The arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere can be a moving target. Too early and frost can be a risk factor, while a late spring can push the growing season. Whenever it arrives, fruit tree blossoms are always a welcome sight.
Most of us look at an orchard and see a blanket of beautiful flowers. To the untrained eye it can be hard to differentiate the blooms of apricots from those of an apple or peach. Lucky for you, we can help.
For those in the pacific northwest, here’s a guide to what fruit trees are blooming when.
Fruit Tree Blossom Calendar
The tree to bloom earliest is most commonly apricot. They’re relatively cold hardy and are prolific bloomers, providing early waking honeybees with much needed nourishment. These blossoms appear early to late April.
Close behind are cherries, which arrive mid-April to early May. Their clusters are hard to miss as cherries grow in groups. The earlier varieties (Vans) and later ones (Lapin, Sweetheart) can vary by days or longer. Ornamental cherry trees bloom earlier.
Peaches bloom mid-April to early May and can be identified by a tinge of pink. Like cherries, this soft flesh tree fruit is widely planted in Washington state and into British Columbia’s Okanagan valley. Peaches have fuzz, nectarines are smooth, but they’re the same species.
In late April to mid-May are also pears. From gnarly reaching trunks to close high-density, pear orchards can look markedly different from one another. If you ever smell the light scent of a pear blossom, you won’t forget it. Watch for them.
Around that same window will be plum trees (late April to mid-May). They’re often found in the backyards of post-war 1950s houses, as prune plums were commonly planted by home gardeners. Plum cordial, anyone?
Apples bloom early to late May but they can also make an appearance in late April. Like cherries, bloom time can vary by days depending on the varietal. You might see plenty of blossoms on an apple tree, but they need a little encouragement to pollenate.
As you pass by (or through) a spring orchard, take a moment to think about the work these trees do to bring us their delicious fruits. The timeline from spring to fall isn’t a long one to transform pollinated blooms into juicy apples. Let’s honor their efforts and eat more apples.