10 fruit trees good to grow in the UAE

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Bruce Pedersen, nursery production, sales and technical manager at Marmara International Landscaping,​ recommends some fruit trees that, with the right care, will flourish in the UAE.

Nearly all citrus trees will do well here. They like the heat and will tolerate humidity. Try orange, grapefruit, lemon, mandarin and limes. They will need to be nurtured through the summer, so keep them watered but don’t over water or you will cause rot. Avoid putting irrigation too close to the stem. Citrus is often grafted on to the existing root stock of other citrus-fruit species, so check that the graft union is well established and strong when selecting your plants. Prune away any shoots from below the graft as continuing maintenance to discourage the plant from reverting to its original stock. If you see a tree simultaneously bearing lemons and oranges, this is why.

Pomegranates are tough shrubs and some trees can grow to a height of several metres. Give them good soil and regular water and they will offer pretty scarlet flowers and, ultimately, fruit.

For a tropical look and interesting form, try papaya. It likes rich, moist, well-drained soil in sun or part shade. Young plants fruit more heavily, so it’s good to plan for succession planting.

Bananas also give a lush and tropical feel and can flower and bear fruit within 18 months of their first shoot from root stock. Trees need protection from hot summer winds, which may cause them to break, but they do tolerate heat and humidity well if given plenty of water.

Figs have attractive scented leaves and will also grow fairly well, but they need to be protected from the wind in summer, as the stems can burn, which can cause die back. They like and need a sunny position and well-drained soil, and they will also grow well in containers.

Most grape vines will also grow here, but are very susceptible to humidity and mildew, and coming out of summer will most likely need to be treated with a fungicide. They like to be trained and tend to thrive more in a clay soil. They will grow quite well in heavy soils – digging clay through your soil will help stop water draining away too quickly. Grapes really benefit from a heavy pruning after fruiting to encourage next season’s growth.

Pineapples (although not strictly a tree) are slow growing and will produce fruit in their second year. They like well-drained, slightly acidic soils and regular feeding to encourage growth.

Increasingly, landscapers are bringing olive trees into planting schemes, and while they are good ornamentals, don’t invest in an olive press. The trees need occasional cold weather to be truly productive, so you are unlikely to harvest a significant crop.

Some mango trees will also grow in the UAE, as will some guava, mulberry and passion fruit. As with apples and pears, nectarines and apricots are unlikely to thrive.

Unsurprisingly, date palms feature on the list, of which there are hundreds of different cultivars, each with their own characteristics and flavour. However, it can be difficult to source a named variety when buying off the side of the road, as they too often are not correctly labelled.