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Apple and pear tree pollination

Welsh fruit tree in flowerApple and pear trees need to be pollinated to bear fruit. For cross pollination to occur, two trees of different varieties need to be in flower at the same time so that insects can transport pollen from one tree to the other.

You will see in our tree descriptions that we include pollination groups in the information provided. These represent flowering periods and trees will cross pollinate with other trees in their own group and adjacent groups, so for example a tree in pollination group 1 will cross pollinate with trees in groups 2, 3, and 4. You will sometimes find the letters replaced with numbers in certain sources, in which case Group 3 would correspond to Group C etc.

Even varieties listed as self-fertile will set fruit better if they are pollinated by another variety.

Apple tree pollination for Triploids

If that isn’t complicated enough, some trees are Triploid, which means that they have three sets of chromosomes instead of the usual two. Triploids cannot pollinate other apple trees and can’t self-pollinate either. There is a common misconception that two further varieties are required to pollinate a triploid. This isn’t the case – you only need one, but you may need another to pollinate the first (and vice versa). On the plus side Triploids are known for being vigorous and bountiful croppers.

It is worth bearing in mind that the subject of pollination is often over-complicated. Apple and crab apple trees are very common all over the UK, even in the city, so there is a high chance that you have a suitable pollination partner in your area already. In fact, crab apple trees are some of the best pollinators. They have long flowering periods, therefore covering most pollination groups, and make loads of pollen.

The importance of bees for pollination

Pollination with beeAnother important consideration is the thousands of insects that are involved in pollination. Our friends the bees (including wild solitary bees and bumblebees) do more than 90% of the work and no bees means poor pollination. For this reason, everything that attracts and supports your local bees is good news for your apple and pear trees. Avoid chemical pesticides and fertilisers and provide habitats for solitary and bumblebees. Even better, why not become a beekeeper? You can find more information at the British Beekeepers Association. Your trees (and the wider environment) will thank you for it!

Sometimes we don’t have the pollination group for a particular variety, especially if they are rare and not much information is available for them.

If you require further help with these trees, or help choosing, you can contact us here.