Fruit Trees: The Guide to Growing Success
Some of the most rewarding plants in any garden are the fruit trees. Sweet-smelling blossoms in the spring give way to luscious fruits in the summer and fall. Just imagine the bounties of plump figs and juicy apples you can pick straight off the branch!
In this article, we provide an brief overview to get you started with your fruit garden. For a deeper dive, check out the free Fruit Tree 101 Course on our sister site! You'll get detailed, expert info on:
Prefer to start simple? Keep reading below!
Homegrown Fruit's for Everyone
The health benefits of eating fresh fruit daily are too numerous to count. Plus, you'll save money by forgoing the expensive fruit aisles in favor of plucking it from your own backyard.
And guess what: even if you have a smaller (or non-existent) yard, there are plenty of dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees that in pots or in the ground, regardless of garden space.
Why Two (or More) Is Better Than One
If you do have the room, consider getting several fruit trees of the same species for better pollination. While many fruit trees can self-pollinate, your harvests will be larger if you plant several varieties. For example, a Granny Smith Apple Tree produces more fruit if a McIntosh Apple Tree is planted nearby.
Planting Fruit Trees
Cold-hardy fruit trees can be planted in the spring or fall. It’s best to plant the tree as soon as it gets to your home, so it can acclimate faster to its new surroundings. When planting, try to choose a day that is cool and overcast, as hot, sunny days make it harder for plants to get established.
Dig a hole that is twice as deep and wide as the root ball. Add several shovelfuls of organic compost into the hole, and then, place your tree. Shovel the dirt back around the tree and pack it lightly. Water thoroughly, and then pack the soil down again.
Add a layer of mulch around the base to stifle pesky weeds and to keep the soil at an even temperature. Just be sure to keep the mulch 3 inches away from the trunk of the tree, as mulch touching the trunk can increase your chances of disease and fungal issues. You may even want to place a small barrier (like chicken wire) around the tree to protect it from curious critters like deer or mice.
The Waiting Game
Now is the time to practice the fine art of patience. Wait for the tree to establish for at least a month before adding a well-balanced organic fertilizer (like a 5-5-5 granular or fish emulsion). If you plant in the spring, feed the tree one more time in the fall.
Don’t expect a bounty of fruits in the first year. Most trees will bear fruit in the second or third year, unless you have planted a mature size. If you see blossoms on the tree in the first year, don’t jump for joy just yet. You'll need to pinch the flowers off so your tree can develop a strong root system in the first growing season. Removing flowers in the first year allows all energy to be directed into the roots and shoots of the tree.
Fruit Tree Maintenance
Nature will come calling as your tree matures. Expect droves of butterflies and bees to congregate as blooms appear. However, pests of a nefarious nature may also try to suck your tree of its precious nutrients. At any sign of infestation, spray your fruit trees with an organic pesticide, like Neem Oil or Liquid Copper Fungicide.
Make sure to prune your tree each year during its dormancy period. Cut away any dead or diseased branches. The best practice for pruning is to cut away one branch from every fork and space each horizontal branch at least 5 inches apart. This helps increase airflow, and allows sunlight to reach even the inner branches of your fruit tree. Your tree will love the haircut, and it will reward you with delectable fruits!
What are you waiting for? Choose from our extensive array of fruit trees, and get planting. With a little love and care, you'll be harvesting tasty fruits in no time!