Selecting A Fruit Tree
An important factor to consider before selecting a fruit tree is whether it is self-pollinating or requires a compatible-pollen variety to be planted nearby, ideally within 50 feet of each other. Our experienced staff can help you determine if you need a pollenizer tree and if so, which would be a good match.
Most varieties of fruit trees are available in standard (reaching 15-30’), semi-dwarf (15-20 feet), or dwarf (ranges from 5-15 depending on root stock). Standard fruit trees will yield the most fruit, but dwarf trees produce an impressive amount of fruit and make it easier for homeowners to harvest the fruit. You no longer need a huge space to have an orchard- the smaller spread of the dwarf trees also allow the opportunity to grow more trees in a smaller area.
Fertile, well-draining soil is best for nearly every type of plant. Fruit trees are no exception. You may find it necessary to add amendments to the soil if the existing soil contains too much clay or sand.
Your fruit trees will do best with as much sunlight as possible, preferably six hours or more a day. If the trees are grown in containers, they can be planted anytime during the growing season. Bareroot trees are best planted in the spring. If planting a bareroot tree, make sure the root system does not have a chance to dry out at any point.
Fruit trees require regular watering when they are actively growing. A newly planted tree does not need fertilizing right away but should wait until the following growing season. Use a fertilizer meant for fruit trees and follow all instructions carefully; over-fertilizing can lead to excessively fast vegetative growth which leaves the plant susceptible to disease.
Pruning should be done in late fall to early spring, while the tree is still dormant. Suckers at the base of the fruit tree can be removed at any time.
The focus for the first three years should be to establish a strong framework rather than fruit production. When the tree is established, the pruning goal should be to increase the amount of light and air that gets to the fruit-bearing parts of the tree.
Many fruit trees, like apples and pears, bear their fruit on spurs. Spurs are shortened stems off the main branches. When there are too many spurs, the developing fruit won’t get enough light, air, and nutrients to produce quality fruit. Reducing the number of spurs that are grouped close together can help produce bigger, tastier fruit. Another option is to thin out the fruit as it starts to develop, leaving one to two choice fruits, about 6-8 inches apart.