Cross Polination

Asked March 2, 2016, 7:53 PM EST

Are there any concerns that i should be aware of if I am planting the "three sisters" corn squash and beans close to apple and pear trees?

Washington County Oregon cross pollination horticulture

2 Responses

Thank you for your question.

Planting vegetables close to your fruit trees poses no pollination problems because:

  1. Pollination between different genuses of plants does not happen unless they are very closely related. Fruit trees, corn, squash and beans are not.
  2. They have completely different bloom times, so no pollen could possibly reach from the vegetables plant to the trees or vice versa.
Some factors that could be problematic are:
  1. The trees could cast too much shade for these sun-loving vegetables, which require about 8-10 hour of sun per day to bloom and produce fruit.
  2. The vegetables you mention require nitrogen in our soils, which is not necessary for fruit trees. Heavy fertilizing can put too much softwood growth on the tree, thus weakening it and leaving it susceptible to disease.
So with that in mind, it is okay to plant vegetables among your fruit trees, with a couple of caveats. You should monitor the amount of sun your vegetables will be getting before planting so that you can get a return for your efforts. You should also use slow-release nitrogen fertilizer on your vegetables to avoid overdosing your trees.

To get some good information on vegetables and their nutritive requirements, you can download our publication, Growing Your Own, free of charge here: http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/handle/1957/21092

While we're talking about proper care and maintenance of trees, allow me to suggest another publication, Growing Tree Fruit and Nuts in the Home Orchard, downloadable, free of charge, here: http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/13718/EC%20819.pdf

I do hope this information helps.

Thank you again for using Ask an Expert

Thank you for our question.

Planting vegetables close to your fruit trees poses no pollination problems because:

  1. Pollination between different genuses of plants does not happen unless they are very closely related. Fruit trees, corn, squash and beans are not.
  2. They have completely different bloom times, so no pollen could possibly reach from the vegetables plant to the trees or vice versa.
Some factors that could be problematic are:
  1. The trees could cast too much shade for these sun-loving vegetables, which require about 8-10 hours of sun per day to bloom and produce fruit.
  2. The vegetables you mention require nitrogen in our soils, which is not necessary for fruit trees. Heavy fertilizing can put too much softwood growth on the tree, thus weakening it and leaving it susceptible to disease.
So with that in mind, it is okay to plant vegetables among your fruit trees, with a couple of caveats. You should monitor the amount of sun your vegetables will be getting before planting so that you can get a return for your efforts. You should also use slow-release nitrogen fertilizer on your vegetables to avoid overdosing your trees.

To get some good information on vegetables and their nutritive requirements, you can download our publication, Growing Your Own, free of charge here: http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/handle/1957/21092

While we're talking about proper care and maintenance of trees, allow me to suggest another publication, Growing Tree Fruit and Nuts in the Home Orchard, downloadable, free of charge, here: http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/13718/EC%20819.pdf

I do hope this information helps.

Thank you again for using Ask an Expert