There are thousands of types of fruit trees, but only a few that are the most popular, especially among home gardeners. These fruit trees are known for growing in a wide variety of conditions, but all require plenty of sunlight, regular pruning and protection against insect infestations. In return, however, they produce bountiful harvests of sweet fruit that can be eaten fresh or baked and preserved.
The apple tree is easy to grow, bears heavily and can adapt to a huge variety of conditions, making it one of the most popular fruit trees for home growers. The trees also provide shade and are perfect for climbing and attaching to tire swings for youngsters. In addition to a large choice of varieties of apples, such as Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, Rome and Fuji, home growers can also choose from different sizes of apple trees. Those sizes are dwarf, which grow 6 to 12 feet tall; semi-dwarf, which are usually 15 to 20 feet tall; and standard, which will usually top out at about 25 feet tall.
Dwarf and semi-dwarf stock are usually recommended for home growers, since they don't take up as much space, can be planted closer together, and the branches are easier to reach for harvest. Semi-dwarf and standard size trees are usually hardier than dwarf apple trees.
With its fragrant blossoms and heavy load of sweet fruit, the cherry tree is another highly prized fruit tree among home gardeners. Most cherry trees need a second tree in close proximity for pollination, requiring the planting of at least two trees, but sometimes a neighbor's tree will be close enough to get the job done. The variety of cherry tree for a home garden should be chosen carefully to make sure blossoms appear after the last frost, otherwise the blooms will freeze and no fruit will set.
One of the most popular varieties of cherry is Bing. Other sweet cherry varieties include Rainier, Sunburst, Van and Lapin. Popular sour cherries, which are usually used for baking and canning, include Montmorency, Early Richmond, North Star and English Morello. Like apple trees, cherry trees come in dwarf, semi-dwarf and standard sizes. There are also a number of cherry trees that produce inedible fruit.
The third most popular fruit tree in the U.S., according to Home Depot Garden Club, pear trees require little care compared to many other fruit trees, and can grow in as many places as apple trees. Also, like apples, pear trees come in thousands of varieties, but a few are among the most popular, such as Bartlett, Bosc, Moonglow and Clapp's.
Most varieties of pear trees are heavy bearers, but some, such as Bradford, may produce only a small amount of pears each year. Asian pears have also become more popular among home growers. They offer up a slightly different flavor and are crisp when ripe rather than soft. The most popular Asian pears are Hosui, Shinseiki and 20th Century. Pear trees are available in dwarf, semi-dwarf and standard sizes. Dwarf pear trees are usually 8 to 10 feet tall, and can be grown in containers. Semi-dwarf pear trees typically grow 12 to 15 feet tall, and standard trees grow up to 30 feet tall.