Small Fruit Trees

There are a variety of different fruiting shrubs that grow and thrive in Calgary climate.  Here are some great fruiting shrubs that would make excellent additions to the landscape and provide tasty edible fruit for you to enjoy.

Blueberries

These low growing shrubs have many ornamental features.  Glossy dark green leaves that turn orange-red in the fall, white flowers in the spring followed by edible blueberries!  Grow these shrubs in an area that receives full sun to part shade, has organically rich, well-drained soil, and an area that has reliable snow cover.  These shrubs benefit from winter mulching and annual amending of soil with compost or manure.  Although these shrubs are self-fertile, great yields are produced when two different cultivars are planted.

Here are some Blueberry varieties to try:

  • Chippewa
  • North Country
  • North Sky
  • Northblue
  • Northland
  • Patriot
  • Polaris
  • Pink Lemonade – which produces pink blueberries!

Currants & Gooseberries

These hardy shrubs are adaptable and easy to grow.  Plants form upright shrubs with glossy dark green leaves that turn yellow or orange in the fall, produce small flowers in the spring, followed by white, red or black berries.  Currants and Gooseberries are self-fertile but will set more fruit if two cultivars are planted.  The berries from these plants are great for jams, cooking, wine, juice and eating fresh.

Here are some varieties to try:

  • Black Currant
  • Consort Currant
  • Red Lake Currant
  • White Currant
  • Pixwell Gooseberry
  • Red Hinnonmaki Gooseberry

Cherries

Although sweet cherries are not hardy in Calgary, there are other edible cherries that are.  Cherries like to grow in a sunny site with moist, well-drained soil.

 Here are some of the cherries that are hardy for Calgary and their pollination requirements:

  • Nanking Cherry – partially self-pollinating, better yields when cross-pollinated; produces 1-1.5cm red cherries that ripen in July
  • Evans Cherry – self-fertile, produces bright red semi-sweet cherries that ripen in late July.
  • Romance series – self-fertile
    • Crimson Passion – 3-4cm dark red cherries that ripen late July to early August; highest sugar content
    • Cupid – 3-4cm dark red-black cherries ripen in early September; blooms 1 week later than other cherries
    • Juliet – 2-3cm dark red cherries that ripen in mid-August
    • Romeo – 2-3cm dark red-black cherries that ripen in late August
    • Valentine – 2-3cm dark red-black cherries that ripen in early August
  • Carmine Jewel – self-fertile, produces 2-3cm dark almost black cherries that ripen in late July to early August

Goji Berry

Relatively new, this Asian fruit has amazing nutritional properties.  An upright, spreading shrub with narrow grey-green leaves along spiny stems.  Produces bell-shaped purple flowers followed by bright red berries that have a tangy sweet and sour flavor.  Self-fertile, berries ripen from summer to frost.  Plant can set fruit during their first year.

Grape Vine

A hardy vine that needs to be planted in a sheltered site away from winds and mulched for the winter.  It produces deeply lobed dark green leaves, fragrant white flowers, and medium sized blue-black berries that ripen in late summer.  New growth in the spring is covered in a whitish downy covering.  Grapes are good for fresh eating, juice, jams, and jellies.

After planting, prune back vine to 2 or 3 strong buds.  Next spring cut back last years growth to 4 or 5 strong buds.  In subsequent years prune back all of the previous year's growth, leaving no more than 30 buds on each plant.

Best variety for Calgary:

  • Valiant – blue-black berry with sweet, tangy flavor.  Extremely winter hardy, ripens in late summer

Honeyberry (Haskap)

These extremely hardy compact, rounded shrubs have dark green leaves, white flowers, and edible oblong blue berries.  The fruit is great for fresh eating, jams, jellies, juice, wine, and baking.  This is an extremely hardy shrub that is a great alternative to blueberries.  Cross-pollination is required – plant two different varieties that bloom at the same time to ensure fruit production.

Here are some great varieties for Calgary:

  • Aurora
  • Berry Blue
  • Blue Moon
  • Blue Velvet
  • Borealis
  • Honey Bee
  • Indigo Gem
  • Polar Jewel
  • Tundra

Raspberries

Raspberries are hardy, popular, easy to grow fruit bearing plants. They prefer a site that receives full sun and is protected from winds.  Raspberries like deep, fertile soil so annually amend soils with organic matter (compost or manure). Watering is important to establishing and maintaining plants.  We do not receive adequate rainfall so it is very important that raspberries receive supplemental watering. This is critical during the establishment period and important from flowering to harvest.  If plants do not receive enough water the berries and yield will be affected.

There are two different types of raspberries:

Everbearing (Primocane): These varieties fruit on first years growth in midsummer to early fall.

Pruning cut canes to the ground each year, this can be done in the fall or in the spring.  Leaving canes over the winter can help trap snow and protect the canes from winter damage.

Varieties:

  • Amity
  • Autumn Britten
  • Caroline
  • Double Delight
  • Fall Gold
  • Heritage
  • Red River

Summer Bearing (Floricane): There varieties fruit on canes that were produced the previous season.  New shoots grow up to full size in the first year, and then bear fruit in their second summer.  Fruit ripens early to midsummer.

Pruning remove canes that produced fruit; this can be done after harvest in the fall or the following spring.  Only remove the shoots that produced fruit. 

Varieties:

  • Boyne
  • Canby
  • Latham
  • Tulameen

Rhubarb

A perennial plant that is ideally suited to Calgary's growing environment.  The hardy plant forms large fleshy rhizomes and produces large coarse green leaves with long thick red stalks.  The stalks have a delicious tart flavor making them ideal for use in sauces, pies, and desserts.

Rhubarb prefers a site that receives full sun to partial shade and rich, moist, soil.  Amending soil with organic matter annually will encourage vigorous growth.  Thriving in moist soils, watering is important to keep plants healthy and productive.  Watering is especially important during the heat of the summer as plants may decline if they do not receive supplemental water.

Harvesting - no harvest should be made the first summer following planting.  During the second season one harvest should be made and each subsequent season two harvests can be made.  The number of stalks harvested should be based on the overall plant vigor.

Saskatoon

A very showy native shrub with white spring flowers, rounded green leaves that turn orange in the fall, and delicious purplish-black berries.  The berries are great for fresh eating, freezing, making pies and preserves.  These shrubs are self-fertile so no pollination is required to enjoy the berries.   Generally new planted shrubs should start to produce fruit 2-4 years after they are planted.

Here are some varieties:

  • Honeywoood
  • Northline
  • Pembina
  • Regent
  • Smoky
  • Thiessen

Seaberry

An upright shrub with narrow grey-green leaves, small yellow flowers, and bright orange berries.  The berries are juicy and have a high concentration of vitamin C.  Seaberry have separate female and male plants, in order to get berries you must plant a female and male plant.

Varieties:

  • Askola
  • Leikora
  • Russian Orange

Strawberry

One of the most popular fruiting plants for home gardens.  Strawberries prefer a sunny site that is protected from strong winds and a rich, well-drained soil.  Annual addition of organic matter is recommended to keep soils rich and loose.  Strawberries are shallow rooted so watering is very important in getting plants established and thriving.  Mulching is important as it helps to prevent berries from being splashed with soil, discourages weeds, keeps soils moist, and provides winter protection in the winter. 

There are three different types of strawberries:

June bearing flower buds are initiated under short days (fall) and fruit the following spring.  Produce a single crop each year for a 3 to 4 week period from July into August.

Everbearing – initiates fruit buds under short days and long days.  Produce two crops each year, usually late June to early July and again in late August.

Day-neutrals – do not depend on day length to produce flower buds.  Produce fruit throughout the growing season, heaviest production in August and September.