How to Plant a Fruit Tree
- Location/ Time of Year: Check with your local Nursery or Garden Center for the best location to plant your specific kind of fruit tree (i.e. full sun, partial shade, well drained soil, sandy soil, etc.). Plan this carefully your tree will be there a long time. The best time of the year to plant or transplant a fruit tree is late Fall/ early Winter or early Spring.
- Soaking: When you receive a fruit tree via mail order or from a nursery it will sometimes be a bare-root tree. I will tell you how to plant a bare root tree and a potted tree. The ones we bought were bare-root and my pictures reflect that. For bare-root trees, when you receive them, you will need to soak them in a bucket of water for 12-24 hours before planting. This allows the tree to soak up a maximum quantity of water to give it a good start. Potted fruit trees do not need to be soaked.
- Pruning the Roots: Using a pair of pruning shears, cut off any broken or damaged roots and shorten any extra long roots. You never want to bend the roots to fit them in the hole. Potted trees need to be taken out of their pots and have their roots loosened on the sides and bottom (not so much that you knock off a lot of the dirt) and trimmed before planting.
- Digging the Hole: Using a digging shovel, dig a hole at least as wide as the roots of the tree and deep enough to cover the roots of the tree. If your tree is grafted, be sure the graft will be above the ground. Loosen the soil on the bottom and sides of the hole.
- Placing the Tree: Place the tree in the center of the hole and lift it so the grafted union (usually marked with paint at the nursery) is at least 2 inches above the ground, so the scion does not take root. Start to back fill the hole.
- Filling the Hole/Watering: Keep filling the hole with soil (still holding the tree) packing dirt around the roots. Water your tree as you pack the soil to prevent air pockets by the roots. You may want to use a slow-release fertilizer such as Miracle Grow as you water or use Miracle Grow Fertilizer Spikes. Continue to water every 7-10 days allowing the soil to dry between watering.
- Mulching: Mulching can help keep moisture in the soil, just be careful not to pile it up around the trunk of the tree. Use good quality, aged mulch from a trusted Garden Center or Landscaping Company to help prevent diseases.
- Staking: You may need to stake a tree that is smaller. When staking, use a 5-6 foot long stake and put it in to the ground about 1.5-2 feet on the South side of the tree. Tie a piece of twine tightly around the stake using a square knot, then tie the twine loosely around the tree (so the tree is in a loop) using a square knot.
Get your kids involved in the planting process. My kids helped with digging, filling the holes, and watering. They seemed to have fun with the process and, don’t tell them, they learned an important skill. I think it gives them a sense of accomplishment, even more so when you start to see the “fruits” of your labor.
With proper care (i.e. pruning, watering, fertilizing, etc.) your fruit tree will bare fruit for years to come!