apple tree blossom on tree
Updated: August 8, 2023

About fruit tree pollination 

  • Pollination involves the transfer of pollen from the anthers to the stigmas of flowers.
  • Depending on the type of fruit trees you are growing apples, peaches, pears, cherries, or plums, pollination occurs when pollen is transferred from the anthers to the stigmas of the same flower, to stigmas of different flowers on the same plant, and to the stigmas of flowers on different plants.
  • If the flower is not satisfactorily pollinated, the fruit may drop or be malformed.
  • Some fruit crops are self-fruitful, which means that pollen from the same cultivar is effective for fertilization and fruit growth.
  • Other fruits, however, are self-unfruitful, which means the pollen from flowers of the same cultivar is not suitable for fertilization. For these latter fruits to bear well, pollen from other cultivated varieties that bloom at the same time must be available.

Self-fruitful crops 

Peach (except J.H. Hale), nectarine, apricot, grape, brambles, strawberry, sour cherry, currant, gooseberry, and jostaberry do not require cross-pollination but do require bee activity for the best fruit set. Many of the European and Japanese plum cultivars are self-fruitful. Consult catalogs and reference books for information on specific cultivars.

Self-unfruitful crops

Apples, pears (Asian and European), and most sweet cherries are generally self-unfruitful and require pollen from another variety within 100 feet to produce a good crop. Ornamental flowering fruit trees may provide needed pollen for a good fruit set if their bloom period overlaps with the fruit trees. For example, crabapple trees are excellent pollinators for fruiting apples. Blueberries will yield more fruit and larger fruit if two cultivars are planted together.

Without bees there will be no fruit, so you must protect your bees and other pollinators. Never spray insecticides on blooming fruit trees or when pollinators are present. Limit pesticide use when possible. 


Pollination requirements

Fruit Pollination   requirements*  Notes 

Mostly self-sterile; requires a

Golden Delicious is self-fertile. Mutsu, Jonagold, Winesap, and Arkansas Black produce sterile pollen. They must be grown with two additional cultivars.

Pear Mostly self-sterile; requires a
Asian and domestic cultivars are compatible. Seckel and Bartlett are incompatible. Magness produces sterile pollen and must be grown with two additional cultivars.
Peach and
Mostly self-fruitful J.H. Hale is self-sterile and requires a pollenizer.
Self-fruitful No pollenizer is required.

Mostly self-sterile; requires a pollenizer

Stella, Lapins, and Starkrimson are self-fertile.

Mostly self-sterile

Stanley, Damson, Italian, Lombard, and Reine Claude are self-fertile, European-type cultivars. Most Japanese cultivars listed as self-fertile will produce larger crops when planted with a pollinator. Plant two or more European cultivars or two or more Japanese cultivars, but not one of each type. Apricot-plum crosses (pluots, apriums, and plumcots) can be pollenized with suitable Japanese plum cultivars.


Tree blooms early and blossoms are often damaged by late spring frosts.

Seedless and

No pollenizer is required.

To ensure cross-pollination, be certain that the selected cultivars are pollen-compatible and share a similar bloom time. Crabapple trees, and ornamental plum, and cherry trees will cross-pollinize their respective fruiting “cousins” if bloom time is similar. However, do not plant Callery (Bradford) pear: it is a highly invasive tree.
## Japanese-type plums may not be hardy in Western Maryland.
@ Fruit develops without fertilization or seed.