Plant a Fruit Salad: Four Different Fruits Growing on the Same Tree
Grow a fruit salad tree with four different fruits on one tree - no kidding
I have always been obsessed with a fruit salad tree -- a multi-grafted tree that produces four or more different fruits on one tree trunk. The thought always fascinated me and the hybrid tree would make an interesting subject for my garden. First and foremost, I will not need an orchard to produce peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots and worry about what to do with the bushels of fruits. A multi-grafted fruit salad tree is ideal for limited garden space and takes up a fraction of the area. It is also self-pollinating because the flowers bloom at the same time. Imagine the thrill of picking four different fruits off the same tree.
Follow me in my latest adventure in my Spring garden with the introduction of my fruit salad tree.
All photos were taken by Bakerwoman (that's me)
So what really is a fruit salad tree? - It is a multi-grafted tree of several fruits from the same family on one tree
A multi-grafted apple tree can have Anna, Dorsett golden, Fuji, and Gordon on the same tree because these belong to the same family of apples. You can have a 3-in-1 cherry tree, 5-in-1 citrus tree with lemons and key limes, tangelos, pomelos, mandarin oranges or 4-in-1 plum tree with four varieties of plums. But you cannot expect to find a combination of lemon, apple and cherry grafted on the same trunk because these do not belong to the same family of fruits.
I chose a 4-in-1 stonefruit fruit salad tree for my garden. Babcock white peach, Late Santa Rosa plums, Blenheim apricot, and Fantasia nectarines --these colorful labels with pictures of the four stonefruits reassured me that one day soon I will be harvesting these juicy fruits from this tree in one-quarter of the space. The multi-grafted fruit tree is also self-pollinating, which means each type pollinate each other and prolong the harvest season.
Spring - Feb. 12, 2012 - The arrival of the 4-in-1 fruit salad tree
The fruit salad tree did not look like much when this was first planted in my garden. It was about 4 ft. tall with a bunch of leafless multi-grafted branches onto one rootstock. There were four labels with colorful pictures of a specific fruit attached to each branch.This was so I could tell which branch belonged to a certain stonefruit. The biodegradable pot it came in is supposed to fall apart and blend into the soil eventually. This was the ideal sunny location I chose for the stonefruit tree with ample room to grow and expand.
A month later - March 18, 2012 - Still twiggy with some signs of life
Much to my relief, the fruit salad tree is still alive and thriving. Leaves have sprouted from each of the multigrafted branches. Small pink flowers of the Babcock peach have emerged. The other branches did not have any blossoms. The invasive vinca minor groundcover with purplish-blue flowers has worked its way around the pot. Not much has happened in 2012.
There were 3 low-hanging apricots which quickly disappeared within days. I can only imagine who the suspects could be -- the resident raccoon or the rambunctious furry squirrel looking for nuts. The low-lying branch of the apricot close to the ground was then lopped off to keep the tree from becoming lop-sided. Since different fruit trees grow at varying rates, it is important to keep all the branches balanced by pruning them back so one type will not dominate another.
The large pictured labels have been removed and set aside and only the white plastic tags retained for quick identification of the different fruit branches. These are supposed to be removed after a year, but I loosened them up around the branches and decided to keep them longer to avoid confusion.
Apricots, nectarines, plums and peaches on a single trunk - Grow a fruit cocktail tree in your garden and amaze your neighbors
Create an interesting subject in your garden with a 4-in-1 fruit tree. Shipped almost full size, this rare hybrid tree will grow to 10-15 feet and astound your friends and neighbors. It is a space saver for small gardens taking a one-quarter of the space and can be grown in a pot or in the ground. Better still, give one as a gift to Mom on Mother's Day or birthdays. It will be a gift that will keep on giving. Every time your friends or love ones take a bite out a fruit, they will think about you.
Springtime of 2013 - a year later
The fruit salad tree showed more promise with an explosion of beautiful blossoms in the garden. Although these were short-lived, it was a sign of good things to come.
Prunus armeniaca 'Blenheim' apricot flowers - Display of whites with hints of reds
Fantasia nectarine 'Prunus persica nucipersica' flowers - Like the blush of babies' pink cheeks
Prunus salicina 'Santa Rosa' plum flowers - Showy fragrant white flowers in Spring
Prunus persica Babcock peach flowers - Beautiful haze of five-petaled blooms
May 2013 - The fruit salad tree came to life - Plums, apricots, peaches and nectarines
The tallest branch of the Bleinheim apricot has reached 6 ft in height above the crown by now. The April showers and my weekly deep watering certainly helped keep this tree healthy and happy. To keep the moisture from evaporating, I applied the unused feline pine pellets over the top of the pot to serve as mulch. Squirrels supposedly detest the pungent smell of pine, so the pine pellets should them from stealing the fruits before these are ripe.
If you stare closely at the photo, you will notice the still green Santa Rosa plums on the left upper branches and Bleinheim apricots on the right upper branches. The two lower branches have the Babcock peach and nectarines.
Let's take a closeup look
Santa Rosa plums - Prolific grower of the bunch
Santa Rosa plums has the signature purplish crimson skin with light freckling when ripe. Harvest time is around late June. Make plum and muscat gelato or plum oatmeal madeira cake.
Babcock white peach - The signature fuzzy outer skin
Babcock peach is a freestone peach and has a snow-white flesh which will easily fall away from the pit when eaten. The peach is sweet when just picked from the tree and non-acidic.These will be ripe for picking around July 7-July 20. Think peach cobbler.
Blenheim (Royal) apricots - Only 17 calories each
Blenheim Royal apricots have been grown in the Santa Clara Valley region of California since the 1900s. Its name traces its roots to the Luxembourg Gardens of Paris and the Bleinheim Palace in England. It is a good choice for a mild climate and has a fragrant aroma and is sweet and tart.
Blenheim apricots ripen from the inside out and take longer to mature than other apricots. These soon-to-be pale-orange apricots are ready for fresh eating around late June. These are great dried or canned, as savory stuffing for duck and pork. Fruit tarts, anyone?
Apricots are high in beta carotene and lycopene, Vitamins A and C. Great for your waistline too with only 17 calories each.
Fantasia nectarine - Late bloomer of the stonefruit quartet
So far, this is the only nectarine that made its debut on the lower branch. It is the late bloomer of the stonefruit quartet. Harvest time will be around late July/early August to the first half of September.
Here's a quick and easy salad recipe for the hot summer days--
Toss sliced fresh nectarine, chopped green onions, fresh mushrooms, fresh dill, dash of salt and pepper, vinegar dressing and serve in lettuce cups.
Come back soon for more updates on the fruit salad tree
Since ripening times are staggered for the peach, apricot, plums and nectarines, I will be posting more pictures as the time comes. Do stop by to see the ripened fruits of this rare hybrid multi-grafted tree.
Safeguarding the unripe fruits until harvest time - Protecting my prized possession - May 9, 2013
To protect the unripe fruits from being poached by predators, I cut strips of aluminum foil and hung them on the branches with Christmas decoration hooks. This may deter the birds who are frightened by the shiny aluminum strips fluttering in the wind, but will this keep the hungry squirrels out? This will remain to be seen.
Fruit salad tree is ablush with rosy cheeks - June 15, 2013 - The waiting game
Here is a progress report on the stonefruit fruit salad tree. The strips of aluminum foil have succeeded in thwarting the birds from pecking the fruits. Half a bag of feline pine donated by my late cat which I used as mulch for the tree kept the squirrels at bay due to its pungent pine odor. A bamboo stake has been added to support one of the Santa Rosa plum branches which appeared to need help. Babcock white peaches have lost their fuzzy skin and have grown bigger with a rosy tinge. The Blenheim Royal apricots are enjoying a heyday of blushing beauties and will most likely be ready for harvesting at the end of June.
Can you identify the different stonefruits on the fruit salad tree from the picture?
Santa Rosa plums are beginning to turn purple - Lost a bunch
This prolific bunch of Santa Rosa plums paid the price of losing 10 plums when one of the branches broke from being weighed down. In a workplace, this would be like reducing the headcount. Even after I added a bamboo stake to support the partly broken branch and taped it with duct tape, Mother Nature decided to downsize our fruit salad tree.
Santa Rosa Plums are ready to harvest late in July. By this time the skin would have tuned purple, gives a bit, and pulls away from the branch with a slight twist. Plums should be picked with the stem attached to them.
Blenheim 'Royal' Apricot - best tasting apricot in California - Short shelf-life but worth the wait
These Blenheim Royal apricots have turned yellowish-orange but still firm to the touch and will likely be ready for picking last week of June to first week of July. These delicate fruit has a high sugar content and make excellent dried fruits.
Today, Royal Blenheim orchards are fewer in Northern California due to the cheaper dried apricots from Turkey which are one-quarter of the cost. This is all the more a good reason for me to wait for this short-lived heirloom apricot to ripen and be enjoyed.
Accounting for the stonefruits
With a tiny multi-grafted stonefruit tree, it is so easy for me to keep track of the number of fruits.
One of the five Babcock white peaches
Lost the one and only nectarine
There have been no new growths of nectarine after the one-and-only nectarine fell off.
What a difference a week makes - Stonefruit fruit salad tree - June 22, 2013
The summery warm weather has been kind to the stonefruit fruit salad tree as the apricots, plums and peach continue to get bigger and turn color. To the left of the tree are the Blenheim apricots, the Santa Rosa plums take center stage, and Babcock white peach can be seen peeking out on the right.There are no nectarines this time after the sole fruit fell off. Maybe next year.
The bamboo stake was added to support a branch of 10 plums but to no avail. The branch broke anyway due to gusty wind. So far the fruit salad tree is performing well and I am most pleased.
Blenheim apricots should be ready for fresh eating in a few more days.
June 23, 2013 - First four apricots to ripen on kitchen counter for a couple of days
Santa Rosa plums showing their true color
June 30, 2013 - First harvest of Blenheim apricots and Santa Rosa plums
The weather has been scorching hot which hastened the ripening of the apricots and plums. These are not your supermarker-sized fruits but look more like miniatures.
June 30, 2013 - Ripe Blenheim apricots and Santa Rosa plums - The hot weather helped hasten the ripening
It looks like the stonefruit fruit salad did not disappoint and delivered some fruits.The Blenheim apricots were jammy sweet and juicy even if these were the size of golf balls.There more of the apricots in the fruit salad tree than Santa Rosa plums . I was only able to pick the plums that readily came off with a slight twist. Babcock peach still has a ways to go.
The good news is that I did not lose any of the fruits to birds, squirrels or raccoons. What a blessing.
Babcock white peach has grown larger with a redder skin and may have to wait a few more weeks.
July 4th harvest - First Babcock white peach ripened
This is a cereal bowl full of Blenheim apricots, Santa Rosa plums and the first Babcock white peach which finally ripened. All the apricots have been harvested from the tree except for a handful of plums which needed more of the hot weather to ripen. It is also the 4th of July and this may be the reason why most of the fruits are declaring their independence from the tree.
The Babcock peach stands out among the rest being the largest fruit and happens to be one of the five fruits in the stonefruit fruit salad tree. There were no nectarines time. Maybe next year.
We have been so blessed to watch the stonefruit fruit salad tree come to fruition bringing us sweet juicy fruits to our table.
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Have you ever heard of a fruit salad tree?
How to graft a fruit tree with a variety of fruits - Watch how it is done
Indispensable books on budding,grafting and multi-grafting fruit trees
This book shows you step-by-step instructions on how to graft and bud fruit trees which is now the preferred commercial way of propagation. Introduces the reader to the tools-of-the-trade for budding, grafting and multi-grafting.
Questions & Answers
I got a cocktail tree last spring (Plum, peach and pear) and I am getting flowers already this spring! I just bought a second tree today, (nectarine, apricot, cherry and prune). I was not sure how long the wait would be for fruit, but I'm excited to learn how you got some after the second season?
The ripening of each kind of fruit is staggered, sometimes a month apart, so these cannot all be harvested at the same time. On my first year, the tree did well with plums, apricots, peaches and nectarines. On the second year, there were a lot of plums and a few apricots, but no peaches or nectarines. I believe the birds got to them before I did. I have used strips of aluminum foil hanging on the branches to scare the birds, and it worked the first year. Some were blown by the wind, and so I need to apply more.