Citrus trees. Lemon trees, lime trees, and orange trees do not do well in the parts of the desert with cold winters, for example, Las Vegas.
Lisbon and Eureka lemon varieties are two good choices for the desert. Lisbon lemon trees are cold resistant, vigorous and thorny. They produce many high-quality fruit. The fruit matures in fall to winter. Eureka trees are cold-sensitive, nearly thornless and produce high-quality fruit. It will bear year round in the low desert.
Although the Washington navel, which is the variety that you will most commonly see in the market, does not produce high-quality fruit in the desert, there are other options.
Cara Cara navel is similar to the Washington navel in taste. It has reddish-pink flesh similar to that of the red grapefruits.
Valencia oranges perform well in the low desert. The fruit is smaller and thinner-skinned than the “Washington” navel. This variety is excellent for juice.
But plums, pomegranates, peaches, apricots and figs — they all grow beautifully.
Apricot trees (Prunus family) reach 15 to 20 feet in height and have pink or white blooms in Spring. Varieties that do well in the desert are: ‘Early Gold’, ‘Blenheim’, ‘Royal’, ‘Chinese’, ‘Tilton’, ‘Floragold’ (a dwarf variety), and ‘Newcastle’. Most of these are self-pollinating and need some winter chill.
Plum trees (Prunus) reach 10 to 15 feet in height and will need a winter chill period to produce abundant fruit. Among the best varieties for our hot, dry climate are two self-pollinators: ‘Beauty’ and ‘Santa Rosa’. The ‘Satsuma’. ‘Burbank’, ‘Howard Miracle’, ‘Mariposa’ and ‘Friar’ can be pollinated by the ‘Santa Rosa’. There are, of course, the ornamental plums, but why grow them when you can grow fruit bearing trees!
Figs (Ficus carica) are big leaf trees that grow fast to 15 to 30 feet in height. They love the heat and do well when planted near a south-facing wall — but not too close. Eventually the tree trunk becomes quite large. Most varieties produce 2 crops a year and, for home garden use, do not need another fig tree to for pollination. The best varieties for the desert are: ‘Black Mission’, ‘Kadota’ and ‘Brown Turkey’.
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