Alabama's warm climate makes it an excellent habitat for many fruit trees, including citrus, peaches and nectarines. Cooler climate fruits, such as apples, also grow in Alabama with proper care. Planting fruit trees at the correct time ensures healthy growth and successful fruiting later on.
Most apple varieties grow well in northern and parts of central Alabama. Some more heat-adapted types, such as Granny Smith, also work well in southern Alabama. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System recommends setting out dormant apples in January and February.
Southern Alabama gardeners can successfully grow the more cold-hardy varieties of citrus fruits, including early oranges, tangerines, lemons and limes. Plant citrus trees during the late winter months, ideally under the canopy of a pine or other evergreen to prevent frost formation. Provide as much sun exposure as possible.
Nectarines grow well in central Alabama. A few cold-tolerant varieties do well in the northern counties, but many conventional nectarines cannot tolerate freezing weather. Southern growers should choose nectarines with a low chilling requirement. Plant nectarines during January and February; fertilize them in February.
A variety of peach types grow in Alabama, but growers should take care to select varieties with chilling requirements appropriate to their area. In northern counties, choose peaches with a chilling requirement of 850 hours or greater. In southern counties choose varieties that require 500 to 650 hours. Plant peaches in late winter and protect trees against freezing during early spring.