Issue: July 8, 2000

  • How long to produce fruit on tree grown from seed
  • Raywood Ash tree form

How long to produce fruit on tree grown from seed


I started my plants from a seed, but they have not produced fruit. Some one told me you have to graft them. If this is true how do you do that and what time of year and how big does the plant have to be?


The advice you received is not totally correct. Plants grown from seed will usually bear fruit However, there are some factors to consider depending on the type of plants you are growing. While annual plants will produce fruit the first year from seeds, some fruit trees may not bear fruit for 5 to 15 years after the seed has been planted. Since you spoke of grafting I assume it is fruit trees that you are asking about. Juvenility factors may also delay blossom production in flowering perennials such as amaryllis, lilies, and other such plants.

After a seed germinates some of our fruit trees will first be in a "juvenile" state which is not capable of flowering and bearing fruit, this period of juvenility may last many years. Grafting is a way to circumvent the juvenility phase of the plant. A two year old fruit tree may be grafted and begin bearing fruit two to three years later. To do this it is necessary to graft onto the seedling tree, a scion from a mature fruit bearing tree.

Another factor to consider is that most of our fruit trees are heterozygous, that is the genetics in the new plant grown from seed are genes derived from both the "mother" and "father" trees. Such genetics are very complicated and the offspring may bear good or bad fruit. That means that the fruit may be sweet or bitter, large or small. It is interesting to see what develops, but it will most likely not be like the fruit from which the seed were taken. In rare cases, it may be better, but more often it will be worse. Grafting overcomes this problem because the fruit produced by the branch grafted onto the seedling will be exactly like the fruit on the tree from which the branch was taken.

There are many good books on grafting available in libraries if you would like to try grafting. Grafting is a skill that must be developed. Success is not often achieved with the first attempt. Practice is essential.

Top of Page

Raywood Ash tree form


We have a Raywood ash tree that is in its fourth year in our yard. The tree is not branching out only up. It looks almost like a Lombardy poplar. How can we get it to start branching out? Is this normal for this tree? We wanted a shade tree, but this is not working out.


The Raywood ash is a beautiful tree which may develop a bright burgundy color in the fall. However, as you described, it has a naturally upright form and does not spread as widely as other familiar ash shade trees. It does get wider than a Lombardy poplar, but never develops a broad crown. Expect it to develop a spread of 15 feet or so in a few years, but by then it will be much taller than wide. If you like this tree for its fall color (and form) try planting several in a cluster to create a larger shaded area. Do not place them too close to each other, but separate them by three or more feet.

You may also choose plant another type of tree for a broader crown and more shade. Be aware that there are several insects which damage some species of ash trees. These insects are currently doing damage to trees in some parts of New Mexico.

You might want to consider something other than an ash tree if you plant another tree. Your local Cooperative Extension Service Agent or local nursery should be able to help you select an appropriate tree for your soil and location. Ann Las Cruces

Top of Page

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!