12 Dwarf Fruit Trees For Small Garden Spaces

Are you looking for a dwarf fruit tree to place in a smaller garden area? These days, a compact growing space isn't necessarily so limiting. There are actually plenty of small fruit trees you can plant, depending on your hardiness zone. In this article, gardening expert Merideth Corhs looks at some of her favorite fruit trees that come in smaller sizes.

dwarf fruit trees

Do you have a small space in your garden that you’d like to fill up with a fruit tree, but aren’t sure which type to choose? Luckily, having a smaller area to plant in doesn’t limit you too much as to which types of fruit you can plant. There are many compact fruit trees, also known as “dwarf fruit trees” that take up a smaller footprint.

The geographic location you are growing in plays a much larger role in the type of tree you can grow compared to space. So, now that you know space isn’t necessarily a limiting factor, which type of compact fruit producing tree should you plant? Should you go with peaches? Or grow some apple trees perhaps?

Keep on reading to find some of our favorite dwarf fruiting trees you can plant. We’ve hand picked some of the top trees you can plant, with names, pictures, and the best USDA hardiness zones for each!

About Compact Fruit Trees

Bright orange sweet ripe oranges hanging on the branches of an orange tree in a sunny garden.
Dwarf fruit trees grow up to 10 feet and provide an abundance of smaller fruit.

Dwarf fruit trees mature to be only 8 to 10 feet tall. They provide an abundance of smaller-sized fruit and can do so with a relatively small amount of space. They’re easy to care for, reach fruiting maturity earlier than larger trees, and can sometimes even be grown in containers.

But how are fruit trees dwarfed? Is it a marvel of genetic engineering? Not at all! Dwarf fruit trees are created by an old-fashioned manual process called grafting. This horticultural technique is a form of asexual reproduction that joins the parts of two or more living trees together.

Horticulturists identify fruit tree varieties with desirable characteristics and join them with a compatible rootstock. To accomplish this, they take a cutting of branches with budding tips from the upper portion of the parent tree – the scion – and join it to the rootstock of another compatible tree. Horticulturists choose a particular rootstock for its natural characteristics like hardiness, disease resistance, and size control.

The joined area callouses over as the trees heal, forming a single merged entity.

Best Fruit Trees With Small Footprints

When choosing a tree, check to see if it will grow well in your climate. Some trees prefer colder climates and do fine with frost and snow. Others thrive in more tropical settings. But the great thing about dwarf trees is that you can often plant them in containers and move them indoors during the winter.

Also, be sure to pay special attention to the traits of each tree. Look for disease resistance, pruning requirements, heat/cold tolerance, and whether it’s self-fertile or needs a partner tree nearby to bear fruit.

Columnar Apple Tree

There are many ripe red apples growing on a Columnar Apple Tree in the garden. Ripe green grapes grow in the background.
Columnar apple trees reach only 8-10 feet in height and produce juicy, sweet, full-sized apples.
  • Growing Zones. USDA zones 4-9
  • Chill Hours. 800-1200
  • Height. 8-10 feet
  • Fruit Production: 1 year
  • When to Harvest: September

Columnar apple trees are a great option for suburban yards and apartment dwellers. They grow between 8 and 10 feet tall but only spread about 2 feet wide! These impressive trees can create a ‘column of apples’ if planted in a row, which appears quite stately. Even better than the size, you’ll be able to harvest full-sized apples from these trees the first year you plant them.

Popular varieties include Northpole, similar to a McIntosh apple, and Golden Sentinel, similar to Golden Delicious.

Since apple trees aren’t self-pollinating, plan to plant at least two in the same space. And be aware that Columnar apples require pruning to keep their shape. In most climates, you should plan to plant in the spring, warmer climates can allow for fall planting.

Cameron Select Apple Tree

Ripe red Cameron Select Honeycrisp apples grow on an apple tree branch in the orchard.
This traditional dwarf apple variety produces bright red, sweet fruits with a tart flavor.
  • Growing Zones. USDA Zones 3-6
  • Chill Hours. 800-1000
  • Height. 8-10 feet (dwarf); 12-15 feet (semi-dwarf)
  • Fruit Production: 2-5 years
  • When to Harvest: Mid-October

The Cameron Select is a more traditional dwarf apple tree variety. It grows to a height and width between eight and ten feet tall and is one of the most vigorous and hardy apple trees you can plant.

The flavor is very similar to the popular Honeycrisp apple (a favorite in our household!). Bright red fruit is sweet with a hint of tartness and is exceptionally crisp. The apples will be the most flavorful if left to ripen on the tree until mid-October. This is an excellent apple for eating, baking, and sauces.

Elberta Peach Tree

Fruity Elberta Yellow Peach tree with large yellow fluffy fruits with red firm yellow flesh. The gardener's finger moved the leaves to show the fruit of the peaches closer.
This variety of dwarf peach trees grows up to 10 feet tall and produces incredibly juicy and soft fruit.
  • Growing Zones. USDA zones 5-9
  • Chill Hours. 750
  • Height. 8-10 feet
  • Fruit Production: 3-4 years
  • When to Harvest: Early July

Nothing says summer like biting into a ripe, juicy peach. Elberta peach trees are a great option to enjoy this tasty fruit at home. Growing to only 8-10 tall, it’s a manageable size for most yards. While peach trees are self-pollinating, you’ll benefit from having another nearby to maximize yield.

Elbertas are an heirloom peach variety that sports large, juicy, sweet fruit that is ideal for eating, freezing, canning, or making preserves.

Note that annual pruning is necessary since peach trees only bloom and bear fruit on branches at least a year old. Pruning the trees back as much as 40% is necessary each year to stimulate new growth for the following season.

Older branches will eventually stop producing flowers and fruit, so focus on cutting these back to make way for new fruiting branches.

Conference Pear Tree

Dwarf Conference pear trees grow in long rows in a large garden in full sun. The trees are full of ripe and juicy pears on the branches.
These semi-dwarf pear trees produce a lot of dark yellow fruits with a buttery texture.
  • Growing Zones. USDA zones 5-8
  • Chill Hours. 200-800
  • Height. 12-15 feet
  • Fruit Production: 4-6 years
  • When to Harvest: September – October

Pears are a popular fruit tree to grow for many gardeners. As such, finding a variety that has a smaller footprint is a bit easier compared to other types of fruit.

Conference pear trees are semi-dwarf and can grow as tall as 15 feet. Since you’ll need two of these for pollination, be sure you have enough space to accommodate them! The tree is incredibly prolific and produces large amounts of fruit that cluster like bananas.

Conference pears are medium-sized, slender, and have a deep yellow color when fully ripe. This variety has a beautiful buttery texture and holds up well to canning. The flavor profile is juicy and sweet with slight acidity; very similar to muscat wine.

Damson Plum Tree

Blue ripe plums on a Damson Plum tree branch in an orchard on a sunny summer day.
This tree variety is self-pollinating and produces dark purple fruits with delightful tartness.
  • Growing Zones. USDA Zones 5-7
  • Chill Hours. 600
  • Height. 10 feet
  • Fruit Production: 3-4 years
  • When to Harvest: August – October

Like peaches, plums are a stone fruit and can be a beautiful addition to your garden. While most plum tree varieties are not self-pollinating, Damson is. So if you only have room for a single tree, it may be a great fit.

White flowers blossom later in the spring than most other fruit trees, making the tree less prone to frost damage. The fruit is a dark purple-blue with delightful tartness. Damon plums are delicious to eat, in desserts, and in preserves.

Stella Cherry Tree

Closeup of Stella cherry tree with many ripe red cherries hanging on a branch and blurred background.
Stella cherry trees bloom with delicate white-pink flowers in spring and produce dark red sweet fruit in summer.
  • Growing Zones. USDA Zones 5-9
  • Chill Hours. 400
  • Height. 12-18 feet (semi-dwarf)
  • Fruit Production: 1-4 years
  • When to Harvest: June-July

Very few things are more beautiful than a blooming cherry blossom tree in the spring. Those delicate pink and white petals are a sight to behold! But even better is when those blossoms transform into delectable sweet fruit.

Stella cherry trees are an excellent option to bring this beauty into your own home. This semi-dwarf tree grows to a height of 12-18 feet and produces dark red, sweet fruit that is resistant to splitting. But best of all, Stella – unlike most cherry trees – is self-pollinating.

So if you only have room for one tree, you’ll still be able to enjoy a cherry harvest. You’ll enjoy a larger yield if there is another cherry tree growing nearby, but it’s not a requirement.

Meyer Lemon Tree

Meyer Lemon tree growing in the backyard. This fruit tree is full of ripe yellow lemons on branches.
The Meyer lemon bonsai produces bright yellow, tart-sweet fruits.
  • Growing Zones. USDA zones 8-11
  • Chill Hours. None
  • Height. 4-6 feet
  • Fruit Production: 2 years
  • When to Harvest: Wintertime (don’t harvest until skins are the color of an egg yolk)

By far, the most famous dwarf lemon tree is the Meyer lemon. Meyer lemons combine the best of lemons and mandarin oranges into one hybrid tree. The fruit is known for its tart sweetness that is fantastic baked in desserts or preserved.

Meyer lemon trees grow four to six feet tall and are self-pollinating. Because of it’s petite size, you can grow Meyer lemons in containers. This will allow you to bring them indoors in the winter if you live in an area colder than USDA zone 8.

Washington Navel Orange Tree

Close-up of the bright round citrus, juicy and sweet oranges ripening on a Washington Navel Orange tree in the garden.
This dwarf orange tree will provide you with incredibly sweet and juicy seedless fruits.
  • Growing Zones. USDA zones 9 and 10
  • Chill Hours. None
  • Height. 7-15 feet (dwarf); 3 feet (petite)
  • Fruit Production: 4 years
  • When to Harvest: November – June

When it comes to oranges, most of us think of giant groves of orange trees in Florida or California. With dwarf orange trees, we can bring a little bit of that sunshine home to our backyards! Orange trees are self-pollinating, so you’ll only need to worry about finding space for one at a time.

Check out Washington Naval oranges if you’re looking for a tree that produces great fruit for eating. These oranges are seedless, easy to peel, flavorful, and sweet.

This tree is easy to grow and requires less care than other orange tree varieties. The dwarf version will need a lot of room to grow – between seven and fifteen feet – but the petite size grows only three feet tall. The petite Washington Naval makes a perfect container option and will allow you to move the tree indoors during the cold months.

Dancy Tangerine Tree

Close-up of the bright ripe mandarin fruits that grow on the Dancy Tangerine Tree in the garden.
Dancy tangerine trees produce sweet citrus fruits with a tart aftertaste.
  • Growing Zones. USDA zones 9-11
  • Chill Hours. None
  • Height. 10-15 feet
  • Fruit Production: 1 year
  • When to Harvest: November-December

You may find the most happiness from a tangerine over an orange if you love tart flavors. Tangerines are incredibly flavorful, easy to peel, and less messy to eat than their larger orange cousins.

Dancy Tangerine trees are the best-known variety for home growers. The fruit has a wonderful sweet citrus flavor followed by a tart aftertaste. And they’re the perfect snack on the go.

Mature trees will grow 10-15 feet so make sure your space can accommodate it. Luckily, tangerine trees are self-pollinating so you’ll only need room for one. Since it’s obviously too large for containers, only plant if you live in a warm climate.

Celeste Fig Tree

Close up of the Celeste Fig Tree branch with ripening and already ripened fruits.
Celeste Fig Tree gives incredibly tasty and sweet fruits of dark purple color.
  • Growing Zones. USDA zones 6-9
  • Chill Hours. None
  • Height. 7-10 feet
  • Fruit Production: 1-2 years
  • When to Harvest: July

The Celeste fig tree – also known as the Sugar fig – is well-known for producing an abundance of delicious, sweet fruit. Celeste figs are small to medium-sized and showcase skin colors ranging from vibrant rose to deep violet.

Unlike most figs, Celeste is cold-hardy and can grow in USDA zones 6-9. If you live in an area with hard freezes, you’ll still have to bring it inside during the winter. The tree is also resistant to most pests including wasps. This is a closed-eye fig, meaning the small hole that normally exists at the top of the fruit is closed. This means wasps cannot get in.

Celeste will provide a very high yield of figs, so be prepared to enjoy them fresh, in jams, on charcuterie boards, or in desserts.

Ice Cream Mango Tree

A ripe mango fruit hangs on a branch of the Ice Cream Mango Tree in the garden.
This dwarf mango tree grows up to 6 feet tall and produces delicious fruits.
  • Growing Zones. USDA zones 10 or 11
  • Chill Hours. None
  • Height. 6 feet
  • Fruit Production: 2-3 years
  • When to Harvest: Late March

Regular-sized mango trees are enormous, growing more than 100 feet tall. But thanks to grafting, you can find dwarf varieties like the Ice Cream Mango that grows beautifully in containers. Commonly known as the ‘condo mango’, this tree has a maximum height of 6 feet making it perfect for patio containers.

While you may be impressed by the tree’s small size, you’ll fall in love with its tasty fruit. Ice Cream mangos are rich and creamy and will remind you of a decadent sorbet more than fruit. These mangos are delicious to eat, add to smoothies, or bake into desserts.

Ice Cream mangos are only hardy in USDA zones 10 or 11. If you live outside of these tropical climates, be sure to bring your plant indoors for a good chunk of the year.

Kazake Pomegranate Tree

Colorful pomegranates hanging on the branches of the Kazake Pomegranate Tree in the garden
This variety of pomegranates produces sweet, juicy fruits.
  • Growing Zones. USDA zones 4-10
  • Chill Hours. None
  • Height. 6 feet
  • Fruit Production: 1-2 years
  • When to Harvest: September – October

Pomegranates are one of the most interesting fruits. They look similar to apples on the outside, but the inside is a different story! The edible parts of a pomegranate are tiny red seeds that reside within the pith. The seeds are delicious and have a distinct sweet-tart flavor and a delightful crunch. They’re great to eat as a snack, in salads, or in couscous.

If you’re looking for a pomegranate variety that can withstand some colder winter temperatures, the Russain Kazake is a great choice! Growing to a height of 6 feet, this dwarf tree can withstand freezing temperatures and be grown as far north as USDA zone 4.

In the spring and summer, you’ll delight in Kazake’s gorgeous orange blooms that mature into large fruits filled with sweet-tart seeds.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know which types of trees are well suited to grow in a smaller space, the sky is the limit! Based on the fruit you and your family enjoy most, you can select varieties of dwarf fruit trees that will give you a prolific harvest yearly. And if you live in an area not ideally suited for a specific type of tree, find the most petite version and grow them indoors. Thanks to the modern horticultural science of grafting, we can enjoy growing fruit in a way not previously possible. Happy growing!

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