NC State Extension Publications


The fruits listed below thrive with little maintenance in North Carolina and have few pest and disease problems. Prior to planting, remove weeds, and add organic matter to improve water movement. Use the soil and nutrients recommended by soil test results. After planting, remove all flower buds and water well. Cover the planting area with a 3- to 5-inch-deep layer of mulch. Be sure to keep mulch at least 3 inches away from the base of the plant. The links below provide detailed information.

Ground Cover

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Select: June-bearing cultivars such as ‘Galletta’, ‘Chandler’, and ‘Jewell’.

Plant: Between October and March, plant in full sun or light shade. Space 1.5 to 2 feet apart.

Manage: One month after planting, and again in late August, add the equivalent of 2 teaspoons of fertilizer with 16 percent nitrogen to each plant. Apply 4 inches from the crown. Manage weeds by keeping plants mulched, hoeing, and pulling by hand. Protect blossoms from late frost by covering them with a floating row cover or cloth blanket to hold the heat in overnight.

Harvest: Begins late April through May. Beginning 30 days after bloom, harvest fully red berries in the morning, every other day. Each plant may produce up to a quart of berries.

Life Expectancy: One year. Each year after harvest, remove existing plants and grow new plants in a different location to prevent the buildup of diseases and pests in the soil.

Strawberry flowers and fruit.

Strawberry flowers and fruit

oli2020, Pixabay  CC0

A strawberry growing in a container.

Strawberry grown in a container

switthoff, Flickr  CC BY 2.0


Select: ‘Freedom’ is an everbearing, thornless, erect cultivar that does not require a trellis. It fruits on new shoots (primocane) so it can be cut to the ground each fall, making it much easier to manage than other types of blackberries.

Plant: In spring, plant in full sun to light shade 6 feet apart.

Manage: Pruning — In the spring, once the canes are 36 inches high, cut 3 inches off the tip to cause them to branch.

In the late winter, if you are growing ‘Freedom’, remove all canes. If you are growing another cultivar, remove all dead canes and all but the six most vigorous live canes. Prune lateral branches to 1.5 feet in length. Remove all suckers more than 1 foot from the base of the plant.

Fertilizing — Apply 0.5 ounce of nitrogen per bush per year. Apply half in spring and half in summer, just after harvest. Spread the fertilizer in a 12-inch radius around the base of the plant.

Harvest: Early summer when the berry turns dull black. Average yield is 4 pounds per plant.

Life Expectancy: Eight years.


Harvest: Include more than one cultivar for cross-pollination. Extend your harvest by selecting two early, two mid-, and two late-ripening cultivars. In the mountains, select Highbush varieties (‘Duke’, ‘Sunrise’, ‘Echota’, ‘Blueray’, ‘Elliott’, and ‘Aurora’). In the piedmont, choose Rabbiteye varieties (‘Climax’, ‘Premier’, ‘Ira’, ‘Tifblue’, and ‘Powderblue’). In the coastal plains, choose Highbush and Southern Highbush (‘O’Neal’, ‘Duke’, and ‘Legacy’).

Plant: Full sun in soil with pH less than 5.0. Do not try to grow in soil with pH over 6.0. Blueberries do best in soils that are high in organic matter with good drainage. Do not plant in heavy clay soil. Install 6 feet apart. Prune the plant to remove all but the three or four strongest shoots.

Manage: Protection from birds may be necessary. Prune in winter, and remove 1/3 of the plant each winter based on these priorities:

  • At the ground level, remove all stems more than 15 inches from the base of the plant.
  • At the point of attachment, remove all dead stems, all stems crossing back to the middle, and all low horizontal stems.
  • Remove up to three older stems from the middle.
  • Remove leggy, repeatedly branched stems.

Harvest: Two months after bloom. Allow fruit to fully ripen before picking (three to six days after turning blue). The average yield for a mature bush is 1 to 2 pounds per year.

Life Expectancy: Twenty-five years.

Ripened (black) and pre-ripened (red) blackberries on a blackberry bush

Blackberries taste best when then turn dull black

Snowcat, Flickr  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Michele Dorsey Walfred CC BY 2.0 flickr

Clusters of blueberries ripen over time.

Michele Dorsey Walfred, Flickr  CC BY 2.0


Select: ‘Celeste’, ‘Brown Turkey’, and ‘Marseille’. Select more than one cultivar to extend the harvest.

Plant: Plant in full sun, 10 feet apart. Install in late fall or early winter. Dig a hole twice as wide and only as deep as the root system. Place the root system in the center of the hole. Fill the hole with native, unamended soil, water well, and cover the entire planting area with a 3- to 5-inch-deep layer of mulch, keeping the mulch 3 to 5 inches from the trunk of the tree.

Manage: After harvest, prune to manage plant size.

Harvest: June to August, when the fruit turns color (varies with cultivar). Remove figs with the stems attached. Picked fruit lasts only a few days. Fig trees produce two harvests each year.

Paw Paws

Select: ‘Allegheny’, ‘NC-1’, ‘Overleese’, ‘Potomac’, ‘Shenandoah’, ‘Sunflower’, ‘Susquehanna’, and ‘Wabash’. Include more than one cultivar for cross-pollination.

Plant: In the late fall or early winter, plant in full sun. Dig a hole twice as wide and only as deep as the root system. Place the root system in the center of the hole. Fill the hole with native, unamended soil, water well, and cover the entire planting area with a 3- to 5-inch-deep layer of mulch, keeping the mulch 3 to 5 inches from the trunk of the tree.

Manage: In late winter, remove dead, damaged, and crossing branches.

Harvest: August to September, when fruit begins to soften and has a fruity, floral aroma. Fruit will continue to ripen after being picked.

Harvest Calendar for the Piedmont
(Coastal plain generally two weeks earlier, mountains generally two weeks later)

Plant Type Plant Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Ground Covers Strawberries X X X X
Bushes Blackberry X X X X X X
Blueberry X X X X
Trees Fig X X X X X X
Pawpaw X X X X
A ripe fig on the tree.

Figs are a deciduous small tree that can be espalier against a wall or fence for easy harvesting.

Doug McAbee  CC BY-NC 2.0

A small cluster of paw paws on the tree.

Paw paws are a small, deciduous small tree native to NC. The edible, sweet-tasting, custard-like fruit is 2.5 to 6 inches long.

Wendell Smith, Flickr  CC BY 2.0

Fun With Fruits

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Skip to Acknowledgments

Funding for this publication was provided in part by the John Rex Endowment.

The authors would like to thank Melissa Bell, Research Associate, Center for Environmental Farming Systems Field Research, Education and Outreach Liaison, NC State University, for their management of the review process.

This publication was developed in partnership with the Natural Learning Initiative in the College of Design at North Carolina State University.

NC State Design Natural Learning Initiative logo

Center for Environmental Farming Systems logo


Design Research Associate
Natural Learning Initiative
Consumer and Community Horticulture Professor and Extension Specialist
Horticultural Science

Find more information at the following NC State Extension websites:

Publication date: July 24, 2023

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