Top 13 Fruit Trees And Bushes To Grow In Zone 4

Top 13 Fruit Trees And Bushes To Grow In Zone 4

Growing Conditions In USDA Zone 4

Zone 4 is often known for its cold, harsh winters and mild summers. Despite the frequently cold temperatures this growing zone has, there is a surprisingly wide variety of fruit trees and bushes that can be grown there. In this article, we’ll break down the best cold hardy fruit trees and bushes to grow in zone 4 based on their hardiness and fruit production.

(Featured Image: Stone Fruit Harvest by T. Avery)

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What Regions Are Included In USDA Zone 4?

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map divides the United States into different plant hardiness zones based on average annual minimum temperatures. Each zone is designated by a specific number and represents a 10-degree Fahrenheit difference in the average minimum temperature between adjacent zones. USDA Zone 4 has minimum average temperatures ranging from -30 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-34.4 to -28.9 degrees Celsius).

Some areas included in USDA Zone 4 are typically found in the northern parts of the United States, including regions in states like:

  1. Montana
  2. North Dakota
  3. South Dakota
  4. Minnesota
  5. Wisconsin
  6. Michigan (Upper Peninsula)
  7. Maine (northern areas)
  8. New Hampshire (northern areas)
  9. Vermont (northern areas)
  10. Upstate New York
  11. Northern Idaho
  12. Northern Wyoming

It’s important to note that this is just a general guideline, and local factors such as elevation, proximity to large bodies of water, and microclimates can influence the actual plant hardiness in specific locations. Check out the map below to see what zone your region falls in.

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

USDA Growing Zone Map

The Best Fruit Trees And Fruit Bushes To Grow In Zone 4

1. Heritage Everbearing Raspberry Plant

The Heritage everbearing raspberry plant (Rubus idaeus ‘Heritage’) is a popular and highly regarded cultivar known for its exceptional fruit production and extended harvest season. This perennial deciduous shrub typically grows to a height of 4 to 6 feet and features vigorous canes with thorns. The plant produces large, juicy, and flavorful red raspberries that are firm and perfect for fresh eating, canning, and baking. 

One of the plant’s notable characteristics is its ability to bear fruit both in the summer and late fall, offering gardeners a continuous supply of delicious berries throughout the growing season. With its hardiness, adaptability, and sweet fruits, the heritage everbearing raspberry plant is a favorite choice for home gardeners seeking a bountiful and rewarding addition to their cold climate berry patch.

To view purchasing options for Heritage Everbearing Raspberry plants, click here!

Heritage everbearing raspberries are cold hardy and can be grown in USDA zone 4.

Heritage Everbearing Raspberries

2. Honeycrisp Apple Tree

The Honeycrisp apple tree (Malus domestica ‘Honeycrisp’) is a prized and popular deciduous fruit tree known for its exceptional fruit quality and delightful flavor. This medium to large tree typically reaches heights of 15 to 20 feet and features a spreading growth habit. The honeycrisp apple is celebrated for its crisp and juicy texture, making it a top choice for fresh eating. The fruit’s sweet-tart flavor profile with hints of honey and its satisfying crunch have made it a favorite among apple enthusiasts.

The tree blooms in the spring, producing beautiful white and pink blossoms that attract pollinators to ensure a successful fruit set. With its cold hardiness and adaptability to various climates, the honeycrisp apple tree has become a sought-after addition to orchards and home gardens alike. This tree is one of the most popular choices for cold-hardy apple trees.

To view purchasing options for Honeycrisp Apple Trees, click here!

Apples can successfully be grown in USDA zone 4. Honeycrisp apples are known for their cold hardiness.

Honeycrisp Apples

3. Sweetheart Blueberry Bush

The Sweetheart blueberry bush (Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Sweetheart’) is a delightful and productive deciduous shrub renowned for its delicious and flavorful berries. This compact and upright-growing blueberry bush typically reaches a height of 4 to 6 feet and features an attractive display of white or pink blossoms in the spring. This berry plant stands out for its large, sweet, and juicy fruit with a delightful balance of sweetness and mild acidity, making them perfect for fresh eating, baking, and preserving. 

The fruit ripens in mid to late July, and its abundant harvest makes it a favored choice for both home gardeners and commercial growers. With its pretty flowers, delicious berries, and easy-to-maintain nature, the Sweetheart blueberry bush is a popular addition to any garden or landscape, promising a fruitful and rewarding experience for all berry enthusiasts.

To view purchasing options for the Sweetheart Blueberry Bush, click here!

For organic purchasing options, click here!

Sweetheart blueberries have large berries and are very cold hardy.

Sweetheart Blueberry Bush

4. Everbearing Mulberry Tree

The everbearing mulberry tree (Morus spp.) is a versatile and attractive deciduous tree cherished for its continuous fruiting and ornamental appeal. This medium to large-sized tree typically reaches heights of 15 to 20 feet. The everbearing mulberry tree is named for its ability to produce fruit throughout an extended growing season, from spring through summer. The medium sized mulberries are deliciously sweet and can be enjoyed fresh off the tree, used in various culinary applications, or made into jams and desserts. 

Aside from its tasty fruit, the tree’s broad canopy provides excellent shade and make it a charming addition to gardens and landscapes. Additionally, the everbearing mulberry tree is relatively low-maintenance and adaptable to both cold and warmer climates. The mulberry tree is native to most of North America.

To view purchasing options for the Everbearing Mulberry Tree, click here!

Ripe berries hang from an everbearing mulberry tree which can successfully be grown in zone 4.

Everbearing Mulberry Tree

5. Anna Hardy Kiwi

The Anna hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta ‘Anna’) is a delightful and cold-hardy fruiting vine renowned for its sweet and flavorful kiwi fruits. This vigorous and deciduous vine can reach lengths of up to 20 feet or more and requires support to climb and thrive. The Anna hardy kiwi is recognized for its smaller, smooth-skinned kiwi fruits that are about the size of a grape, making them convenient for easy snacking without the need for peeling. 

The fruit’s green flesh is juicy and delectably sweet with hints of tropical flavors, and it is packed with vitamin C and other nutrients. One of the unique attributes of the Anna hardy kiwi is its self-fertility, meaning a single plant is capable of producing fruit without the need for cross-pollination from other kiwi varieties. With its ability to withstand colder temperatures than traditional kiwi plants, this fruit plant is a popular choice for New England and midwestern gardeners.

To view purchasing options for Anna Hardy Kiwi plants, click here!

Kiwi can be grown in colder climates with cold hardy varieties like the Anna Hardy Kiwi!

Anna Hardy Kiwi Plant

6. Keiffer Pear Tree

The Kieffer pear tree (Pyrus communis ‘Kieffer’) is a sturdy and productive deciduous fruit tree admired for its resilience and abundance of fruit. This medium size pear tree typically reaches heights of 15 to 30 feet and features an upright growth habit with dense foliage. The Kieffer pear is well-known for its large, yellow-green fruits that are similar to the bartlett pear, making it an excellent choice for canning, preserving, and baking. 

The fruit’s firm flesh holds up well during cooking, and its flavor becomes rich and sweet as it ripens. The Kieffer pear tree is a cold hardy variety, capable of withstanding various environmental conditions like drought and cold temperatures. With its delicious fruit and bountiful harvest, Kieffer pear trees are a top choice for those seeking a low-maintenance and fruitful addition to their fruit tree collection.

To view purchasing options for Kieffer Pear tree, click here!

The golden blush hue of a keiffer pear makes a wonderful addition to northern orchards in zone 4.

Keiffer Pear Tree

7. Chelan Cherry Tree

The Chelan cherry tree (Prunus avium ‘Chelan’) is a highly productive fruit tree, chosen for its exceptionally sweet cherries and early fruiting season. This medium to large-sized deciduous tree typically reaches heights of 20 to 30 feet, adorned with glossy green leaves and beautiful white blossoms in the spring. The Chelan cherry stands out for its dark red to almost black cherries, which are firm and sweet. Typically, sour cherry trees are known for their cold hardiness, which makes the Chelan cherry tree a sweet exception!

One of the remarkable features of this cherry tree is its ability to bear fruit earlier in the season, allowing enthusiasts to enjoy its delectable harvest from late spring to early summer. Due to its self-fertility and hardy performance, the Chelan cherry tree is a popular choice for home gardeners and orchard growers seeking a flavorful and rewarding addition to their cold weather orchards.

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

Chelan cherries are characterized by their dark color, sweet taste, and ability to thrive in colder climates.

Chelan Cherries

8. Reliance Peach Tree

The Reliance peach tree (Prunus persica ‘Reliance’) is a highly regarded and dependable fruit tree chosen for its delicious peaches and cold-hardy nature. This medium-sized deciduous tree typically grows to heights of 12 to 15 feet, adorned with attractive pink blossoms in the spring. The Reliance peach is well-known for its flavorful, juicy, and aromatic fruits that have a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, making them ideal for fresh eating, canning, and baking. 

One of the key attributes of this peach tree is its cold tolerance, allowing it to thrive in regions with cooler climates where other peach varieties may struggle. As a self-pollinating tree, the Reliance peach does not require cross-pollination from other peach trees, further simplifying its cultivation. With its dependable fruit production and ability to withstand colder temperatures, the Reliance peach tree is a popular choice for home gardeners seeking a rewarding and successful peach harvest.

To view purchasing options for Reliance Peach trees, click here!

Reliance peach trees are among the most cold hardy peaches that can thrive in zone 4, thriving from a large number of chill hours.

Reliance Peach Trees

9. Stevens Cranberry Bush

Stevens cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon ‘Stevens’) is a notable and widely cultivated variety of cranberry appreciated for its superior fruit quality and robust growth. This perennial plant forms low, creeping vines with small, leathery leaves and delicate pink flowers. Its leaves remain green all year, similar to evergreen trees. The Stevens cranberry stands out for its large, dark red berries that have a rich and tangy flavor.

One of the key features of this variety is its high fruit yield, making it a favored choice for commercial cranberry production. Additionally, the Stevens cranberry has excellent disease resistance and adaptability to various soil types, making it a preferred selection for home gardeners seeking a rewarding and reliable cranberry harvest year after year.

To view purchasing options for Stevens Cranberry bushes, click here!

To view organic purchasing options, click here!

Stevens Cranberry Bush

10. Bubblegum ‘Toka’ Plum Tree

The Bubblegum ‘Toka’ plum tree (Prunus ‘Toka’) is a delightful and unique fruit tree cherished for its sweet, flavorful Japanese plums. This medium-sized deciduous tree typically reaches heights of 15 to 20 feet, adorned with attractive pink and white flowers in early spring. These plum trees bear medium-sized, reddish-purple fruits with a distinct bubblegum-like flavor. These plums actually have a bubblegum taste and are suitable for making jams, preserves, and desserts as well as fresh eating.

Beyond its delicious fruit, the tree’s ornamental value and its cold-hardiness make it an excellent choice for northern home gardeners. This tree is an eye-catching and fruit-bearing addition to their landscape, providing a touch of whimsy and sweetness to their outdoor space.

To view purchasing options for the Bubblegum Plum tree, click here!

With a sweet, bubblegum taste, the bubblegum plum has beautiful pink skin and pretty flowers.

Bubbulegum Plum (aka Toka Plum)

11. Mormon Apricot Tree

The Mormon apricot tree (Prunus armeniaca ‘Mormon’) is a fruit tree known for its delicious apricots and its ability to thrive in cold climates. This medium-sized deciduous tree typically grows to heights of 15 to 20 feet, displaying attractive green leaves and beautiful pink and white blossoms in the spring. The Mormon apricot produces medium to large-sized fruits in late summer. Mormon apricots have a sweet and tangy flavor, making them perfect for fresh eating, canning, and baking. 

One of the remarkable features of this apricot variety is its cold-hardiness, allowing it to withstand frost and colder temperatures better than many other apricot trees. Due to its ability to grow and bear fruit in regions with short growing seasons, the Mormon apricot tree has become a favored choice for gardeners and orchard growers in colder climates, providing them with a reliable and flavorful harvest of apricots year after year.

To view purchasing options for Mormon Apricot trees, click here!

Mormon apricots are a cold hardy variety that can be grown in colder climates like zone 4.

Mormon Apricot Tree

12. Golden Raspberry Plant

The Golden Raspberry (Rubus idaeus ‘Golden’) is a captivating and delicious variation of the traditional red raspberry, prized for its unique golden-yellow color and delectable taste. This deciduous shrub typically grows to a height of 4 to 6 feet, with thorny canes and green foliage. The golden raspberry produces soft and juicy berries in early fall that are sweet with a subtle tang. Its vibrant and striking color adds a lovely touch to any fruit display or garden landscape. 

A versatile fruit, the golden raspberry is excellent for fresh eating, making jams, and adding a pop of color to various culinary creations. With its distinct appearance and delicious taste, the golden raspberry has become a sought-after choice for home gardeners and fruit enthusiasts seeking an exciting addition to their berry collection.

To view purchasing options for Golden Raspberry plants, click here!

To view organic purchasing options, click here!

Golden raspberries are a cold hardy berry variety that are known for their sweet and soft berry crop.

Golden Raspberry Plant

13. Baby Cakes Blackberry

Baby Cakes blackberry (Rubus ‘APF-236T’) is a compact fruiting shrub prized for its exceptional fruit production and small stature. This thornless deciduous blackberry typically grows to a manageable height of 3 to 4 feet, making it ideal for small gardens, patios, or containers. Baby cakes blackberries are known for their abundant fruit production and ability to withstand harsh winter temperatures.

The berries ripen in midsummer, with a glossy black color and excellent flavor that is perfect for fresh eating, desserts, and jams. Its thornless canes and compact growth habit make it easy to care for and harvest. With its ornamental appeal, ease of cultivation, and delectable fruits, Baby Cakes blackberry has become a popular choice for urban and space-limited gardeners seeking a rewarding addition to their berry patch.

To view purchasing options for Baby Cakes Blackberry plants, click here!

One of the most cold hardy blackberry varieties on the market is the Baby Cakes Blackberry that produces large and sweet fruit.

Baby Cakes Blackberry Plant

Tips For Growing Fruit In USDA Zone 4

Growing fruit in USDA Zone 4, which is characterized by cold winters and relatively short growing seasons, can be challenging but rewarding. Here are some tips to help you successfully grow fruit in this zone:

  1. Choose Cold-Hardy Varieties: Select fruit tree and plant varieties that are specifically bred to withstand colder temperatures and have shorter maturity periods. Look for fruit trees labeled as suitable for Zone 4 or even lower zones.
  2. Site Selection: Pick a sunny and sheltered location for your fruit plants. South-facing slopes or walls can help absorb and retain heat, providing some protection against freezing temperatures.
  3. Soil Preparation: Ensure well-draining soil to prevent waterlogged roots during the winter. Add organic matter like compost to improve soil structure and fertility.
  4. Mulch: Apply a thick layer of organic mulch around your fruit plants to help retain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and protect roots during cold spells.
  5. Frost Protection: Use frost cloth, row covers, or burlap to cover tender fruit plants during late spring frosts or early fall freezes. This protection can save blossoms and immature fruits from damage.
  6. Pruning: Properly prune your fruit trees and shrubs to improve air circulation, reduce disease pressure, and encourage vigorous growth. Pruning can also help maintain the desired shape and size for easier winter protection.
  7. Watering: Adequate watering is essential, especially during dry periods. Keep the soil consistently moist, but avoid overwatering to prevent waterlogged roots.
  8. Pest and Disease Management: Be vigilant in monitoring for pests and diseases, as certain insects and fungal diseases can be more prevalent in colder climates. Practice integrated pest management and remove any affected plant parts promptly.
  9. Wind Protection: If your garden is exposed to strong winds, consider installing windbreaks like fences or evergreen trees to protect your fruit plants from winter desiccation and damage.
  10. Consider Container Gardening: For some fruit plants, growing them in containers can be a viable option, allowing you to move them indoors or to a more sheltered location during extreme cold spells.

By following these tips and selecting the right fruit varieties, you can have a successful fruit garden even in the colder climate of USDA Zone 4. Remember that gardening in colder zones may require some experimentation and adaptation, so don’t be afraid to try new techniques and learn from your experiences.

How To Overwinter Fruit Trees And Shrubs

Overwintering fruit trees in USDA Zone 4 requires careful preparation and protection to ensure their survival during the cold winter months. Here are some essential steps to help you successfully overwinter fruit trees in Zone 4:

  1. Choose Cold-Hardy Varieties: Select fruit tree varieties that are well-suited for Zone 4. Look for cultivars specifically bred for colder climates, as they have better chances of withstanding harsh winter conditions.
  2. Mulch: Apply a thick layer of organic mulch around the base of the fruit tree (about 3 to 4 inches). This will help insulate the roots, regulate soil temperature, and conserve moisture during winter.
  3. Watering: Keep the trees well-hydrated throughout the fall to ensure they enter winter in good condition. However, reduce watering as the temperature drops to avoid waterlogged soil.
  4. Fertilization: Avoid fertilizing fruit trees in late summer or fall, as new growth can be susceptible to winter damage. It’s better to fertilize in early spring when the tree starts actively growing.
  5. Pruning: Avoid heavy pruning in the fall, as this can stimulate new growth that might be sensitive to winter temperatures. Instead, conduct major pruning during the dormant season in late winter or early spring.
  6. Protect Trunk: Use tree guards or wraps to protect the lower trunk from rodents and animals that may chew on the bark during winter.
  7. Winterizing Wraps: Wrap the lower portion of the tree with burlap or commercial tree wraps to protect against winter sunscald and frost cracks. These wraps will also help prevent fluctuating temperatures that can damage the bark.
  8. Windbreaks: If possible, create windbreaks to shield fruit trees from strong winter winds. Fences or evergreen trees can be effective in reducing wind exposure.
  9. Snow Accumulation: After heavy snowfalls, gently remove snow from the branches to prevent damage from the weight of the snow.
  10. Container Plants: If you have potted fruit trees, consider moving them to a more protected location, such as an unheated garage or shed, to shield them from extreme temperatures and drying winds.
  11. Monitor and Inspect: Regularly inspect your fruit trees during the winter months for signs of damage or stress. If you notice any issues, take appropriate action promptly.

Remember that each fruit tree species and variety may have specific overwintering requirements, so it’s essential to research and follow the care guidelines specific to your trees. Additionally, be prepared for some trial and error, as each winter can vary in severity, and it may take time to find the best overwintering practices for your specific location and fruit tree types.

Shop For More Cold-Hardy Trees And Shrubs

If you live in USDA growing zone 4 or lower, it is essential you choose trees and shrubs that can survive the average low temperature in your region. Choosing cold-hardy varieties of fruit trees, decorative trees, and flowering perennials is the key to having a low-maintenance and thriving landscape. For more recommendations on cold-hardy trees and shrubs, check out these related articles:

Tart cherries hanging from a tree in Traverse City, Michigan.

Cherries by D.H. Wright