How Much Sun Do Fruit Trees Need?

Growing fruit trees in your backyard mean having lots of your favorite fruit fresh. Growing fruit trees in your yard may seem like an excellent idea, but there are many factors to consider before embarking on this tree. Fruit trees need space, some have cold requirements, and many require cross-pollination to set fruit, combined with a sunny site.

Fruit trees require at least six hours of direct sunlight each day while actively growing to thrive. Sunlight is needed for the fruit to create a healthy color and excellent flavor. During the first and second growing seasons, young trees may require sunburn protection for their trunks.

Because the canopies of young trees are usually not large enough to offer shade for the tree trunk, it is necessary to paint the trunks and any major limbs that are also visible to reflect sunlight. The outer trunks and branches of trees can be painted using half water and half white interior latex paint.

Sun Requirements for Various Fruits

There is something very satisfying about going out into your yard and picking a fresh, ripe piece of fruit right off the tree, isn’t there? Here at Nature Hills, we hear stories from our friends in Florida and California about the pleasure they get from having fresh fruit from their clementines, kumquats, and lemons. Our Georgia friends write in about their peaches and nectarines. And don’t get us started on the apple lovers out there!

Fruit trees are a wonderful indulgence and easy to grow for the most part. They can tolerate less than perfect soil. Once they are established, many can weather a short drought or two. Some can even survive a bitter northern winter without a second thought. One thing they all must-have, though, is the right amount of sunlight. If they get too much shade, you might not have a dead tree, but you certainly won’t get the fruit you want.

Here are some guidelines for you if you plan on planting your little orchard:

Apples and pears need eight hours of sun a day. I am especially appreciative of the morning sun for drying the leaves and reducing the chance of diseases.

Figs need 8 hours of sun and ample space to grow. These guys can get so big they cast shade on the whole garden. The trunks can get sunburned, so that white paint might be needed in the hottest parts of the world.

Citrus, Orangeslemonslimeskumquatsgrapefruits, and tangerines all need a full day of sun, at least 6 hours. They don’t like frost and need a year-round warm climate. Some dwarf varieties do well as indoor potted plants, given well-drained soil and plenty of winter light from a window.

Beautiful flowers and fruits are the rewards of giving this good tree drainage (they are susceptible to root rot if they sit in water) and 8 hours of sun a day.

Bananas require a tropical climate and at least 6 hours of sunlight per day to produce their best fruit. Otherwise, they are just pretty ornaments. Which isn’t bad, but your pet monkey might be a little upset.

Peach and nectarine require 6 hours of sun, and good air circulation around the leaves will give you a bumper crop. A little afternoon shade will keep the leaves from burning in scorching climates.

Other Requirments For Fruit Trees

Chill Requirement

To grow fruit trees successfully, you need to know what trees grow in your area. Many trees require a particular amount of cold weather every year to grow and blossom successfully; this is known as the “chill requirement” and is calculated in hours needed at temperatures at or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Many citrus trees are frost or cold-sensitive. Thus, they need a lot of heat to grow.


Along with the cold factor is the climate where you live. Fruit trees vary widely in their ability to withstand freezing temperatures. Most citrus trees incur damage in temperatures below freezing, or 32 degrees F, whereas some varieties of apples, hybrid plums, and cherries can resist temperatures well below freezing. Planting trees away from frost pockets and preventing frost damage to blossoms can often allow you to grow fruit trees outside of their natural range.


Fruit trees rely on sunlight and wind for pollination. It’s essential to have enough room for substantial fruit trees or to plant semi-dwarf types that grow to just half or three-fourths the size of ordinary trees if you want a fully grown apple to reach a width of 40 feet and a spread of 30 to 40 feet broad. You also have the possibility of growing dwarf fruit tree species that grow about 5 to 10 feet tall.


Many varieties of fruit trees require cross-pollination to set fruit. Cross-pollination is necessary for pollination trees like apples, plums, and pears, so you should plant a second tree of a different variety at the same time. Other trees, such as apricot, peach, and nectarine, are self-fruitful, which means pollen from the same cultivar in the region can pollinate the tree. However, with self-fruitful cultivars, fruit output is improved if more than one tree is planted in the region.

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