When space is an issue, dwarf-sized fruit trees allow gardeners to pack more variety into smaller spaces.

Please note that this is a list of fruits that include dwarfing types WITHIN the species, not a list of fruits that are EXCLUSIVELY dwarf. Not every apple tree is a dwarf — but you can find specific cultivars of dwarf apples, so it’s on the list.

Cold-Hardy Dwarf Fruit Trees

For most of these trees, the dwarfing type is the result of breeding or grafting (or both). Be aware that “dwarf” often means up to 10 feet tall. This may not seem like a small size… until you realize that a standard size for a tree like the sweet cherry can reach 25 feet tall. Read the nursery description to find out before you purchase just how large your tree will grow!

  • Apples: The apple is one of the most readily-available fruit trees for northern gardeners, and it comes in a huge variety of tastes, shapes and sizes. Dwarf apple trees are very easy to find, and you’ll have multiple choices in terms of cultivars.
  • Cherries: “Dwarf” for a cherry tree depends on your perspective. I’d you are looking for a sweet cherry, your best bet is probably one of the hybrids in the Romance collection (Romeo, etc.). For a pie cherry, there are several dwarfing varieties available. For a conventional sweet cherry, it’s harder to find anything smaller than a semi dwarf, but the romance collection offers a compactly sized substitute. Read more about types of cherries to grow in Northern zones.
  • Mulberry: Yes, you can get a dwarf mulberry tree! I haven’t sprung for one of these yet, but it’s on my bucket list. If you’re gardening in an urban area, however, be sure to check and make sure your locality isn’t one of those that has banned the planting of mulberry trees.
  • Nectarine: Multiple types available. I haven’t actually tested any of these, because it’s hard to find a zone-4 friendly nectarine at all… and my limited space for patio-grown potted stone fruit trees is reserved for peaches. However, if you are in the market for a dwarf nectarine tree, they are available.
  • Peach: Even a standard peach is smaller than many other fruit trees to begin with, but peach trees get REALLY small… not just to dwarf, but to super-dwarf (AKA genetic dwarf) sized that you can grow in a large pot! My potted peach is a Bonanza, but there are several varieties available. Read more about bush-sized peaches to grow in pots.
  • Pear: You can get dwarfing pears in both European and Asian types. A small tree doesn’t automatically mean small fruit, but be ready to provide support to branches if you are growing a larger-fruited type and the structure of the tree isn’t quite mature enough to support the weight (and this holds true for all fruit types!).
  • Plum: I don’t see as many dwarf plums as I do dwarf apples, but they are out there. Be sure you are purchasing a “real” plum; many of the smaller, shrubby types are actually native-type plums, which do not have the benefit of years of breeding, and produce very small fruit. Real dwarf plums are out there, so if you aren’t sure what the nursery is offering, ask an employee (or contact their help desk, if it’s an online ordering system). 

Cold-Hardy Dwarf Fruit Plants

If you’re looking for fruit in smaller sizes than even a dwarf tree, you should turn to shrubs, bramble canes, and other soft fruits. Most of these already come in small sizes… but if you are looking for something even tinier than an already-smaller-than-a-dwarf-tree size, these are the soft fruit species I’ve seen that have options for dwarfing varieties.

  • Raspberries: There’s a few options available for dwarfing raspberries. You can buy the realllly short type – often advertised as arctic raspberries, carpet raspberries, or creeping raspberries. If you opt for these spreading groundcover-type raspberries, be aware that you will almost certainly need two for pollination. Alternatively, you could go for one of the newly bred dwarfing cane-types, such as the Bushel and Berry types. For those not familiar with the type, Bushel and Berry is a registered trademark for a line of dwarfing fruit plants, including the “Raspberry Shortcake.”
  • Blackberries: I’ve only ever seen true “dwarf” blackberries as the Bushel and Berry® cultivars (which I have a couple of, but I’m still deciding how I feel about them). Alternatively, you could go with blackberry relatives such as the dewberry, which for me has not grown anywhere near as tall as my “real” blackberry canes do.
  • Blueberries: A highbush cranberry grows fairly large – 6′ and more – so I was very happy to discover dwarfing types available! I’ve seen the Top Hat advertised more commonly than any other dwarfing blueberry, but there are many types suited for potted growth.
  • Cranberries: Groundcover cranberries are a thing! These classic tart berries come in two growth habits; highbush cranberries (which you have to be careful about selection to ensure that you are actually purchasing an EDIBLE highbush cranberry, and not one of those decorative relatives) and groundcover or bog-type cranberries. I have the Pilgrim, which is pretty readily available.
  • Grapes: I don’t own any of these, but there are miniature grape vines out there. Be aware that “miniature” means that it’ll survive deep pruning… not that the vine will always stay 24 inches tall. Vines are vines, and yes, these types are more compact — but they still need care to keep them from rambling all over the place!

Tropical/Subtropical Dwarf Fruit Trees & Plants

If you’re growing tropical fruits in cold zones, a dwarf tree is usually your best option. Tropical trees can’t take northern-zone temperatures, so you have to grow them in a pot and bring them indoors or into a dormancy-friendly environment that doesn’t involve freezing temperatures. 

Not every variety in these species is going to be a dwarf, so make sure you do your research before purchasing. Buying or planting a tropical that isn’t a dwarf won’t do you any good!

  • Avocado: Choosing a dwarfing variety of avocado tree is VERY important if you want to harvest fruit. I like the Day Avocado, but the only “true” dwarf is the Wurtz (or at least so I’ve been told!). Read more about growing Avocado trees.
  • Banana: There are many options available for those who want to grow banana trees in pots. Personally, my favorite is the super-dwarf Cavendish, but there are other options out there! Read more about the different colors of bananas you can grow at home (even in northern zones!).
  • Fig: I love my dwarf fig tree. It’s dead-easy to grow, stayed content even in a very small pot, and handled a bit of neglect like a pro. There are multiple varieties available; I purchased mine from Logee’s, but there are other sources out there.
  • Lemons: I highly recommend the Meyer Dwarf lemon (and Meyer Improved Lemon, if you can get it). Read more about choosing a lemon tree for growing in containers.
  • Oranges: There are many container-friendly orange tree types available! Make sure you pick a sweet-type orange, if you are looking for fruit you can eat fresh off the tree. Read more about dwarf orange trees to grow in pots.
  • Pineapple: OK, so be careful with this one. The pineapple DOES come in miniature sizes, but the fruit from a miniature plant is inedible. You see these tiny pineapples used as decorations or in bouquets for tropical-themed weddings. Not in a fruit salad. Look for the happy medium – a plant big enough to support a medium-to-standard sized pineapple is probably going to be about two feet wide (they don’t get very tall; figure it’ll be roughly the same height as width). If it’s a tiny little plant that you can carry tucked in your elbow while you push a shopping cart through the greenhouse aisles, it’s either a wildly immature pineapple or a decorative, nonedible type.
  • Pomegranate: The Nana Dwarf Pomegranate is very popular, but be aware the fruit quality isn’t that great! This mini shrub is largely ornamental, so know what you’re getting before you buy. Read more about choosing a pomegranate tree for growing in containers.

This list is NOT exhaustive – I’m adding to it as I can! – so check in for updates over time. 

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