The Best Fruit Trees And Bushes To Grow In Zone 3

The Best Fruit Trees And Bushes To Grow In Zone 3

USDA zone 3 is one of the northernmost zones for successfully growing various types of crops. Some types of fruit successfully grow in this zone, despite the extremely cold temperatures that are common. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the top fruit trees to grow in Zone 3!

(Featured Image: Cold Climate Apple Orchard by T. Frix)

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USDA Zone 3 Average Temperatures

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 3 experiences very cold temperatures, especially during the winter months. The average minimum winter temperature in Zone 3 ranges from -40°F to -30°F (-40°C to -34°C). These low temperatures mean fruit trees need to be able to bear fruit with a shorter growing season than most fruit trees.

Due to these extremely low temperatures, gardening and agriculture in Zone 3 can be challenging. Gardeners and farmers must choose cold-hardy plant varieties and implement winter protection measures to ensure the survival and success of their crops and plants.

The USDA Growing zone map which shows Zone 4 in the northern part of the country.

USDA Growing Zone Map

Top 8 Fruit Trees And Bushes For Zone 3

1. Honeygold Apples

Honeygold apple trees (Malus domestica ‘Honeygold’) are a fun and delicious addition to any orchard or garden. This cold-hardy apple variety is well-suited for northern climates, including USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 3. The trees have a moderately vigorous growth habit and reach a mature height of around 12 to 15 feet (3.7 to 4.6 meters).

Their attractive white-pink blossoms in spring provide a lovely display. After the flowers fade, fruit will ripen in late summer to early fall. The Honeygold apples are medium to large in size with a golden-yellow skin that may have a slight red blush on the sun-exposed side. Beneath the thin and smooth skin lies crisp, and juicy flesh that has a hint of honey taste. These apples are ideal for fresh eating or baking.

To view purchasing options for Honeygold apple trees, click here!

Ripe Honeygold apples hang from a tree in colder climates of zone 3.

Honeygold Apple Tree

2. Stevens Cranberry

Stevens cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon ‘Stevens’) is a widely grown cranberry variety known for its exceptional fruit yield and bright red berries. This low-growing evergreen shrub thrives in acidic, well-drained soils. Cranberries grow well in marshy areas where other fruit trees would not survive.

The Stevens cranberry plants form dense mats of slender, trailing stems with small, glossy leaves. The trailing pattern of this plant also makes it an excellent ground cover! In the fall, this plant produces plump, deep red cranberries that are picked for their tart and well-rounded flavor. 

Known for its high productivity and disease resistance, the Stevens cranberry is a favored choice among cranberry growers, providing a bountiful harvest and contributing to the popularity of this delightful, antioxidant-rich fruit in various culinary delights, juices, and holiday traditions.

To view purchasing options for Stevens cranberry plants, click here!

Stevens Cranberry Plant

3. Chelan Cherries

The Chelan cherry tree (Prunus avium ‘Chelan’) is a popular and highly regarded sweet cherry variety known for its excellent fruit quality and productivity. This deciduous tree displays an attractive growth habit, reaching a moderate height at maturity. Its lush, dark green foliage provides a lovely backdrop for the profusion of large, heart-shaped cherries that ripen in mid-season.

The Chelan cherry boasts a deep red to almost black skin with firm, juicy, and sweet flesh that delights taste buds with its delectable flavor. This self-fertile cherry tree is a reliable producer, making it a favored choice among home gardeners and orchard growers alike, ensuring a bountiful harvest of succulent cherries for fresh eating, desserts, and a range of culinary creations.

To view purchasing options for Chelan cherry trees, click here!

Chelan cherry trees produce a dark red fruit that is easily grown in cold climates like zone 3.

Chelan Cherry Tree

4. Indigo Treat Haskap (Honeyberry)

Indigo Treat Haskap (Lonicera caerulea ‘Indigo Treat’) is an exciting and unique fruiting shrub celebrated for its tasty and nutritious berries. This deciduous plant, also known as honeyberry, boasts an appealing upright growth habit and vibrant green foliage. In early spring, delicate, pendulous flowers bloom, giving way to the elongated, dark blue-purple berries that ripen in early summer.

The Indigo Treat Haskap’s berries possess a delightful blend of sweet and tangy flavors, making them perfect for fresh eating, jams, jellies, and various culinary delights. Notably, these berries are rich in antioxidants and nutrients, adding to their appeal as a health-conscious choice for gardeners seeking to diversify their fruit harvest and savor the distinctive taste of this delectable and easy-to-grow shrub.

To view purchasing options for Indigo Treat haskap plants, click here!

Indigo Treat Haskap berries ripen on the plant that is grown in a cold, northern climate.

Indigo Treat Haskap (Honeyberry)

5. Black Ice Plum

The Black Ice plum tree (Prunus salicina ‘Black Ice’) is an enchanting and cold-hardy fruit tree prized for its delicious and striking dark purple fruits. This small to medium-sized deciduous tree exhibits a pleasing rounded canopy adorned with glossy green leaves. In early spring, fragrant pinkish-white blossoms grace the branches, attracting pollinators and heralding the imminent arrival of the luscious fruit.

The Black Ice plum tree produces medium to large-sized, deep purple plums with sweet and juicy yellow flesh. This delectable fruit is perfect for fresh eating, preserves, and baked goods, captivating taste buds with its exceptional flavor profile. Ideal for cold climate gardeners, the Black Ice plum tree delights both gardeners and fruit enthusiasts with its hardiness, ornamental beauty, and delectable harvest of flavorful plums.

To view purchasing options for Black Ice Plum trees, click here!

The dark skin of the black ice plum tree thrives in colder climates like zone 3.

Black Ice Plums

6. Lowbush Blueberry

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), also known as wild blueberry or Maine blueberry, is a small, deciduous shrub renowned for its bountiful harvest of tiny, sweet, and flavorful berries. This native North American plant has a low-spreading growth habit, typically growing close to the ground, making it ideal for ground cover or edging in gardens.

In spring, the lowbush blueberry blooms with delicate, bell-shaped white or pinkish flowers, adding a touch of charm to the landscape. Come summer, the plant produces an abundance of deep blue, almost purple, berries that are rich in nutrients.

To view purchasing options for Lowbush blueberry plants, click here!

The lowbush blueberry plant is one of the most cold-hardy blueberry varieties available.

Lowbush Blueberry

7. Sweet Sixteen Apples

The Sweet Sixteen apple tree (Malus domestica ‘Sweet Sixteen’) is a captivating and cold-hardy fruit tree celebrated for its distinctive, aromatic, and sweet flavor profile. This medium-sized deciduous tree showcases an attractive spreading growth habit, adorned with vibrant pinkish-white blossoms in the spring.

As summer transitions into fall, the Sweet Sixteen apple tree produces medium to large-sized apples with a stunning maroon-red blush over a yellow background. Its crisp and juicy flesh delights taste buds with a perfect balance of sweetness and tartness, often described as having hints of cherry and vanilla. Ideal for fresh eating, baking, and cider making, the Sweet Sixteen apple is a perfect addition to orchards and gardens, chosen for both its ornamental beauty and delicious fruit harvest.

To view purchasing options for Sweet Sixteen apple trees, click here!

The marbled skin of the sweet sixteen apple makes a great addition to zone 3 gardens and orchards.

Sweet Sixteen Apple Tree

8. Romeo & Juliet Cherry 

Romeo and Juliet cherry trees are a captivating and unique pair of cherry tree varieties, bred specifically for their compatibility as pollinators. The Romeo cherry tree (Prunus avium ‘Romeo’) exhibits a handsome and vigorous growth habit, while the Juliet cherry tree (Prunus avium ‘Juliet’) displays an elegant and slightly more compact form. In the spring, both trees blossom with beautiful clusters of fragrant, white-pink flowers, creating a picturesque scene.

In summer, the Romeo tree produces medium-sized, dark red cherries, while the Juliet tree yields plump, light red fruits, both showcasing sweet and juicy flesh with delightful flavors. These cherry trees are ideal companions that make a great pair for pollinator trees. Romeo & Juliet are a top choice for orchards and gardens both for their ability to produce fruit and cross pollinate with other trees.

To view purchasing options for Romeo and Juliet cherry trees, click here!

The combination of Romeo and Juliet cherry trees creates a wonderfully robust cherry harvest in cold climates because of the number of chill hours.

Romeo & Juliet Cherry Trees

What Areas Are Included In Growing Zone 3?

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 3 has extremely cold winters and encompasses a large portion of North America. It covers several regions in the United States and Canada. Here are the regions included in USDA Zone 3:

United States

  • Northernmost parts of Alaska, including areas like Barrow (Utqiaġvik).
  • Northern parts of the continental United States, including portions of Alaska (interior regions), northern Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and parts of northeastern Washington, northern Idaho, and northern Maine.
  • High-elevation areas in the Rocky Mountains, particularly in Colorado, Wyoming, and western Montana.
  • Some areas in the northern Great Lakes region, including parts of Upper Michigan, Wisconsin, and northern Minnesota.

Canada

  • Large parts of the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories.
  • Northern and central regions of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
  • Northern Ontario, including some areas along the northern shores of Lake Superior, Lake Huron, and James Bay.
  • Parts of northern Quebec and Labrador.
  • Northern regions of British Columbia, including some interior areas.

Learn More About Growing Fruit Trees!

Once established, fruit trees can be one of the most rewarding plants to grow. Annual fruit harvests are something that the whole family can look forward to! Check out these step-by-step growing guides to learn more about growing fruit trees:

Apple tree with ripe apples grown in Traverse City, Michigan.

Apple Tree by B. Greenlee