Fruit trees add shade to your yard and have the bonus of fruit. Fruit trees grow in nearly every climate from the arid dessert--think dates--to the tropics--think mangos and everything in between. While fruit trees are found on every continent (with the exception of Antarctica), the trees grow best when planted in conditions as close to those of their native habitat.
All fruit trees need water or they'll die, but not all fruit trees need the same amount of water to thrive. Tropical fruit trees require more because it rains more where they originated.
Hardiness zones were developed as a way to know whether certain plants and fruit trees could survive based on the average low temperatures of the region. The coldest is zone 1 (Alaska), where there are no native fruit trees. However, some varieties of apple trees are grown. Some fruit trees like citrus won't tolerate cold temperatures and will die when planted outside in zones below 9.
Deciduous fruit trees like apples, pears, cherries and stone fruits like plums, nectarines and peaches require a chilling period to produce fruit. The chilling period is measured in the number of hours when the temperature is above freezing but below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The tree will grow if it doesn't receive the required chilling, but won't produce fruit.
Fruit trees naturally grow from 15 feet for citrus trees to over 120 feet for mangos. Leaf size ranges from 1 inch to 20 feet long (palm trees). Dwarf trees have been bred to grow no more than 3 or 5 feet tall.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Deciduous plants and fruit trees shed all their leaves and are bare branched usually during the colder winter months and then produced leaves again in spring. Apple, pear, and peach trees are examples of deciduous fruit trees. Evergreen trees drop their leaves and replace them, but the trees are never dormant or the branches bare. Citrus and avocado trees are examples of evergreen fruit trees.