A Guide to Plant Fruit Trees
Fruit trees in the garden are not only aesthetically appealing but also great fun to have. Knowing how to plant fruit trees will help you to become the expert gardener you always wanted to be. Planting fruit trees is significantly different than planting evergreen or non-fruit trees. However, it is not difficult if you have the correct knowledge and skills.
When to plant Fruit Trees?
In the northern parts of the United States, you can plant fruit trees once the ground thaws in spring. Plant the tree once the ground dries up. Planting in the spring helps prevent trees from struggling to grow in low temperatures of the winter. It is recommended to plant bare-root fruit trees in mid to late spring for best results. To do it, you will need to dig the shovel deep into the soil and pull it out. If the soil comes out in clumps and sticks to the shovel, then wait for the soil to drain and get completely dry before planting fruit trees.
In the southern states, the best time to plant fruit trees is the early winter period. This way, you help the tree to establish its root system before the end of their dormancy. The thumb rule is to plant the tree while it is still in its dormant state.
How to choose the best Fruit Tree?
There are mainly two classifications of fruit trees – bare-root and container-grown. Each has its own advantage and drawbacks that you should consider to determine the best-suited fruit tree for your lawn or garden.
Bare-root fruit trees are more affordable in comparison and offer a large variety of types of fruits. You can simply purchase bare-root fruit trees in late winter and prepare to plant them as early as possible in spring. However, bare-root fruit trees are not as convenient because they need to be planted before their come out of their dormancy and begin growing for the season.
Container-grown fruit trees are significantly more expensive in comparison and also have limited varieties to choose from. These are usually available during the spring so the trees can establish their roots before the hottest part of summer begins. These types of fruit trees are usually root-bound at the time of purchase. It can be a task to ameliorate the specimen before planting. Container-grown fruit trees are more likely to develop root girdling, around 10 years after planting.
When buying bare-root fruit trees, you should check for specimens that have healthy roots and no major breakage. If you are buying container-grown fruit trees, then check for good leaf color, no damage to the bark or signs of disease.
How to prepare the site for Planting Fruit Trees?
These are the ideal characteristics to determine the best site for planting fruit trees:
- Well-drained soil
- Full sun spot
- Soil pH = 6.0 to 7.5
- Protection from strong winds
It is recommended to dig a hole just before planting to avoid sidewall glazing, and prevent the hole from filling with water. Make sure the size and shape of the hole can fit the roots. You should avoid having to force the roots to fit the hole.
Use a shovel with a pointed center and dig a hole which is slightly bigger than the root system of the specimen fruit tree. Overall, you should dig a hole that is at least 2 to 3 times as wide as the tree’s root system and around 2 to 3 inches deeper. This is essential to plant container-grown and bare-root fruit trees.
If you have sandy soil or soil with significant clay quantity, you should dig an area much larger than the required hole. You can fill the hole partly with a mix or finished compost or rotter manure. Avoid adding fertilizer to the hole, as this allows the roots to stay in the nutrient-rich area, instead of branching out into the surrounding soil for nutrition.
How to Plant Fruit Trees?
It is highly recommended for first-timers to consult with expert gardeners, such as Eden before deciding to plant fruit trees. However, if you have previous experience, you can do this on your own.
Now that you know the basics of fruit trees, it is time to check out the kind of supplies you will need to plant fruit trees as a DIY project:
- Tree support and tree ties
- Fencing (if you have rabbits of deer in the area)
With bare-root fruit trees, you will need to soak the roots in a bucket of water and place it in a shaded area for around 1 to 2 hours before planting. Make sure to clip off any damaged or broken roots. For container-grown fruit tree, you will need to remove it carefully from the pot. Try to shake out as much of the growing media as possible, and splay the roots out as wide as possible.
Now, you can follow this step-wise method to plant fruit trees successfully:
1. Soften the sidewalls of the hole
You can soften the sidewalls of the hole using a spade or shovel. This needs to be done so the roots can easily penetrate the surrounding soil as the tree begins growing.
2. Remove labels, if any
Make sure to remove any label or stickers from the plant to prevent trunk girdling as the plant grows.
3. Put the tree in the hole at the correct depth
It is critical to plant a fruit tree to the right depth. Most people end up planting their fruit trees too deep, which hinders their growth severely.
You can seek help from a friend to hold the tree at the appropriate height before you begin to fill the hole. This way, you can put soil underneath the tree roots until it can stand unassisted in the hole. Once the tree can stand on its own, you will need to spread the roots evenly and then begin filling the hole completely.
4. Fill in the hole
You can gently stamp the soil with your foot as you fill the hole. This way, you can prevent air pockets from forming and also compact the soil around the tree effectively. As you reach the top of the hole, make sure to create a slight depression to allow water to seep naturally around the tree. Do not mound the soil around the trunk as it will prevent the tree roots from receiving adequate quantities of water.
5. Put a support
Newly-planted fruit trees may need staking for the first 2 to 4 years, right until the trunk is strong enough to support the weight of the tree itself. It is essential to provide a support to a newly-planted fruit tree if the tree is planted at a site with strong winds.
You can use a hammer to drive in the tree support at the edge of the hole. Try to avoid staking through the root system as much as possible. Make sure the support stake is either perpendicular to the ground or angled slightly away from the tree trunk.
Once you have successfully planted the fruit tree, you can pour around 2 to 5 gallons of water slowly. You may need to firm it down, or add more soil after watering. You can also add mulch around the base to ensure optimal growth and also take precautions to prevent deer and rabbit from harming the plant.
Planting fruit trees is incredibly easy when you know what you are doing. If you have any doubts or are worried that planting a fruit tree is not your cup of tea, then it is highly recommended to contact expert gardeners, such as Eden and seek professional help.