If you’re looking to start growing some of your own food, fruit trees are a great way to start off. They’re generally easy to take care of and produce a lot of food for the level of effort you put in.
The fastest growing fruit tree for time to fruit is the papaya tree. You can get fruit from a payaya within its first 6-12 months. Barbados cherries and figs will produce fruit within 1 year after planting. Loquat, peach, and tamarillo trees can produce fruit by their 2nd year.
Here are some more fast growing fruit trees that will start producing fruit within a few seasons. All of them will fruit within their first 3 years, most of them within their first one or two.
If you’re looking for the best fruit tree for fast production, papaya is definitely the way to go. These trees are easy to come by, easy to care for, and they’ll go from seed to harvest in 6-12 months.
I’ve grown these trees before, and I can say from experience that they do grow this fast, and they produce a decent amount of fruit when harvest time comes. I recommend growing a dwarf variety for easier harvesting.
If you live north of zone 8b, you may want to grow this in a container so you can bring it indoors if the temperature drops below 32F/0C.
Another tropical tree, the calamondin is my favorite citrus. This tree grows quickly, and it will often already be producing fruit when you purchase it. Although this grows best in zones 8-10, growing this farther north comes with distinct advantages.
In the following states, Citrus greening will basically kill any citrus tree you try to grow, so you may as well not bother. Most come infected right from the garden center.
- Puerto Rico
- South Carolina
- US Virgin Islands
When grown north of zone 8, put it in a pot on wheels so that you can easily bring it in during cold weather.
Calamondin are tiny orange-like fruit that are a few inches in diameter that come with a nice sour flavor. They can be eaten as they are – skin and all – and are absolutely delicious.
My grandmother would add the juice from a few to her spaghetti sauce, and it added a lot of flavor to the sauce.
Another good option is the mulberry tree. Mulberries look like long, skinny blackberries and are a healthy, delicious berry that’s easy to grow throughout most hardiness zones. When I planted mine, it went from purchase to fruiting within a single year – even though I mostly neglected it.
These trees are prodigious growers that will provide plenty of fruit for smoothies, jams, and recipes. They’re great for eating right off the bush as well.
Not a true cherry, this plant produces cherry-like fruit within its first year after planting. The fruit is pleasantly tart and has three small seeds instead of a large pit. If you live north of zone 9b, plant it in a large container and take it inside to protect it from frosts.
Another tree that can be grown throughout most of the US, fig trees are a great tree that will produce lots of figs for you quickly. Most types will give you fruit their first or second year.
If you live north of zone 7, you’ll want to plant a hardy variety, such as the “Hardy Chicago”, which will survive up to zone 5. North of that, you’ll either have to protect it in the winter or bring it inside during cold weather.
Another popular fruit tree that is also a fast grower is the peach tree. These will typically produce whithin 2-3 years, but you can buy larger ones that will fruit their first year.
Peaches are an excellent tasting fruit that go good smoothies, pies, yogurt, and a bunch more. Definitely one of my favorite fruits.
A great option for people who live far enough north to get winters worth talking about is the apple tree. A classic American fruit, the apple tree is also a fast fruiting tree that will work great for a backyard orchard.
They can fruit in as fast as 2 years, and you can put the odds in your favor by selecting the ‘Early Harvest’, ‘Golden Delicious’, or ‘Red Delicious’ varieties, which are fast growers even among other apple trees.
Another citrus for the list (with the same caveat as calamander for where you can grow them) is the grapefruit tree. A grafted tree can grow fruit in 2-3 years.
If you live in the US, you’re probably only used to seeing the pink grapefruit variety, so the white grapefruit (also known as the marsh grapefruit) is something you can grow for yourself that typically isn’t able to be purchased locally.
If you live in zone 8 or further south, you’re in luck – because you can grow the loquat tree. This tree isn’t widely thought of as a “fruit tree” even though it grows fruit. Instead, it’s grown as a landscape tree, with its fruit usually being left to rot.
This is good news for you, because fruit thieves who will pick all your other trees bare will leave your loquats alone. They have a tangy sweet/tart flavor that becomes more sour the earlier you pick them.
What’s even better is that they start producing fruit as soon as 2 years old, and once they get fully mature they can produce 100lbs of fruit at one time. If you like loquats, they can easily become the workhorse of your orchard.
The next fruit on our list, coming in at 2-3 years to fruit, is the pomegranate. This tree will grow in zones 6-11 without any extra help (depending on which variety you grow) and will produce fruit that is good for smoothies, jellies, and juices.
Miracle Berry Tree
Another fast growing tree is the miracle berry. This will fruit within 2-3 years, but you can buy larger ones that will fruit their first year. (So you don’t have to wait.)
What makes this fruit special is that it will change your taste buds (temporarily) after eating them so that sour things – like lemons – taste sweet. This interesting fruit is basically impossible to get in stores anywhere, so growing it is the only way to get it.
It will grow in zones 9b and south in the ground, but if you live up north, it does well in containers, so feel free to grow it and bring it inside for winter.
The apricot tree is another good candidate for you to grow (if you like the fruit). They typically start growing fruit within 2-5 years, with fast growing varieties like the ‘Early Golden’ producing the fastest.
If you live between zones 5-8, apricots are a good option. Further south than 8, however, and you don’t get the chill hours you need to properly fruit.
Though not actually an olive, the autumn olive is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a healthy, delicious fruit. Packing 17x more lycopene than a tomato, these olive trees will quickly earn their place in your orchard if you let them.
Depending on the variety you get, they’ll produce as soon as 3 years, and they’ll grow anywhere between zones 3-9.
Another lesser known fruit, Custard Apple (aka Cherimoya) can go from seed to fruit in as little as 2 years. They’re said to taste like custard – hence the name, and with as fast as they grow, it is worth a shot to see if you like them.
They don’t like cold, though, so if you live north of zone 10, you’ll probably want to grow them in a container and move them indoors when it gets too cold.
Tamarillo, also known as the tree tomato, is a fast growing plant that will typically produce fruit within its first 2 years. The tradeoff for this is that it is only hardy to zone 9b (and further south), so if you live north of this, you’ll probably want to get the dwarf variety and grow it in a container.
Bring it outside May-November (or as long as weather allows), and keep it inside under a grow light during the winter.