Caring For Your Fruit Tree
- Fruit trees love direct sun. Plant in a location where it will receive as much light as possible.
- Choose a spot that has well-drained, fertile soil for the best canopy and root growth.
- Dig a hole roughly two times the width of your tree root ball and deep enough to cover it completely. Ideally, the graft sits about 4-6 inches above ground level.
- Place organic matter (peat, potting mix, compost, etc.) into the hole before filling.
- Once planted, water the tree slowly, ensuring the soil around the root area is thoroughly wet.
- If planting dwarfing rootstocks (B9 or M26), they need support. Be sure to provide a sturdy stake or trellis system to support them as they grow.
- Check the soil around the base of the tree for moisture level. Check often, as young trees can dry out quickly. If in doubt, give water.
- The amount of water your tree needs will vary significantly depending on the location, climate and soil composition. Generally, water should be provided from April until mid-October. Young trees require more water to help them establish their root structure.
- Prune when the tree is dormant. The flat branches are the best for fruit bearing. Leave the central leader until it reaches the height appropriate for its rootstock. Choose branches that come off of the central leader as flat as possible. In some cases adding weights or a prop to help train the branches can make quite a difference. As your tree begins to bear fruit, you will have to consider enabling openings in the canopy for shafts of light to penetrate deep into the tree's center.
- Fertilizer is usually provided while the tree is still dormant in the early spring. Place your composted material or fertilizer around the base of your tree, where it will filter down to the roots. The amount provided to your tree will vary depending on fertilizer source. Warning check that the plant food you are using is suitable for your fruit tree. You can over-fertilize young trees with large nutrient spikes.
- If your apple tree is less than 4-5 years old, depending on the rootstock, it is advised to remove most or all fruit blossoms as they are still establishing themselves. However, once the tree is ready for fruit-bearing, eating apples should be thinned with at least 6 to 8 inches of space between each apple. Check your varietal, as some naturally grow larger apples and may need to be left a little heavier.
- Your tree will wake up as the days begin to lengthen and warm.
- Now is the time to feed your tree.
- Depending on your climate, you may need to begin watering.
- Water in the tree one last time before the winter and freezing temperatures
- arrive. Through watering at this time will help protect the tree's roots from freezing damage in colder climates.
- Any time after the tree has gone dormant, pruning can begin.