Stone Fruit Hand Pollination – Hand Pollinating Stone Fruit Trees

By: Teo Spengler

Like anything else, stone fruit trees won’t produce fruitunless their flowers are pollinated. Usually, gardeners rely on insects, but ifbees are hard to find in your neighborhood, you can take the matter into yourown hands and pollinate stone fruits by hand.

Hand pollinating stone fruit trees is not as unusual as youmight think. Some gardeners self-pollinate trees that can pollinate themselvesjust to be sure of getting a good crop. Read on for information about how tohand pollinate stone fruit.

Understanding Stone Fruit Hand Pollination

Gardeners rely heavily on honeybees,bumblebeesand mason bees to pollinate their fruit trees. But, in a pinch, it’s entirelypossible to fertilize the blossoms of some types of fruit trees yourself. Thisincludes stone fruits.

It is easier if your trees can be pollinated with their ownpollen. This type of tree is called self-fruitfuland most apricots,peachesand tart cherries fall into this category. For stone fruit hand pollination oftrees that are not self-fruitful, like sweet cherry trees, you’ll need to takepollen from another cultivar.

In order to start hand pollinating stone fruit trees, it’sessential to know a stamen from a stigma. Take a careful look at the fruitblossoms before you begin. The stamens are the male parts. You can identifythem by the sacs filled with pollen (called anthers) at their tips.

The stigmas are the female parts. They rise from a flower’scenter column and have a sticky material on them for holding pollen. Topollinate stone fruits by hand, you need to make like a bee, transferringpollen from the tip of a stamen to the sticky crown of the stigma.

How to Hand Pollinate Stone Fruit

The time to begin stone fruit hand pollination is in spring,once the blossoms are open. The best tools to use are cotton puffs, q-tips orsmall artist brushes.

Collect pollen from the anthers on the stamen tips byblotting them gently with your cotton puff or brush, then deposit that pollenon a stigma’s crown. If your tree requires another cultivar for pollination,transfer pollen from the flowers of the second tree to the stigmas of the firsttree.

If the flowers are too high to easily reach from the ground,use a ladder. Alternatively, attach the cotton puff or paint brush to a longpole.

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Read more about General Fruit Care

Can Plum and Peach Trees Be Planted Together?

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Peaches and plums are both stone fruits, or drupes, from the genus Prunus. They have some very similar characteristics, which makes them a good choice to partner in a home garden. Finding self-pollinating cultivars of both the peach and plum leads to success and harmony in your garden.


Self-pollinating fruit that grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 to 10 include figs, sour cherries, pomegranates, persimmons, quince, apricots, blueberries, gooseberries, currants, apriums and most types of citrus, nectarines and peaches. Some varieties of almonds, commonly referred to as nuts, are self-pollinating stone fruit. They belong to the same family of plants as peaches, nectarines, apricots and cherries. Numerous species of apples, pears and plums are also self-pollinating. Varieties of self-pollinating apples include “Golden Delicious,” “Braeburn,” “Granny Smith” and “Scrumptious.”

Buy fruit trees

Welcome to our online shop. Our trees are supplied as bare-root one and two-year olds between December and late March, but you can order at any time of year. Orders can be delivered or collected (by appointment) from our west Norfolk headquarters.

We sell the local varieties of apples, pears, plums and cherries from the east of England counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

With more than 250 different varieties to choose from, we offer the largest and most diverse range of ready-to-plant local varieties in the region – and they are all field-grown in Norfolk to the highest Defra standards of plant health. They are ideal for gardens, community projects, allotments and schools.

The fruit trees are listed by their county of origin, or you can search by the variety name.

All our trees are £15.50p each and are VAT exempt.

Fruit tree gift vouchers are available, please contact us for more information.

You can download a pdf version of our current tree catalogue HERE. If you wish to pay by cheque, please use the catalogue order form and post it to us.

Looking for something?

Search here a variety name or keyword

Select a county to choose your trees:

Below you can find more information about buying fruit trees.


We use half-standard rootstocks, creating trees with an eventual height of 2.7m - 4.6m (9ft - 15ft) and a spread of about 3m (10ft), if grown as free-standing trees. We recommend allowing around 4.5m-5m (15ft - 16ft) between trees. These rootstocks are also ideal for restricted, formally trained trees worked as espaliers, fans or cordons. Any variety can be ordered on larger or smaller rootstocks. CONTACT US for details.


The flowering period of each variety is given so that you can select trees that will pollinate each other. A few varieties will produce fruits without help from another tree, being self-fertile, or partially self-fertile. This feature is mentioned where it applies.

For successful pollination you need two different varieties of the same species (e.g. 2 apples, etc) with the same, or adjacent flowering periods. So, if one tree is flowering period C, the other tree should also be flowering period C, or it can be a flowering period B or D.

Some apple and pears are triploid varieties, so ideally need the help of two different varieties to set fruit, with the same or adjacent flowering periods. This feature is also mentioned where it applies.

Some gages are incompatible with each other, meaning they will not cross-pollinate each other although they have the same flowering period. For example, the Suffolk Green Gage is incompatible with Cambridge Gage and Willingham Gage, but it is compatible with the other plums and gages in our catalogue. This feature is mentioned where it applies.

Our old varieties of cherry are all self-sterile, so will not cross-pollinate each other. So, to get good crops newer varieties such as Summer Sun (in our Norfolk listings), Stella or Sunburst, as well as wild cherry, will be needed to help pollinate them.

Tree care

  • Trees should be staked for their first five years, and longer on exposed sites
  • They should be protected against rabbits and deer using open-mesh guards (solid walled plastic guards can cause pest and disease problems for fruit trees)
  • For the first 5 years after planting keep a 1m circle of clear ground around the base of the tree to allow it to establish properly. Rather than use chemicals, add a layer of organic mulch to smother any grass and weed out re-growth. Using mulch mats may encourage voles, which can damage trees. An organic mulch will also feed the tree

We also sell tree planting packs (stake, guard and ties) here

Download our guides on the planting and aftercare of young fruit trees here

More on rootstocks

Rootstocks govern the final size of a tree and offer some disease and pest resistance. Our trees are grown on half-standard (semi-vigorous) rootstocks as follows:

RootstockEventual tree heightSpread
Apple MM1063.0-3.7m (10-12ft)3m (10ft)
Pear Quince ‘A’3.0-3.7m (10-12ft)3m (10ft)
Plum/Gage St Julien ‘A’3.0-3.7m (10-12ft)3m (10ft)
Cherry Colt3.6-4.6m (12-15ft)3m (10ft)

Tree spacing

Allow 4.5m - 5m spacing (15ft - 16ft) within rows, for free-standing trees, and more between rows, to allow for the management of the trees and the sward.


Different varieties grow at different rates, but in normal conditions half standard trees should start to fruit within three years of planting.

More on formal training

Half-standard rootstocks are ideal for formally trained tree forms:

Apples & Pears - ‘pip fruits’ – do best grown as cordons or espaliers. Note: triploid varieties, marked with a ‘T’, are too vigorous for formal training.

Plums & Cherries - ‘stone fruits’ – do best when grown as fans.

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