Figs in a bowl

Exotic fruit look as great as they taste!
Image source: Ekaterina Kondratova / Shutterstock

Think you can’t grow exotic fruit in the UK? Think again! Many people assume you need a heated greenhouse – but there are plenty of exotic fruit trees that will grow outdoors in our temperate climate. Bring a taste of the tropics to your garden with these easy-to-grow fruit trees. They’re self-fertile, hardy – and produce delicious fruits that can be harvested from September.

1: Pomegranate

Red pomegranates growing on a tree

Pomegranates are surprisingly hardy
Image source: grafnata / Shutterstock

Often associated with much warmer climates, pomegranates are surprisingly hardy in the UK, with some varieties able to tolerate temperatures down to -15C (5F) when grown in a sunny, sheltered position. The vibrant orange flowers last all summer, and the fruits ripen through mild autumns – ready for harvest by October and November. Enjoy the sweet-sharp fleshy fruits in desserts and savoury dishes or use the pomegranate seeds to make a fragrant juice. They’re also delicious sprinkled over a salad.

2: Fig

Fig 'Little Miss Figgy' from Thompson & Morgan

Figs can be grown on patios or courtyards
Image source: Fig ‘Little Miss Figgy’ from Thompson & Morgan

With their attractive lobed foliage, figs make a dramatic feature when fan trained against a sunny wall or grown in a container on the patio. Fig ‘Brown Turkey’ is perfect for the UK climate and produces large crops of sweet, juicy figs. Fruits develop in spring and ripen from August to September. A second crop often develops in late summer and, if protected, these fruits will ripen during the following summer.

Small garden? Why not try ‘Little Miss Figgy’ – a dwarf variety that’s perfect for growing as a specimen plant in a patio container. Restricting the root growth of fig trees encourages them to fruit, making them ideal for container growing.

3: Sharon Fruit

Sharon fruit covered in snow

Sharon fruits continue to ripen well into December
Image source: Atabek Akhmadaliev / Shutterstock

The Sharon Fruit is also known as Kaki or Persimmon. Originating from China, and totally hardy in the UK, the summer flowers give way to round, orange-yellow fruits with a unique, sugary flavour and make a lovely addition to fresh fruit salads. They continue to ripen on the branches even after the leaves have fallen! This small tree makes an attractive feature in a sheltered border, or trained against a sunny wall.

4: Orange

Small orange tree

Dwarf ‘Clamondin’ orange trees are perfect for patios.
Image source: nnattalli / Shutterstock 

Bring a taste of the Mediterranean to your patio with an orange tree! Citrus trees thrive outdoors in summer and enjoy a heated greenhouse or conservatory in winter. The small, juicy fruits of orange ‘Calamondin’ have a sharp taste at first before leaving a delicious sweet flavour in your mouth. This decorative, scented and productive plant is perfect for your patio or conservatory.

5: Lemon

Lemon tree from Thompson & Morgan

Imagine being able to pick a lemon to slice into a gin and tonic!
Image source: T&M

Lemon and lime trees can survive brief periods below zero degrees Celsius, but are best grown in large containers and moved indoors to a bright frost free position from autumn to spring. Lemon ‘Eureka’ is an excellent variety to grow in the UK, producing large, thick skinned lemons as good as those bought from a supermarket. Lemons can be harvested as they ripen and, once picked, will keep for up to two weeks.

6: Lime

Tahiti Lime from Thompson & Morgan

The Tahiti Lime produces bright green, zesty fruits throughout the year
Image source: T&M

Prefer lime in your drink? The Tahiti lime makes a stunning patio feature. Set against glossy, dark foliage, the delicate clusters of white flowers fill the air with their delicious fragrance from April to June. The fruits that follow may take up to a year to ripen but are well worth the wait. This productive tree produces seedless limes which, if left on the tree, will eventually turn yellow.

7: Apricot

Apricots growing on a tree

Home grown apricots are delicious, packed with juice and flavour.
Image source: Rostislav_Sedlacek / Shutterstock

Your own apricots taste better than anything bought in a shop. They can be grown as fans, bushes or pyramid trees – there are even dwarf varieties for a pot on the patio. Apricot ‘Flavourcot’® is a variety specially bred for the cooler UK climate, to produce huge crops of large egg sized, delicious orange-red fruits. Being late flowering, it’s also frost resistant, so you’ll always get a crop. This variety is ideal for cooking, and sweet and juicy when eaten fresh from the tree in August.

8: Banana (Musa Basjoo)

Musa basjoo by Thompson & Morgan

Small, edible fruits develop behind the flowers of this banana palm.
Image source: T&M

Musa basjoo, also known as Japanese banana palm, is the perfect addition to a tropical planting scheme – and grows to 5m (16’) tall! Once mature, it produces a display of white flowers. During hot summers, these may develop into small, edible green fruits. This is a tender palm, suitable for growing in borders in milder parts of the UK – though it will need to be protected in winter.

As with most fruit trees, you may have to have to wait a year or so before your first harvest – so the sooner you get started the better! But it’s well worth the wait. Save on the food miles, host an unforgettable dinner party – or just enjoy a home-grown slice in your G&T. 

What exotic fruit trees have you grown? Let us know over on our Facebook page!

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