What Does Fruiting Habit Mean?
Fruiting habit is a term used to describe the way in which fruit forms and grows on woody plants, such as trees and some vegetable plants, like green beans.
The term bearing habit can be used interchangeably with fruiting habit.
Flowering habit is a related, but not interchangeable term.
Maximum Yield Explains Fruiting Habit
Most of the plants we have cultivated over human history were grown because they produced fruit of some sort that we valued as food. Apples, pears, citrus fruits, grapes, green beans – all of these plants were selected and developed because they flowered, and then bore fruit, which we then consumed.
The fruiting habit of woody plants (also called the bearing habit) is really nothing more than the general location and type of flower buds on the plant that will develop into fruit. For instance, cherries have a spur fruiting habit, which means that rather than growing directly on the main stem, a spur grows and then bears the fruit (two fruits per spur in the case of cherries). Plums, on the other hand, have a shoot fruiting habit, which means the flower bud develops directly on the branch, and the fruit will from there as well, usually laterally along the length of the branch.
Other woody plants have a shoot fruiting habit, but the flowers (and eventual fruit) only develop at the extreme end of the shoot (branch), as opposed to laterally along the branch, as we saw with plums.
Understanding the fruiting habit of woody plants can provide gardeners with access to important information, including the health of the plant, whether fruit will develop from blooms (based on the existence of nearby leaves or surrounding plant tissue for the delivery of supplemental carbohydrates during fruit maturation) and more.