaline soil. They can grow 8-12 feet tall and wide at full maturity and can be easily pruned to any desired size.

Arbutus unedo 'Compacta'

on Tuesday, 14 December 2021. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Showy Bark/Stems, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Compact Strawberry Tree

arbutus-unedo-plant-of-the-

Compact Strawberry Tree is one of our favorites for so many reasons: it can tolerate sun or shade, is drought tolerant, provides fall flowers for the hummingbirds, has long lasting, spectacularly colored fruit and wonderfully shaggy bark - and it's also evergreen!

You can easily see how this relative of our native Madrone and Manzanitas gets its common name of Strawberry Tree. The orange and red fruits resemble strawberries, and although the fruit is technically edible, they are more for suited wildlife as they are bland and mealy in texture (Fun fact: the species name unedo is a combination of the Latin words unum meaning "one" and edo meaning "eat" resulting in "I eat only one", in reference to the technically edible, but distinctly untasty fruit!).

Arbutus medThe honey scented, pinkish-white, urn-shaped flowers can appear from fall into early spring and the fruits often come on at the same time or not long after. As with many other fruiting shrubs, some years seem to have heavier fruit set than others - but the fruits are so decorative and long lasting that they don't qualify as messy. With leathery, dark green, oblong leaves, reddish new stems and shaggy auburn bark it is handsome all year.

Compact Strawberry Tree is not the fastest growing evergreen shrub, but it will grow steadily to 5-7' tall and wide (eventually larger). With annual pruning it can be kept tighter and smaller. This is one of those rare plants that is happy in sun or part shade making it a great choice for a hedge with varied conditions. It is also tolerant of various climates and soils.

Arbutus2 treeLooking for something a bit taller, but with all the same great attributes as the Compact Strawberry Tree? The full-sized species - Arbutus unedo - gets about 10-15’ tall and wide at maturity. In its native habitat (Britain and the Mediterranean), Arbutus unedo usually grows as a multitrunked plant, but we also carry single-trunked specimens which make a really lovely small tree.

Arbutus flower and fruitWe have some planted on the north side of our house that have done wonderfully with no supplemental water after their first year and even survived the 7-degree winter with no damage! In extreme cold they will show some damage; so best to plant where they are not completely exposed to cold winds. The winter of 2013, where we got to zero degrees for several nights, proved fatal to some Arbutus and some rebounded after suffering damage on top.

Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' is great in foundation plantings or hedges. You will be hard-pressed to find an evergreen shrub with more year-round interest - plus the hummingbirds will thank you for providing a much-needed winter nectar source!