17 Hardy Fruits That You Can Grow On The Prairies

When I was a kid growing up in central Alberta, I was pretty sure that all good fruit came out of B.C. True, I we had raspberries and strawberries on the farm, but apples, plums, cherries, grapes and the like where all “exotic” fruit that simply didn’t grow in Alberta. How mistaken I was! Or at least, how things have changed! I never would have thought that I could be growing plums, grapes and kiwis just outside of Red Deer, Alberta. But it’s true. There is a whole world of hardy fruit plants that can survive and even thrive on the northern prairies.

Grape Vines

So if you’re looking to grow some “exotic” fruit of your own, here’s my list of 17 hardy fruits that you can grow on the prairies.

1. Cherries

The University of Saskatchewan has really done great work in making cherries a viable prairie fruit. I now know of at least 10 varieties that are available. (I personally have 7 varieties.)

2. Haskap/Honeyberries

This fantastic fruit is amazing! Consider this… Can withstand -47 degree weather, ready for picking by the end of June, can produce 7 kgs of fruit per bush, and tastes great! Take a look at this article I wrote about haskap earlier.

3. Grapes

Yup, that’s right. Grapes in Alberta. Valient is the most common variety, but there are others as well. I’ve had mine for two years now, so I’ll be looking forward to my first harvest soon.

4. Plums

Pembina is the most common, but I’ve found about ten other varieties around.

5. Kiwis

This one blew me away when I heard about it. Kiwis in Canada. Go figure.

6. Blueberries

Perhaps the world’s favorite berry. You too can grow them.

7. Strawberries

Mmmmmm. Strawberries… Perhaps another one of the world’s favorite berries.

8. Raspberries

Despite all the “exotic” fruit I’ve mentioned, I’m afraid the plain ol’ raspberry is my favorite. Red, yellow, or black – wild or tame… They are delicious!

9. Hazelnuts

Nor really sure it’s a fruit, but close enough.

10. Apricots

I haven’t yet planted any yet, but the nursery just north of me is growing them.

11. Chums

Cherry plum, that is.

12. Pears

There are a few good varieties out there with more being developed!

13. Saskatoons

One of the few fruits native to Alberta. Also called service berries.

14. Gooseberry

Much better than the wild kind you ate green as a kid.

15. Cranberries

Why not my your own cranberry sauce this year?

16. Currants

Great for jams and jellies.

17. Apples

Not just crab, but there are all kinds of apples that are hardy enough for the prairies.

So there you have it. Proof that you don’t have to live in California to grow your own fruit. Did I miss some? Let me know!

You can find all of these fruits at either DNA Gardens or T & T Seeds.

133 Responses to 17 Hardy Fruits That You Can Grow On The Prairies

  1. Ed Beveridge says:

    Hi!

    Been fortunate enough to grow 16 of the 17 fruits listed (no chums) as well as several Saskatoon, 3-4 dwarf sour cherry and 3 grape cultivars. Ate my first apricot this summer – awesome taste and texture. Growing everything in our yard here in Regina. Good luck to everyone!

    Ed

  2. Doug says:

    You should be able to grow Quince, and pomegranite too.

    • Anne Thompson says:

      Hi, I’m in Alberta (Calgary) and would dearly love to grow a quince tree, or at least a house plant. Any idea where to start looking?

      • Dave says:

        Anne – I’ve looked around for a quince tree, and I haven’t found any local suppliers. Maybe in Ontario?

      • jc says:

        i grow them. they make awesome jam. I started mine from seeds. totally hardy.

        • jc says:

          just forgot to tell you I’m just on the east side limits of Calgary. If you want seeds let me know. they produce within a few years from seeds.

          • Katrin says:

            Hi JC,
            I am highly interested in how you were able to start a quince tree here in Alberta. I love the jam too. We do live in the south of Calgary, so not very far from you.

          • Aj says:

            Jc, I would also be interested in trying a quince tree if you have extra seeds

    • Diana says:

      the prairies are generally zone 3-4….not zone 6. Hard pressed to grow pomegranate or even most quince unless you bring indoors. even then, I would have my doubts.

      • Janet says:

        Often yards and farms have areas that are « micro-climates », warmer or cooler than the rest of the yard, and than the area generally. Such a warm ‘micro-climate could well grow exotic fruit.

  3. Rob says:

    Nanking Cherries grow wild around Edmonton. Very good.

    • Dustin says:

      One of my favourite fruits. My grandfather had 6 different fruits growing up in Lethbridge. One of them being nanking cherries. Now my uncle in n.e. Calgary has 2 huge bushes that produce 2-3,4litre pails each year pending on weather conditions

  4. Dan Mclean says:

    Great to read on different types of fruits that can grow in Alberta, I live in Lethbridge, Alta. I have 3 different grapes which have been growing for 10 plus years no winter protection, they are Bluebell the first to ripen about mid Aug., KING OF THE nORTH AND Swenson Red both which ripen mid Sept. I have 10 plants which takes up 40 ft. along my fence, these are all very good eating grapes.

  5. meg says:

    Just getting my homestead set up this spring, Where can I find the Grape varieties mentioned? and Blueberries and well pretty well all of it? Also are these all GMO types? or is it selective reproduction?

    • Dave says:

      Meg: I buy most of my plants through T & T Seeds. http://www.ttseeds.com/ And I believe these plants are not genetically modified, but are selectively bred to bring out the best, hardiest qualities!

      • Sandy says:

        I bought my Nanking Cherry tree, Saskatoons and blueberries trees at Hole’s garden in St. Albert. Plus they have 5 years guarantee on their trees as long as you keep your receipts

        All the best!

    • Dan Mclean says:

      I get my grape cuttings from Bert Dunn out of Ontario, Have had good luck with his grapes,You can find his site at Bert Dunns Cold-Hardy Grapes. Good Luck.

  6. Amanda Phillips says:

    Thanks for posting these. I am hoping to grow some fruit next summer. This may have been answered but I didn’t see it, do all of these fruits withstand the winter or do you have to have a greenhouse? I would assume that since you are saying they can be grown in Alberta, you also mean naturally. Thanks in advance!

  7. Celest says:

    I live in Grande Prairie, and I can’t remember if the Red Deer area gets to about the same temps as here in the winter. When I went to school there, I remember it as being a weird weather belt. Can the fruit trees you mentioned (such as cherries and plums grow this far north as well? Would love to have some in the back yard.

  8. Don Birkholz says:

    Interesting to read the comments. I am in SE Montana, Zone 3, but have not had a rough winter in about a dozen years. Have been growing tender fruits (peaches) in a trench, and covering them up over the winter. Have gotten peaches every year since around 1980 but the coons, birds, grasshoppers get most. This year got hailed on twice. Like the white fleshed peaches the best. Have been trying to grow pears for many years. Have been able to get crops, but cannot tell when to pick them. Finally, this year got delicious pears from a tree grown from seed. The pear ripens on the tree and very late (October 15). Got the seed many years ago and they are something like Patten x Parker or Patten x Bartlett, can’t remember. Many years ago I crossed the wild plum with the peach (actually a nectarine). The tree is sterile. Next year I hope to bud the Lapins cherry on P. fruticosa and protect it over the winter. I like the Haralred better than the Haralson. Don Birkholz

    • russell says:

      Hi Don I am zone 3 alberta how deep are your trenches and how do you cover the trees up for the winter

      • Don Birkholz says:

        Russell: I build an A-Frame out of 2 x 4 s, make it as sturdy as possible (now using bolts instead of nails.) Then I place clear plastic over the A-Frame. The 2x4s are around 4 feet apart. The 2x4s are 8 feet on each side. After I put the clear plastic on, I place lots of wood pallets against the plastic so the plastic does not rip up in the wind. Snow should collect most everywhere for added insulation. My trenches are originally 6 feet deep. Then I throw in 3 feet of topsoil I have saved. I haven’t gotten good flavor out of the peaches except for the Saturn (white-fleshed saucer shaped), and Karla Rose (white fleshed nectarine). I am switching varieties now since the Saturn is really small but delicious. I may change to plums since I like them better than peaches and need to protect them from spring frosts anyway. Pipestone plum is delicious here, but haven’t had many since they are hard to pollinate and frost always kills the blossoms. Don

    • Russell Neufeld says:

      Hi Don I am in Taber alberta zone 3 starting to grow all kinds of fruit trees. How deep are your trenches for peaches and what do you cover your peach trees with for the winter and how high up the tree .

  9. Naomi says:

    Can you grow pinenuts in Alberta? I’ve heard that some varieties are zone 2 hardy, but I’m quickly learning that you can’t rely on hardiness zones for tree planting. Lots more to learn!

  10. lynda tait says:

    HI

    Some wild berries you forgot to mention. Bearberry, bunchberry, cloudberry, crowberry,sumac, twisted stalk, fairy bell, false solomons seal, hawthorn,(gooseberry), and my favoite names are prickly pear cactus and skunkbush berry. Have fun with those ones, fyi the prickles sting for a while, like a bee sting.
    Im just outside of swift current saskatchewan. I may have missed a couple.

  11. Alain Jetté says:

    I have started an orchard of my own in zone 3 northern Quebec. Everything I grow is pretty much the same as what is grown in the prairies.
    I have started a bit of everything, including chums and sour cherries (Cupid, Valentine and Crimson passion).

    I have plums, apples, pears and different berries. I am still testing the hardiness of most pears. Many are often advertised as hardy up to zone 3, but get winter killed in zone 3 anyhow.

    I am currently trialing those pear varieties: Miney, Luscious, Summercrisp, Ste-Sophie, Phileson, Old Home, Tait Dropmore, Pioneer #3, early seckel and even a russian cultivar named Lada.

    Don, I realize you posted a year ago, but I would very much like to get in touch to get a hand on a cutting of your seedling pear. If you read me, drop a line.

    • Don Birkholz says:

      My address is Box 572, Broadus, Montana

      • chona Cauilan says:

        Hi Don, have you heard about MULBERRY?Im from Edmonton ,i’ve been trying to find this mulberry tree but no luck,do you have any idea if it’s hardy(i’m in zone 3)thanks

    • Don Birkholz says:

      Another “fruit” you might like to get scions from is my peach (Mericrest nectarine) crossed with the wild plum. The tree is ornamental only as the blooms are sterile and not hardy. I wrote a small article on it and posted it on Wikipedia. (Others have added to the article so it is not all mine). It has had winterkill from some years, but has survived probably 30 years. Go to Wikipedia and type in “prunus persica x prunus americana” in the search engine.

  12. Renate simsa says:

    Can you give me the names of the 17 friuits that you planted? I have not had any luck with the ones sold for our zone 4 .

    Northern Michigan, Traverse City, but not near the water, so the temps are a lot colder.

    • Dave says:

      Renate: All 17 fruits are listed in the article above. If you would like specific varieties for some of them, let me know.

      • cindy says:

        HI. We are moving to buck lake 2.5 hrs from calgary north, highway 13. one hr north of reddeer. can u tell me please which greenhouse i can purchase the haskap, grape plants, plums kiwis cranberries. I have a large area plus a green house. i am one hour from edmonton if that helps. tks cihdy

  13. Renate simsa says:

    Thank you, but like kiwi – there is only a name given for plums – pembria and grapes valiant. Saskatoons -service berry is invasive here, i can grow currants and goodeberries, but need names for applesl, pears, blueberries, chums and cherries (sours only if available)

    Thsnk you

    • Dave says:

      Renate: Sure thing! The apple I have is a Norkent I believe – the pear is a Golden Spice. Blueberries are Patriot and Northland. The chums are Manor. The cherries are Crimson Passion, Rose, and Carmine Jewel.

    • Lukkas says:

      How do you call a native plant invasive???

      Don’t you benefit a great deal from having a plant that thrives there the way the Saskatoons do? If you get some growing where you don’t want them, just coppice them every winter for firewood until they give up the ghost.

  14. Thelma Armstrong says:

    What about Manitoba for edible grapes, etc. I grow pear, pembina plum, raspberries, crabapples, sour cherries. Would love to be able to grow other type of fruits, what do you suggest?

    • Dave says:

      Thelma – It may depend a little on your exact location in Manitoba and on your specific conditions, but I would think that anything in this list of 17 would sure be worth trying where you are.

  15. Carolina says:

    Hi, my son has just bought a house in Edmonton & marries this summer. we would love to give him an apple tree as a pressie but in the middle of summer, can I still plant one? also where can I buy/order one? Be very grateful for your help.

    • Dave says:

      Carolina – Yes, you can plant apple trees in mid-summer. If you were digging one up to transplant, I would recommend waiting until the fall, but any trees you would buy in mid-summer would likely be potted already (since at least the spring). As for where to buy one, there are many good nurseries in the Edmonton area. Since you are flying in from abroad, I’d recommend doing a quick search online for “Edmonton nurseries” and find one that is close to where you will be for the wedding (and confirm that they have the type of apple tree you’re looking for). Depending on the nursery, you maybe be able to buy it ahead of time and just pick it up when you arrive.

  16. Carolina says:

    sorry forgot to mention, we’re flying to the wedding from abroad.

  17. Carolina says:

    Thank you for your answer & help, will look up the Edmonton nurseries.

  18. Benita says:

    I am curious to know under what circumstances someone could grow almond trees in Alberta?

    • Dave says:

      Benita – I don’t know of any almonds that would grow in Alberta. Perhaps someone can correct me if I’m wrong…?

      • Tim says:

        We have an almond bush that grows on our farm in southern Alberta, don’t know the strain though sorry, and it’s hit or miss if we get any almonds off of it depending on the year.

  19. Twyla says:

    Hay Dave, can you pm me I have a few questions!!

  20. Ken Wallewein says:

    You missed two berries that are native to the hot dry areas of southern Alberta: buffalo berries (an acquired taste but I love ’em, saw a bumper crop near Princess last year) and pincushion cactus berries — delicious but getting harder to find for some reason.

    These won’t ever be found in “bush country”, so tend to be overlooked by writers. And you’ll never find blueberries in southern Alberta; the soil is stubbornly alkaline, blueberries can’t tolerate that.

    – Ken

  21. Sandy Hetke says:

    out of curiosity, when do pears ripen in southern Saskatchewan and how do I know they are ripe enough to pick. I do not know much about gardening but I certainly am starting to learn. Thank you for all the past information from everyone. There are a few different fruits I will be looking in to for planting. I purchased 3 lemon plants and 2 lime. The lemons are growing fast, I am excited to see the outcome of them.

  22. AR says:

    I have luck with the sour cherries and norkant apple up in Yellowknife, if it grows here, it can go anywhere down south. Fruit size may vary, for instance, the apple bear fruit of size of lemon and the cherries are of size of a sugar pea, you can actually place them in the pea pod.
    Pear didn’t survive our climate. Saskatoon and Honey berries are common here, along with all the wild berries.

  23. Michael says:

    I have Kiwi, 4 types of grape & adding a 5th this year, 3 apples, 3 cherries, pears, plumbs, apricots, saskatoons, hazelnut, raspberry all in my yard in Red Deer. Every one of them is doing amazing for 2-3 year plants. If anyone wants to come see them or ask anything let me know, I did a lot of work before deciding on species and will share all of that. I would like to add haskip as well but need to landscape a little first.

    • Glenn Robson says:

      I’d love to come see your collection. I’m a horticulture student at Olds college. Currently working on a prairie hardy fruit assignment and I’d love to see Kiwi in action. I live in Red Deer so if it’s not to much trouble I’d love to come pick your brain! Thanks for any info.

    • Mark Ilyin says:

      Would you mind sharing which varieties of grapes, cherries and apples you have, and which ones are your favorites? Also, which varieties have you noticed tend to grow better?

      I live in Peace River and grow Romeo cherry, Saskatoons, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Have tried blackberries and grapes but they died. We didn’t have the harshest winter either. Half my blueberry plants are struggling and the others do just ok but if you compare their growth to Haskap the blueberries don’t look very successful. I even created the right soil for them to thrive in zone 2 but hasn’t taken off like they do in interior BC.

      Thanks,

    • Brian Short says:

      Hey Mike! You seem to share the same passion for testing Central Alberta winters for fruit growing as me! I moved to Blackfalds in 2016 but at my old home in Red Deer I grew Plums, Pears, Honey Berriea, and tons of grapes! My grapes were over 15 feet high and produced pounds and pounds of grapes! Last year at my new home I again planted grapes, combination apple as my wife wanted honey crisp, 2 combination pear which already produced this year and were so delicious, Romeo,Juliet, and carmine jewel sour cherry, blueberry which are struggling a bit but very young, more honey berries as they are so hardy and tasty, Josta Berry, Kiwi, and also a combination Apricot. My question is, has your Apricot produced any and if so what is the name of it? Mine is a combination of Scout and another one which I can’t remember at the moment. The funny thing is that there were three different branches and leaves and I was wondering what it was. It started producing and I was so excited! I figured wow after only a year of planting it grew and Apricot. They started turning golden but I couldn’t help but notice they were not fuzzy or anything like and Apricot but when i ate one it was a delicious plum?? So my tree is actually an apricot Plum Combo…..weird?? Anyways just curious as I would love to successfully grow and Apricot and was wondering if you had any luck?? Sorry this is long but I look forward to hearing from you!! Cheers! Brian

    • Brian Short says:

      Hi Mike!You seem to share the same passion for testing Central Alberta winters for fruit growing as me! I moved to Blackfalds in 2016 but at my old home in Red Deer I grew Plums, Pears, Honey Berriea, and tons of grapes! My grapes were over 15 feet high and produced pounds and pounds of grapes! Last year at my new home I again planted grapes, combination apple as my wife wanted honey crisp, 2 combination pear which already produced this year and were so delicious, Romeo,Juliet, and carmine jewel sour cherry, blueberry which are struggling a bit but very young, more honey berries as they are so hardy and tasty, Josta Berry, Kiwi, and also a combination Apricot. My question is, has your Apricot produced any and if so what is the name of it? Mine is a combination of Scout and another one which I can’t remember at the moment. The funny thing is that there were three different branches and leaves and I was wondering what it was. It started producing and I was so excited! I figured wow after only a year of planting it grew and Apricot. They started turning golden but I couldn’t help but notice they were not fuzzy or anything like and Apricot but when i ate one it was a delicious plum?? So my tree is actually an apricot Plum Combo…..weird?? Anyways just curious as I would love to successfully grow and Apricot and was wondering if you had any luck?? Sorry this is long but I look forward to hearing from you!! Cheers! Brian

      • Rachel Shang says:

        Hello Brian,

        What type of grapes you plant in Red Deer? I will move to Caroline and will plant a lot of fruit trees. Grape will be my first priority.

        Thanks.

        Rachel

    • Van Downbytheriver says:

      Hi Michael, I live in Red Deer and would very much like to see your yard and pick your brain about fruit trees and such.

      My email is ihearthappyendings@yahoo.ca

  24. Brenda says:

    Hello I live in St. Paul, Alberta, and was wondering if anyone has had luck growing blackberries (Chester I believe the name is) if you have how did you over winter them? Thank you!

  25. Lovely says:

    Can i grow lemon tree in Regina

  26. Rosa Holden says:

    You people ALL make me SICK!!!!! hehehe, My mouth drools just reading your posts. I live south and East of Beaverlodge. And am also new to this growing tree fruits. Only a couple apples right now, but LOVE hearing about all the plants that make Zone 2 and 3 their home. For me still can’t beat a wild tiny strawberry the flavor- WOW!!
    Thank you for all the suggestions, see what happens. Also love just seeing all this go into bloom. 🙂

  27. Tracy says:

    Kiwis can grow here as well

  28. Geof Barrington says:

    U of S in Saskatoon has some fantastic apples for the prairies

  29. Mario says:

    The only fruit trees I’m so sure edible are apples especially the crab ones that are ready for picking from neighbour’s yards. I always see fruits that look like cherries and plums. But nobody touching them. How to the edible ones?

  30. Jim says:

    Which edible cold-wx fruits needs the least maintenance from a spraying/pest management

  31. Dan Wiebe says:

    Hi. I’d like to try growing an apricot tree. Can you send me the link to the nursery you mentioned is growing them? Thanks, Dan

    • Dave says:

      Dan: Apricot trees are actually getting quite common around here – I bought one from Costco last year. But my first apricot came from ttseeds.com

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