Best Fruit Tree and Berry Varieties for the Portland Area
Here are my recommended varieties for this area.
Generally speaking most fruits and all nuts do better with a partner. Always plant two of everything if you have the space. Otherwise, you can plant combo trees, or rely on a neighbor’s tree to pollinate yours if you know it’s a suitable fit. Quince, persimmon, peaches, nectarines, sour cherries, and apricots tend to self-pollinate just fine, and can be planted solo.
The best trees for disease resistance are:
All the columnar types are generally scab resistant, though they tend to be susceptible to anthracnose.
For flavor plus disease resistance, these are my recommended apples:
In terms of pure flavor and relative resistance I recommend russet varieties:
Ashmeads Kernel (my personal favorite)
Hudson’s Golden Gem
Graventeins do fine at resisting scab, but are prone to water core and bitter pit in our area. They tend to get huge, even on dwarfing rootstocks. Still, I like to recommend Gravensteins to folks who want a processing apple.
I recommend the following rootstocks:
Considered a dwarf rootstock, M-26 trees typically grow to 8 to 12 feet high and are usually spaced 8 to 12 feet apart. M-26 induces early bearing, usually 2 to 3 years after planting, and grows well in most soils, except very wet and poorly drained ones. On windy sites, trees grafted on M-26 may need staking.
Most trees with this semi-dwarf rootstock will grow to 12 to 16 feet high. Crabapples, columnar, espaliers, and combination apple trees will be smaller. M-7 is very hardy and adapted to most soils.
This stock is very dwarf - trees may only grow to about 8 feet high. It needs staking, and is prone to suckering and root rot. It is very cold tolerant and produces red leaves.
Aromatnaya or Pineapple quince both do well here and are easier to keep small than other varieties.
I recommend all Asian varieties, though their flavor really varies between the yellow and the brown/russet types, so be sure you know which you like. All Asian pears are resistant to scab.
Nijiseiki is a nice yellow crisp juicy type of pear.
Chojuro has a nice butterscotch flavor in my opinion, though the trees get quite large.
When recommending European varieties I for disease resistance, I say they are less-susceptible to disease, rather than resistant:
Rescue is my personal favorite
Flemish Beauty. I choose this for superior flavor, because it tastes like roses, and I’m happy to peel a pear.
These trees can become thirty to forty feet tall, so be careful what you plant.
Early Fuyu is more compact in size
Saijo is good for an astringent type, due to its more compact size
These trees, which grow to fifteen to twenty feet tall, are the workhorses of the fig family in Portland:
Latarulla (or honey fig) produces two crops most years in Portland. Not otherwise exceptional in flavor, but very sweet
Desert King produces one reliable crop. Figs have much prettier pink flesh and green skin. Trees can be kept smaller with early pruning.
Brown turkey figs have brown skin and yellow flesh, are very sweet and prolific. Not a small tree!
There may be others out there that will ripen in our climate, but it’s worse to have a late-ripening variety that never matures, than a large tree that needs summer pruning.
Stone fruits are only for the brave growers, as they are very susceptible to bacterial canker, brown rot, blossom blast, and coryneum blight
Plums do fine here. They tend to get coryneum blight, but otherwise, they fare pretty well. Plum varieties I recommend:
Hollywood is an Asian plum with nice purple leaves and yummy fruit.
Shiro is another Asian plum a very productive yellow plum that produces in 2 years.
Brooks, a European plum
Howard’s Miracle has the best plum flavor in my opinion. It is a cross between Asian and European (hence the miracle). It is a pollinator for both European and Asian plums, and the flavor has hints of coconut and banana!
Plant with caution!
Compact Stella, supposedly a dwarf cherry
Schneider’s Heirloom is a promising variety from Germany. I haven’t seen it produce yet, as it is new to the market.
Lapin is another promising, disease resistant variety
Always go with Colt rootstock for cherries, as it is canker resistant.
Again, plant with caution. The ONLY peaches that stand a chance here are:
Oregon Curl Free
Again, plant with caution:
Puget Gold, a seedling from Puget Sound, is the only apricot I’d recommend planting here.
You could also try Harcot or Harglow, as they show some resistance to brown rot and bacterial canker, but they are more of a risk than Puget Gold.
Plant apricots in a place where they will be somewhat hidden from view, as they can get quite scraggly and ugly with disease. Controlling disease organically is quite difficult, as sulfur spray can kill apricots.
You want at least two or three types of blueberries. I prefer the evergreen for the landscape, and they produce well:
Sunshine Blue, tolerates a more neutral soil than other types
Misty Evergreen, also tolerates a more neutral soil
Duke is BEST for production and flavor in my opinion. Pair it with Blueray.
Blueray is a good companion to Duke
Bluecrop is another I recommend, but it needs regular pruning, as it will make so many berry clusters they will break branches.
All golden raspberries are susceptible to verticillium. In well-drained areas, I typically plant:
Red raspberries tend to get RBDV unless otherwise noted for resistance. Good choices for red raspberries that are more resistant to verticillium wilt:
Go for the thornless varieties, unless someone you are really set on marionberries, You will thank me later. I typically recommend triple crown thornless, but they do get huge, with stocks up to 3-inches in diameter! So, plant them about 3 feet apart. There are other thornless types that make nice fruit.
Most do great here, but avoid late-season ripening types:
Himrod: These green grapes are less susceptible to birds, who prefer the colors red and purple in the fall. Go figure!
Canadice: A Red grape with nice flavor that ripens well.
What’s true of nuts is that they get huge, they make a mess, and the urban squirrels eat them all. That being said, if you’re really set on it, go with fire-blight resistant hazelnuts, and prune them so that they branch super low down, to keep them more like a bush that you can net. You must plant two for pollination.