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Low Water Fruit and Nuts


  • Some plants below need supplemental water, improved soil and periodic fertilization for fruit production.
  • Trunks must be protected from gnawing.
  • See Selection and Cultivation Tips for information on chill hours and more.

Almond: Prunus dulcis
Almonds are drought tolerant once established. Choose a low-chill cultivar. Needs well-drained soil. USDA hardiness zones 6-10.

Citrus: Calamondin, Lime, Tangerine
Citrus trees have lower water needs than many fruit crops. Most citrus varieties are frost tender and grow in USDA hardiness zones 9b-10a. In zones 9a, slopes with proper cold air drainage will support hardy citrus varieties. Bottomland areas of zone 9a will experience frost damage.

Elderberry: Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis
Fragrant, yellow-white flowers in clusters produce blue-black berries.

Fig (Edible): Ficus carica
The green figs are the flowers, the ripe figs are the fruit.

Grape (European): Vitis vinifera
Heat tolerant European grapes can be grown in parts of the desert southwest. Plant on a slope and avoid low-lying areas where freezing air will settle. Reduced water diminishes fruit yield. USDA hardiness zones 7b-10.

Jujube / Chinese Date: Ziziphus jujuba
Tiny clustered, fragrant white flowers and abundant fruit.

Oval / Nagami Kumquat: Fortunella margarita
White fragrant flowers and small orange fruit.

Olive: Olea europaea
Grows 30' tall and wide. Small, clustered, creamy-white flowers.

Pineapple Guava / Feijoa: Acca sellowiana
Evergreen, very decorative. White flowers with red stamens, edible fruit and flowers.

Pinyon Pine: Pinus edulis
Slow grower to 20' high and 16' wide. Most drought resistant of all native pines. Cones produce edible nuts sold commercially as pine nuts. Evergreen. Full sun. USDA hardiness zones 4-8.

Pistachio: Pistacia vera
Grows 25' to 30' high and as wide. Needs 500 chill hours (50% bloom) to 1000 chill hours (100% bloom). Summer temperatures above 100°F are ideal. Often grown for flowers in spring and red leaves in fall. Requires one to four 'Kerman' plants to bear nuts and one 'Peters' (upwind) to provide pollen. Fruiting starts 4 - 5 years after transplant. When established, deep soak once every two weeks during warm weather for proper nut production. USDA hardiness zones 7-11.

Pomegranate: Punica granatum
Ornamental flowers and fruit.

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Punica granatum: Pomegranate