Dave Wilson’s Top 21 Fruit Trees for the Southwest US

A Necta-plum from our tree harvested in July 2010.

Do you live in a warm climate and have less than 500 chill hours? “Rock star orchardist” Tom Spellman, with the Dave Wilson Nursery, has some suggestions for low chill fruit tree varieties based on productivity and performance. His recommendations:

  • Dorsett golden apple
  • Fuji apple
  • Pink Lady apple
  • Cot-N-Candy Aprium
  • Flavor Delight Aprium
  • Minnie Royal cherry
  • Royal Lee cherry
  • Arctic Star nectarine
  • Double Delight nectarine
  • Snow Queen nectarine
  • Spice Zee Necta-Plum
  • August Pride peach
  • Donut peach
  • Eva’s Pride peach
  • Red Baron peach
  • Burgundy plum
  • Emerald Drop pluot
  • Flavor Grenade pluot
  • Flavor King pluot
  • Splash pluot

Of the trees on this list, we’ve got the Spice Zee Necta-Plum, a beautiful tree with pink blossoms andĀ  red leaves in the spring that produces a super sweet fruit. It’s still too young to evaluate it’s performance but I’m happy to have it in our garden. We also have a Fuji apple that’s a few years old which is growing but has yet to produce fruit. Last year we also planted a Flavor Delight aprium (in a less than ideal location), and it’s also too early to evaluate its performance.

We sourced almost all of our trees by mail through the Bay Laurel Nursery, which carries Dave Wilson’s trees (Dave Wilson is wholesale only). Get your orders in now as Bay Laurel sells out of many varieties by the time they ship in February.

You can read the complete list of Tom Spellman’s low chill fruit suggestions with hisĀ  comments here.

If you have mature versions of any of these trees please leave a comment and let us know where you live and how your trees are doing.

Thanks to Ari Kletzky for suggesting this list.

Leave a comment


  1. I can personally vouch for the tastiness of the Dorsett Golden, Fuji, and Pink Lady apples as well as the August Pride peach. They all did fantastic in my garden when I lived in San Diego, CA. I’ll also vouch for Bay Laurel Nursery as I ordered all my trees (and blueberry bushes) from them and they arrived in great condition and all thrived.

  2. Erik – when I planted my Pluot I was told it was not self-polinating, and I would need a Santa Rosa Plum for cross polination. Before any of your readers purchase a Pluot (the same thing might be true for Apriums) you might want to caution your readers to ask the nurseryman if the tree is self-polinating.

  3. Max–thanks for the reminder. The Bay Laurel catalog and Dave Wilson’s website mention the need for a pollinator if one is needed. We have a Santa Rosa plum for our pluot. This kind of information is another reason to order through a good nursery and not go to a big box store.

  4. We have the Eva’s Pride Peach and they are the BEST. We also have both of the cherries listed… Mini Royal and Royal Lee… We had an outdoor party earlier this year with 30+ people and everyone hung out by the cherry trees eating them the whole time! At the end of the day the trees were bare! They are DELICIOUS.

  5. I’m surprise POMEGRANITE isn’t on the list. I live in Palmdale, with clayish/desert type soil and this plant thrives here.

    Love pomegranite juice, if anyone has other ideas how to consume this great fruit, ie jams, tea, pies, etc. I need ideas, I’ve only been squeezing them, straining and drinking straight.

  6. @Anon: You’re right–pmegranite is a fantastic fruit! We have a tree. I’m sure you could make jelly out of the juice, but we’ve never tried.

    Have you ever tried the seeds with salt and pepper on them? That’s my favorite way to eat them. And if you don’t know this tip, either, its invaluable: when you seed a pomegranite, do it in a bowl of water. There’s no staining. The chafe floats to the top while the seeds fall to the bottom. It’s fantastic.

  7. My chickens love the inner white seed from pomegranites (after you suck out the juice!). It’s one of their favorite treats along with cantalope seeds.

  8. I live in the Phx area and have Golden Dorsett and Anna apples. Anna is another low chill variety that does well here. All 4 trees are pretty prolific. I don’t have actual pounds produced but it was alot of smallish green apples. One tree was even transplanted from another part of the yard and did well. The trees are 2-3 years old and a bit over 6 ft tall.

  9. From my location in the now-thoroughly-chilled Zone 5, I’m both astonished and delighted at the thought of a less than 500 chill hours garden! Thanks for letting me peek into your warm, green world!

  10. I have about half of the trees on the list. Fuji apple, Cot-N-Candy Aprium, Flavor Delight Aprium, Minnie Royal cherry, Royal Lee cherry, Spice Zee Necta-Plum, Eva’s Pride peach, Emerald Drop pluot, Flavor King pluot and Splash pluot.

    The Splash Pluot and Eva’s Pride peach have been heavy producers for me. The rest have had a few fruit at the most. My trees vary from three years to newly planted. All of the trees that have fruited have had very tasty fruit.

    I am surprised that Dapple Dandy Pluot is not on the list. It consistently scores in the top ten at Dave Wilson’s taste tests. Ed Laivo, at Dave Wilson, also personally recommend it to me for low chill areas.

    One other thing to consider regarding Pluot pollination is bloom time. I have a Santa Rosa and it blooms too late for most of my Pluots. Luckily I have enough Pluots to pollinate each other.

  11. I live in San Diego near the coast (Point Loma), with VERY low chill hours, usually well under 100. We have an Anna apple tree that has been here since we moved in 12 years ago, not sure how old it is. The apples are delicious. They’re better if you pick them when they are just starting to turn from green to red, maybe 1/4 red. By the time they’re all red they are mealy and too sweet. They make great applesauce, which is how I freeze what we can’t use fresh.

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