Ministry of Agriculture

Home Garden Factsheets

Pollination

Good crops begin at blossom time when three things are required: (1) the weather should be sunny and warm (2) there should be honey bees and wild insects to transfer the pollen and (3) you need the right varieties.

Apples

If the weather during bloom is warm, most apple varieties will set a crop with their own pollen. If the weather is cool, cross pollination with pollen from a different variety is needed. Gravenstein is pollen sterile and won't cross pollinate other varieties. Triploid varieties like Jonagold are also poor pollinizers. McIntosh, Spartan, Red Delicious, and Golden Delicious are good as cross pollinizers. Winter Banana is particularly good as a cross pollinizer because it blooms over a long period of time.

Pears

If the weather at blossom time is warm, Bartlett will set a good crop by itself. However, it is best for all pear varieties to have other varieties available for cross pollination. Most pear varieties cross pollinate each other. Bartlett and Anjou are quite satisfactory in this respect. Bees are not easily attracted to pear bloom because the sugar content of pear nectar is low. Asian pears (apple pears) may be partly self-fertile. Cross pollinate with another Asian pear or Bartlett.

Apricots

Older varieties like Tilton are self-fertile and some others are partly self-fertile. Many varieties such as Perfection need cross pollination. Apricots are the first fruit trees to bloom and are susceptible to spring frost damage.

Peaches

All types of the peaches are self-fertile except the old variety J.H. Hale. All nectarines are self-fertile.

Sweet Cherries

Stella, Lapins, and Sweetheart are self-fertile along with several new selections coming in the future. All other sweet cherries need to be cross pollinated. Originally, the three most popular cherries were Bing, Lambert, and Royal Ann. These three varieties are not only self-infertile but are also cross infertile. The Summerland Research Station developed the Van and Sam varieties in order to cross pollinate the Bing, Lambert, and Royal Ann. Self-fertile cherries will set a crop on their own and will cross pollinate other cherry varieties. Sour (tart) cherries are self-fertile and can cross pollinate sweet cherries.

Plums

Plums are divided into two groups: European plums, and Japanese plums. Examples of European plums are: Italian prune, Peach plum, Greengage, Damson and Bradshaw. The Italian prune is self-fertile, yet all European plums benefit from cross-pollination with another, different European variety. Examples of Japanese plums are: Shiro, Red heart, and Santa Rosa. Japanese plums benefit from cross pollination with another Japanese variety. European and Japanese plums are not well suited to cross pollinate each other.

Blueberries

A few of the older varieties including Northland need cross pollination. The newer varieties are considered to be self-fertile. If you only have room for one bush, plant one and you will get a crop. However, if you have room for two bushes then make them two different varieties and you will notice that the berries will be bigger and crops will be larger (more berries per bush).

Raspberries

Raspberries are self-fertile. Raspberry flowers are very attractive to bees because they like the raspberry flower nectar.

Strawberries

Strawberries, currants, gooseberries, blackberries, tayberries, etc., are all self-fertile.

Grapes

Grapes are all self-fertile. Grapes bloom late because grape flowers come on new shoots. Three different groups of grapes are: wine grapes like Chardonnay; table grapes for fresh eating like Himrod, and juice and jelly grapes like Concord.

Nuts

Walnuts and Filberts (Hazelnuts) are at least partly self-fertile but they will have bigger crops if they are cross pollinated. If possible, plant two walnut varieties or two hazelnut varieties. Chestnuts need to be cross pollinated.

NOTE: In some cases a home gardener, with room for only one tree, can plant a combination (multiple variety) tree. They can also graft other varieties into their trees.