It’s vital to know how to plant fruit trees the right way, to ensure a healthy plant that yields a good crop.
Fruit trees are one of the best garden ideas to include as they bring so much joy. From the crunchiest apples to the juiciest plums, nothing tastes as sweet as fruit you have grown yourself, and it will be much fresher than store-bought produce.
However, when planning a kitchen garden, it’s important to only select the best fruit trees that will grow well in your location and climate.
Start by asking your local county extension specialists, who often have the most knowledge about which varieties thrive in your area. They will also be able to advise on whether you require two different varieties to cross-pollinate and bear fruit.’
In addition, you can check the plant hardiness zone map to find out which fruit trees are compatible for your specific location.
Make sure you obtain quality plant stock from a reputable nursery. Oftentimes the trees are bare-root specimens, which means there is no soil or containers around the roots, and they are usually less expensive.
Learning how to plant fruit trees isn’t that much different from knowing how to plant a tree of any other type. But you need to get the process right to ensure the tree will survive and flourish, and produce as much fruit as possible.
Bear in mind some fruit trees have their own specific requirements – there may be small differences between how to plant an apple tree versus another type of fruit, so do check the instructions supplied with your tree.
Dig over the soil in your chosen location and remove any big stones. ‘Avoid amending the soil too much, as you want the tree to grow and thrive in the existing soil rather than add in a lot of nutrient-rich soil.
Using the pot as a size guide, dig a hole for your tree. ‘When digging a hole for your fruit trees, dig a saucer rather than a cylinder,. The bottom of the saucer should be only as deep as the soil root ball, and the diameter of the saucer should be at least 3-5 feet wide, sloping gently from soil surface to base.
Remove the tree from the container. Scour the sides of the root wad 1-2 inches deep with the side of your shovel. You can further encourage this with your fingers, as the goal is to loosen that outer layer of the soil wad.
Place the tree in your prepared hole. Follow the planting instructions to be sure to plant the sapling at the correct depth in the planting hole. You must never bury the graft union, which can be identified as a raised bulge that must be above the soil when planted.
Position the graft to the north, if it is a single graft. If planting multi-graft trees position the smallest graft or scion to the south.
Fill the dirt derived from digging the hole back in around the trunk of the tree and stomp the soil well while keeping the tree straight to compact it.
It’s important to stake your tree when planting, to protect it from wind damage. There are several ways to do this, but the most common method is to insert a stake before filling the hole with soil. The stake should come up a third of the tree’s height.
If training your fruit tree as an espalier or cordon, put your trellis in place now. There are many beautiful vegetable garden trellis ideas available.
Give your tree a good watering, and then water regularly until it is established.
The best place to plant your fruit trees will depend on the light and sheltering requirements of the specific variety. However, most fruit trees prefer full sun. Fruit trees should get at least eight hours of direct sun per day.
In general, the best site for fruit trees is a sunny, sheltered spot with well-drained neutral to slightly acidic soil; they are not well suited to extremely alkaline soils.
You should also consider how your fruit tree’s position might affect garden maintenance. Decide on a planting location where the trees can grow and bear fruit without causing a mess near your home landscape.
The best time to plant fruit trees is when they are dormant in winter.
Bare root trees should be planted from November to early spring, while container-grown plants can be planted any time of year – but it is best done in winter.
Winter is also the most cost-effective time to plant trees. ‘You can pick up wintertime bare-root fruit trees for less than half the price of springtime pot-grown ones.
A lemon tree in a terracotta pot demonstrating the best trees for a small garden.
Dwarf fruit trees are some of the best trees to grow in pots and are fantastic small garden ideas as they can be positioned on the patio or even a balcony.
Size really matters when it comes to container-grown fruit trees.
Buy the largest container you can afford and plant your bare-root tree in winter using lots of organic mulch and a few handfuls of garden soil to introduce healthy bacteria and earthworms. – Homesandgardens.com