FRUIT TREES, plants, and bushes are tasteful additions to your yard and kitchen. We consulted Carol Carraux, a local NC State Extension Master Gardener, who provided five of her favorite fruits to incorporate into local landscapes. She also gave us a few tips for healthy plants and bountiful harvests. Images by Sarah Ferone.
As landscape plants, blueberry shrubs are worth looking at in all four seasons, from the small, white flowers that appear in spring to their semi-evergreen leaves in winter. Rabbiteye varieties are native to North America and grow very well in the Southeast. They can grow up to 15 feet high. Carraux adds used coffee grounds to the soil near the bushes to provide more acidity. If you don’t want to share with the birds, she recommends netting the shrubs.
For those with large, open spaces, a grape vine is a fitting choice. Muscadine grapes are native to North Carolina, and the Scuppernong variety is the state fruit. Muscadines are eaten fresh off the vine or used for making wines, pies, and jellies. Grape vines do require trellising, training, and pruning.
Fig trees like our area’s clay soil and full sun. Celeste and Brown Turkey are two varieties that work well here. Once established, fig trees don’t require much maintenance. The broad, sturdy leaves are architecturally attractive, and one tree usually bears plenty of fruit for a household.
Strawberry plants are good for those with limited space; they do well in the ground or in containers. They need good drainage and plenty of sun. Earliglow, Delmarvel, and Jewel are recommended varieties for this area and are known for their quality and disease resistance.
Blackberries fall into the brambles category, which also includes raspberries, loganberries, and boysenberries. Blackberries are well suited to our area, have few pest problems, and can be trailing, semi-trailing, or erect. Some newer varieties are thornless. Don’t expect immediate payoff, however—most brambles take two years to bear fruit.