Which trees do best in Tehachapi?
I have been asked several times just this past week for citrus and avocado trees. You can tell when people are just moving to Tehachapi by what they ask for.
I had to tell them I'm sorry, but they don't grow up here in the mountains. Why not? Citrus is damaged when the temperature is 25-27 degrees for 3 to 4 hours during the night.
This year our low so far has been around 16 degrees, which could kill a citrus tree, at least the flowers, for the coming season. They grow great in Bakersfield, but we are so different up here at 45 minutes away. That would indicate that people are moving here from warmer climates where they could grow them.
So what fruit and nut trees can grow in Tehachapi? Let me give you an idea. Tehachapi is a high chill area, meaning many hours below 45 degrees. Apples, for instance, need 800 "chill hours" below 45 degrees to produce, that's why apples do so well here. Apple, pear, and fruiting quince trees are great here. Quince trees are native to parts of Eastern Europe and Asia and are enjoyed for their ornamental beauty and the cooking qualities of the fragrant fruit. The fruit makes great jams and jellies. Peaches, if you choose the late flowering varieties, do great here. Some of my favorites are: Rio oso, Reliance, Belle of Georgia, O'Henry, late Elberta, and Golden Glory (dwarf peach). Some nectarines do well but only late flowering varieties. I love Arctic Fantasy nectarines. Same for plums. Autumn Rosa, late Santa Rosa, and Satsuma all have done well here.
Everyone loves apricots, probably because they flower early. What does that tell you? I have found a couple of varieties that do well here, including Chinese, Moorpark, and Tilton. These won't produce every year but, again, we are a late frost area, and won't produce if the flowers freeze.
Cherries do great in Tehachapi, but not so well at 4,500 feet elevation and up. Bing, Lapins, Rainier cherries (my favorite), and Stella are good sweet cherries. Also the pie cherries (sour) do well here. Figs, pomegranates, persimmon (Fuju) and fruiting mulberry are worth a try. Many grapes do well here, also.
Some walnuts and almonds are worth trying here. Almonds bloom early but most can fruit regardless of how cold it gets. They are more frost resistant. A lot of people plant them for their flowers.
Blackberry, boysenberry, and raspberries have done well here. Try Fall Gold raspberry.
I have found several blueberries that are excellent if planted in acid soil. Precaution: Plant raspberries and blackberries in different parts of the yard or they may cross pollinate and you could get a black raspberry.
Well I am running out of space and time. Thanks for reading this article and if you have any questions come on in.
Mountain Garden Nursery & Pet is located at 503 South Curry St., Tehachapi. (661) 822-4960.