So you’ve decided to plant a fruit tree but you want to make sure you get the most out of it? You’ve come to the right place.
Planting a fruit tree is a commitment. Depending on the age and size of your fruit tree, it may take several years until it produces fruit. This fruit tree will provide fruit, oxygen, and habitat for decades. It may even feed your grandchildren.
The most important thing is that you’ve decided to plant a fruit tree. That’s awesome! Now you’ve got some work to do in the first few years to give it the best chance of success.
Here are our top five tips for planting fruit trees:
- Dig a great hole. You don’t want a 10 cent hole for a 10 dollar tree. Make sure the roots have plenty of space and don’t dig too deep.
- Mulch. Especially mulch that’s a year old. Natural mulch is much preferred - think woodchips with some leaves in there. Make a doughnut around the tree and make sure the base of the tree isn’t touching the mulch. It should look like it’s funneling water down to the base but not covering it up. Add more every winter for best results.
- Pruning. This is an often overlooked aspect of growing a fruit tree, but it’s really important to prune your tree. For starters, it will encourage it to grow more fruit. Second, pruning helps the fruit stay lower to the ground so you can actually reach it. Especially if this tree is at your house, you’ll want to make sure it’s pruned.
- Water. It’s the most obvious, but it needs to be said. If your fruit tree isn’t getting enough water it isn’t going to produce as much fruit. The rain is often your friend here, but if the tree doesn’t get rain for about a week or so -- especially during the summer -- you’ll want to make sure it gets a couple of gallons. Oh, and be sure to give it plenty of water when you first plant it. That helps the roots overcome the shock of being transplanted.
- Plant in late fall or early winter. Giving the tree a chance to over winter means the tree will immediately start growing when the spring hits. This will also help speed up your time frame for getting fruit from the tree.
If you follow these five steps and stay on top of watering, mulching and pruning for five years after planting that tree, you’re setting it up for success. The good news is that after you dig the hole, the heavy lifting is pretty much over. From there, consistent watering, adding a few wood chips or leaves every fall, a cut here and a trim there, and you’re well on your way to enjoying fresh fruit for the next several decades.
Need some more tips? Check out this video from fruit tree expert and drummer Robby Astrove: