21 Fruits to Grow in the Winter—No Matter the Climate

Kolby Milton via Unsplash

Kolby Milton / Unsplash

When some parts of the country are blanketed by thick layers of snow, it’s hard to think about growing a garden. Other states experience warm, tropical climates year-round; but whether you're stuck in the cold or basking in the sun, your home-grown fruits don't have to hibernate until spring. Contrary to popular belief, there are quite a few species that actually thrive in cold weather.

If you’re looking for delicious ideas for fruits that grow in winter, your options will depend on your location's USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. Different fruits thrive in different climates, and the United States Department of Agriculture has divided the U.S. into 13 unique zones to give gardeners a better understanding of what they can successfully grow.

Read on to learn 21 of the best winter fruits to grow in your area, and enjoy the sweeter side of your green thumb no matter the weather.

01 of 21

Honeycrisp Apples

Harnesh KP via Getty Images

Harnesh KP / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Malus domestica 'Honeycrisp'
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.0
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-6

If you live in zone three (parts of North Dakota) or zone four (parts of Nebraska), your growth options are somewhat limited. After all, these climates can reach minimum temperatures of -30 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Zones five through seven can also get cold, but they're often still warm enough to grow fruits. For instance, the latter zones can get as chilly as 10–20 degrees Fahrenheit, and include such areas as parts of Iowa (zone five), Ohio (zone six), and Virginia (zone seven).

Honeycrisp apples are a great choice for growing fruits in colder climates, as this species thrives in zones three and four. They'll still require direct sunlight, so plant your Honeycrisp apple tree in a bright area outside (like the south-facing side of your home). These trees bear fruit with red, pink, and faded white colors, and can be fertilized in the spring with a nitrogen-based fertilizer to promote healthy growth.

02 of 21

Apricots

Aleksandr Kuzmin via Getty Images

Aleksandr Kuzmin / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Prunus armeniaca
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy soil
  • Soil pH: 6.7 to 7.5
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-8

Apricots have been known to grow in zone four, but you'll have better success with this fruit if you live in zones five through eight. Like Honeycrisp apples, your apricot tree will grow best on the south-facing side of your home with direct sunlight. For best results, plant the tree during the late spring to allow it to establish a root system before the ground freezes during the winter. Some variants (like the Wescot apricot tree) are more likely to thrive and bear fruit after particularly cold winters.

03 of 21

Cherries

Kolby Milton via Unsplash

Kolby Milton / Unsplash

  • Botanical Name: Prunus avium (Sweet Cherries), Prunus cerasus (Sour Cherries)
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy soil
  • Soil pH: 5.0 to 7.0
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-7

Much of your winter fruit's success is related to the time of year it blooms: If your plant flowers in early spring, it will need warmer temperatures to thrive compared to later-blooming plants. Depending on the type of cherries they like, even people living in zone three can grow these trees in the winter. Sour cherry trees are the best candidate for colder zones, while sweet cherries require warmer climates like zones five through seven. Some varieties (like sweet cherries) are self-sterile, meaning you'll need to plant a second tree nearby to ensure your plant is pollinated well during the growing season.

04 of 21

Pears

Westend 61 via Getty Images

Westend 61 / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Pyrus communis
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-8

This sweet, citrusy fruit grows on trees often found in zones four through eight, but specific variants (like Summercrisp pears) are suited for zone three. Since pear trees require plenty of cold weather before flowering in the spring, they're a great choice for people living in northern climates that experience plenty of freezing during the winter. If you're planting your first pear tree, try to choose a plot with access to direct sunlight and well-draining soil. Like cherry trees, this species often requires at least two trees planted nearby to help pollinate each other before bearing fruit.

05 of 21

Winter Squash

Harrison Eastwood via Getty Images

Harrison Eastwood / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Cucurbita maxima
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 6.8
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9

Winter squash can be planted shortly after the winter's last freeze to produce fruit by fall. Since these plants require a longer growing season than many others (sometimes more than 100 days from planting before they're ready to harvest), it's important to get familiar with your area's common freeze dates and plant your winter squash as early as possible. With plenty of sunlight and well-draining soil, your plant's fruit can ripen late in the fall and even into early winter.

06 of 21

Plums

Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

Monika Grabkowska / Unsplash

  • Botanical Name: Prunus domestica
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy or sandy soil
  • Soil pH: 6.5
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9

Most types of plum trees are typically ready to harvest between late spring and fall, but the European variant can bear fruit into the early winter. This hearty stone fruit is suitable to eat fresh, but is also commonly used in recipes like jams, jellies, and other spreads. Since they're able to survive in colder temperatures, your plum tree can thrive if you live anywhere between zones four through nine. Be sure to plant it in an area with full sun—especially if your area experiences cold winters—with well-draining soil to prevent excess moisture.

07 of 21

Grapes

Alexandra Grablewski via Getty Images

Alexandra Grablewski / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Vitis
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, sandy soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 6.5
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-11

Grapes are one of the more versatile winter fruits, as they can survive anywhere from zones four through eleven depending on the species. American grapes thrive in zones four through eight, while other variants like European and Muscadine grapes prefer warmer weather. If you live in a moderate climate zone, you'll be glad to learn that the American species are great for use as table grapes (as opposed to wine grapes). Plant your grapes in the early spring in an area with full sun or partial shade. Harvest the fruit in the late fall in northern areas, or throughout the winter if you live in a hotter climate.

08 of 21

Mandarin Oranges

Verdina Anna via Getty Images

Verdina Anna / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Citrus reticulata
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, sandy soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8b-11

Not all of the U.S. faces blizzards in the wintertime. If you live in a warmer climate, such as zone eight (including parts of Arizona) or zone nine (including parts of Nevada), you have more growth options at your disposal than other areas. Temperatures in these climates seldom dip below freezing, and they present the ideal year-round growing conditions—particularly for citrus fruits.

Mandarin oranges, in the same family as tangerines and clementines, present a sweet, citrusy taste associated with many tropical fruits. Rather than bearing fruit in the spring or summer, your plant will produce its oranges in the late fall or early winter. If you live in colder areas of the country, you can also plant your mandarin orange tree in a large pot to bring it indoors during freezing temperatures. Choose a south-facing area of your home to plant these trees outdoors, and fertilize them with citrus fertilizer between early spring and summer.

09 of 21

Lemons

Gemma Evans via Unsplash

Gemma Evans / Unsplash

  • Botanical Name: Citrus limon
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy or sandy soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 6.5
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9-11

Although lemon trees can be grown in colder areas like zone eight, you'll have better success growing this species if you live in zones nine through 11. Your plant will produce the most fruit when it's placed in an area with full sun, so choose a location on the south- or southeast-facing side of your home. Additional moisture helps protect these trees from frost, meaning regular waterings through the winter can make the difference between a successful or subpar harvest in the summer. Your tree will start producing fruit when it's between three and five years old (so if it's not ready quite yet, it might still need more time to reach maturity).

Because lemon trees are more finicky and sensitive to frost than other citrus trees, you'll want to plant yours in a large pot to bring indoors during colder temperatures if you live in an area susceptible to freezes.

10 of 21

Kiwis

Ansonmiao via Getty Images

Ansonmiao / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Actinidia deliciosa
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 7.0
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 7-9

If you live in a warmer climate, kiwis can make a great option for easy growing. These plants grow on vines, and because they ripen in both winter and spring, they're an excellent choice to enjoy during the colder months. Your kiwi plant may take several years to reach maturity—so opt for an adult plant from a local nursery if you're ready to start harvesting its fruit early. Plant your kiwi vines in an area with full sun or partial shade, and choose sunnier areas for greater fruit production.

11 of 21

Kumquats

Limpido via Getty Images

Limpido / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Citrus japonica
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.0
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8-11

Zone 11 makes up the warmest and most tropical-friendly climate in the United States. It’s also the smallest zone, limited primarily to Florida's southern tip and a small section of coastal Los Angeles. If you live in one of these areas, you have access to growth opportunities not available in other parts of the nation.

Kumquat trees are ideal for warmer climates, as they thrive in zones nine through 11 (and can even be successful in zone eight under the right conditions). In any of these zones, you'll want to plant your kumquat tree in a south-facing area outdoors that receives plenty of direct sunlight. Water is key to keep these trees growing healthy: To prevent the soil from becoming too dry, be sure to water your tree regularly and mist it several times per week during the hotter months of the year. Plant your tree in the early spring to let it establish strong roots before winter, and prepare to harvest its fruit between late fall and early spring.

12 of 21

Pomelos

Thai Thu via Getty Images

Thai Thu / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Citrus maxima
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy, clay, or sandy soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 7
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9-11

Pomelo trees are known for their large green citrus fruit, which can reach anywhere from four to 12 inches in length at maturity. Since this species isn't too finicky about its soil, it's a great option for those who live in areas with clay soil that other citrus trees can't thrive in (although it will grow best in loamy or sandy mixtures). Your pomelo tree will require plenty of sun, so be sure to plant it in an area that receives direct light like the south- or southeast-facing side of your home. These citrusy fruits taste similar to grapefruit, and can be harvested between late fall and early spring.

13 of 21

Avocados

Lacaosa via Getty Images

Lacaosa / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Persea americana
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy or cactus soil
  • Soil pH: 5.0 to 7.0
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9-11

Avocado trees are best known for their growth in tropical areas, so you'll need to live in zones nine through 11 in order for yours to thrive outdoors year-round (although Mexican avocado trees can survive in zone eight). Plant your tree during spring to allow it to mature before the heat of the summer sets in, and water it regularly—a few times per week—to ensure its roots don't become dry. Harvest fruit from your avocado tree as individual bunches become ripe between late winter and early fall each year.

14 of 21

Passion Fruits

Antoniu Rosu / 500px via Getty Images

Antoniu Rosu / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Passiflora edulis
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy or sandy soil
  • Soil pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10-12

Unlike many other winter-thriving fruits that grow on trees, passion fruit grows on a vine. The most common variant bears fruit of pink and purple colors with a sweet, slightly tart flavor. This species requires several hours of full sun per day, so plant it in an area with bright, direct light and minimal wind. You'll want to water your passion fruit plant two to three times per week to keep its roots moist, and ensure the entirety of the soil is wet to prevent it from drying out. These plants can flower year-round in tropical climates, so check individual batches for ripeness before harvesting during the winter.

15 of 21

Figs

Winslow Productions via Getty Images

Winslow Productions / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Ficus carica
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 6.5
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8-10

If you live in a more tropical climate, your fig tree can produce fruit in late summer and through the early winter. Variants like the Brown Turkey fig are ideal for warmer areas, and like many types of fig trees, they don't prefer much water. Allow your fig tree to dry out between waterings. When it's ready to produce, you'll find sweet, brown to purple-colored fruits that can be eaten fresh or prepared in a variety of recipes.

16 of 21

Pomegranates

Fabian Krause/EyeEm via Getty Images

Fabian Krause / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Punica granatum
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy or sandy soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 7.0
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8-11

Pomegranate trees grow best in warmer climates, but unlike many tropical species, they tend to prefer a hot, dry climate without excess water. This sweet, slightly tart fruit is excellent to eat fresh or prepared in smoothies and other recipes. The height of the harvest season begins in late summer to early fall, and in hotter zones, you'll be able to harvest into the winter months as long as your tree keeps bearing new fruit. Plant your tree in an area with plenty of full sun, and opt for spots with either loamy or sandy soil that doesn't retain extra moisture.

17 of 21

Guavas

Murilo Gualda via Getty Images

Murilo Gualda / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Psidium guajava
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 4.5 to 7.0
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9-12

This tropical fruit is a special treat for those who live in tropical climates. Commonly found in Florida, Hawaii, and parts of Texas and California, guava trees prefer humid weather. For the most successful fruit production, plant your tree in an area with well-draining soil and full sun. Sandy, acidic soil is ideal for this species to grow to maturity, and you'll also want to prune your tree as necessary to keep its height manageable and ensure easy harvests.

18 of 21

Grapefruits

Brett Stevens via Getty Images

Brett Stevens / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Citrus × paradisi
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9-12

Grapefruit comes into season in January, so it’s an excellent fruit to enjoy during those chilly winter months on the West Coast, in Florida, and in parts of Texas and Arizona. Planting grapefruits is relatively easy: Remove the seeds from a fresh grapefruit, then plant them in a pot filled almost to the top with soil. Leave the pot in a well-lit window, then keep the soil moist (but not soggy). When your plant has established a strong root system, transfer it outdoors to a place with full sun and well-draining soil.

19 of 21

Jackfruits

Norhidayah Zaaffar/EyeEm via Getty Images

Norhidayah Zaaffar / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Artocarpus heterophyllus
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy or sandy soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.5
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10-12

Puerto Rico makes up zones 12 and 13, which can get mighty hot. In fact, the average temperature year-round is 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Not many fruits and veggies can stand such heat, but there are a select few: And jackfruit trees are a great option. This extra-large fruit weighs in at an average of 35 pounds, and its trees have been known to reach 80 feet in height. Plant your jackfruit tree in an area with plenty of direct sunlight and well-draining soil, ensuring it receives the right balance of nutrients to produce a large harvest of fruit.

20 of 21

Starfruits

Narintorn Pornsuknimitkul/EyeEm via Getty Images

Narintorn Pornsuknimitkul / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Averrhoa carambola
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 6.5
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9-11

Starfruit trees thrive outdoors in zones nine through 11, but can also be grown in a pot and moved indoors for the winter in zones as low as four. This species is characterized by its fruit, which grows in bright yellow rounded shapes that resemble a star when sliced. Since it's native to tropical climates, your starfruit tree will continue to produce fruit from late summer through early spring—making it an ideal winter fruit to enjoy. Like other hot weather species, these trees require plenty of direct sunlight with well-draining, loamy soil.

21 of 21

Pineapples

Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

Pineapple Supply Co. / Unsplash

  • Botanical Name: Ananas comosus
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy or sandy soil
  • Soil pH: 4.5 to 6.5
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 11-12

This sweet, juicy fruit might just be the best-known staple of tropical harvests. While pineapples are certainly delicious, they are also very slow to mature: In fact, some plants can take up to two years. Cut the crown off a ripe pineapple, remove the lower leaves, and plant the exposed stalk in a planter. Water it lightly and leave the planter in the sunlight, then plant it in the ground once it has an established root system.

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