Fruit Tree Care

  1. How Do You Select and Plant a Fruit Tree?

    Methley Plum Tree

    Wherever you live, the basic rules for selecting and planting a fruit trees are similar. First and foremost is selecting the right variety for where you live. Many varieties of fruit are widely adaptable like the Santa Rosa Plum. But the question is: will your favorite do well in your yard?

    Popular newer varieties like the Honeycrisp Apple or the Flavor King Pluot are the greatest, but they can be a challenge in some locations. The Honeycrisp Apple, for instance, was developed by the University of Minnesota and released in 1974. It is a fine quality apple that is perfectly suited for colder climates. However, it can be a challenge in dry climates with low humidity. In regions with low summer humidity, Honeycrisp can drop its crop with the occasional heat spikes. In drier areas, Gala would be a much better choice. With that said, the Flavor King Pluot is an outstanding plum-like piece of fruit introduced in the 1980’s by Zaiger Hybrids and is limited to areas where apricots do well. If you are unaware of apricots in your area, a selection like the Methley plum would be a better choice. The point is to make sure to pay attention to where the variety you are selecting is recommended.

    Drainage is the next consideration. The #1 reason people lose fruit trees is due to poor drainage. The problem is most often not over watering, rather suffocation in the root zone brought on by standing water throughout the wintertime. Recovery in the spring is difficult because once spring begins, irrigation begins as well. This does not allow the tree to dry out in the root zone and it struggles. In the Midwest, Northeast and South - where the rainy season extends into the summer months - a poor draining location will often never allow the tree to adapt. Some have no other choice but to plant in a location that drains poorly. In this case, a raised bed planting is recommended. The dimensions for a raised bed need not be any more than 3 x 3 x 12 inches tall and can be done with any material that will last. A simple mound can satisfy the need to elevate, but it needs to be at least 24 inches high by 4 feet wide to ensure that the mound will settle to 2 feet high.

    Digging a hole can be the easiest task of all. The hole need not be any deeper than the depth of the root you are planting. In the case of a #3 gallon tree, the depth would only be 12 inches. The width of the hole should be 3 times the width of the root or container, and dug in a cone-like shape. Place the tree in the center of the hole (cone) cover with soil packing the root as you cover to ensure no air pockets are remaining. In most situations, there is no need to amend the soil except in the most extreme conditions where there is an obvious lack of organic material present. It is to the benefit of the tree to get established in the soil that it will live in as soon as possible. If you are planting in a raised bed whether due to poor drainage or for ornamental reasons, use native soil and don’t worry about digging a hole. Place your tree in the center of your raised bed and fill and pack.

    Mulching, in the eyes of the experts, has become one off the most important additions required to growing almost anything successfully. This is particularly the case with fruit trees. Mulch provides winter protection to the root, keeps the root cool in the heat of the summer and when regularly replenished, provides nutrients to the tree. This means that the overall expense of mulch begins to pay you back right away with a more consistent growing environment for your tree. Mulching should be done to 3 feet from the trunk after planting. This includes the raised bed when one is used. In colder climates - like those that can occur in Zone 4a through 5b - it is recommended that the mulch cover the outside of the raised bed. Place the mulch within 5 inches of the trunk of the tree and taper it away from the trunk so it does not cover it. Make sure it raises quickly to 3 to 4 inches going out to 3 feet from the newly planted tree.

    Irrigation systems for dry climates are an important addition to fruit tree maintenance. A dripline with emitters and a clock allows for the more consistent control of water distribution, making it easier to adjust watering needs throughout the year.

    Container or bareroot is a choice most often about timing. Bareroot is available from early January until June. The largest variety of fruit trees becomes available in the winter with the delivery of the current crop of fruit trees. Growers send one crop a year of bareroot harvested in fall and delivered throughout the winter and spring. It is now that most container fruit trees are planted up to become available as the bareroot winds down. The containers are typically available throughout the season and some will roll into the next year. Both are great choices, with containers being there anytime you are ready to plant.

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  2. It’s Fall and Fall is the Time to Plant Fruit Trees

    Donald Wyman Crabapple

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  3. Fruit Trees Benefit From Fall Planting in the Mid West and East

    Tree mulch

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  4. The Scoop on Crabapples

    With so many different crabapples available today it is hard to know what to choose. Some of those old-fashioned crabapple varieties used to be wildly susceptible to apple scab and other diseases, to the point where the leaves would rain off the trees in August. The older selections also had fruit that was also large and fell to the ground in summer creating another mess. Those days of disease ridden, messy crabapple varieties are long gone, but not forgotten. Maybe you remember the old Hopa Crabapple from years ago? It was a huge grower with pink flowers, and once the flowers were done, it had no other attributes. Today, Nature Hills offers Crabapples of many types offering a myriad of flower color, leaf color, persistent fruit, and disease resistance. Crabapples are worth looking at once again!

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  5. Pruning Peach Trees for Larger Fruit

    Peach TreeGardeners often fall into one of two categories – either they LOVE pruning time every year (“It’s cathartic!”) or they HATE pruning time every year (“I think that tree can wait till next year.”). Unfortunately, it is part of the deal when you plant fruit trees. All fruit trees – but especially peach trees – need some coddling when it comes to pruning time.

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  6. Dwarf Citrus Tree: A Perfect Accent for Your Baby’s Room

    Indoor Citrus Tree Gearing up the nursery involves a lot of tough choices. After all, you and your baby will be spending a lot of time in there. You want it to be as healthy as possible for your little one, but also comfortable and decorative. There’s no better way to achieve all of that than houseplants. Houseplants are nice decorative accents, and are well known for improving air quality, as they produce clean oxygen from their leaves.
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  7. Fruit Tree Pollination: Does Your Fruit Tree Need a Friend?

    Many fruit trees require a pollinator, but what does that mean exactly?   Although there are fruit trees out there that are self fruitful (like some cherry tree varieties for example), others will require a recommended pollinator in order to produce fruit (like apple trees). Basically, fruit is produced when the female parts of a flower are exposed to pollen, which is what we mean when we say "pollination."  Pollen is produced by the male parts of the flower.  Some flowers, called “perfect flowers,” contain both female parts and pollen-producing male parts.  Plants with perfect flowers can sometimes pollinate themselves, but some have biological blocks in place that prevent self-pollination.  Other plants have flowers that are either male or female.  These require pollen-producing male flowers to be accessible to the female flowers.  Sometimes, male and female flowers grow on the same tree.  In some species, though, male flowers grow on male trees and female flowers grow on female trees.
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  8. Fruit Tree Fertilization

    [caption id="attachment_4366" align="alignleft" width="300"]fertile_soil Fertile soil[/caption] You want the best fruit your fruit tree can give, right? Good fruit comes from fertile soil, so the key is to  maintain soil health.  Sometimes, this means adding fertilizer, but know how to prevent over-fertilizing. Fertilizer in excess can be more damaging than no fertilizer at all. The most practical way of checking soil fertility is by investigating the annual growth of the tree.  If you inspect the branches and follow the branch from the tip to the previous year’s growth, you can measure how much the fruiting tree grew in a season. New growth is flexible and green, while last year's growth is darker (often brown) and more rigid.  A mature, fruit-producing tree should have 6-8 inches of vegetative growth each year.  Immature fruit trees grow more quickly, but don’t produce fruit.  

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  9. Can I Plant A Sweet Pomegranate Tree In A Container?

    Pomegranate in a barrel planterSweet Pomegranate Tree is suitable for a large container and is somewhat smaller than other varieties.  It grows to about 12 feet and has orange-red flowers in late spring, producing beautiful pink fruits in the fall.  The Sweet Pomegranate tree is a large fruit with light pink flesh, and the taste is sweet and juicy. This ornamental tree has glossy, leathery leaves that are narrow and lance-shaped.  The “Sweet” Pomegranate is self-pollinated, as well as cross-pollinated by insects.  Cross-pollination with another pomegranate will increase the fruit set.  It will produce fruit in 3-5 years. Pomegranates should be placed in the sunniest, warmest part of the yard or orchard for the best fruit, although they will grow and flower in part shade on a deck or patio area.  It does best in well-drained ordinary soil, but also thrives on calcareous or acidic loam. The attractive foliage, flowers and fruits of this pomegranate, as well as its smallish size, make it an excellent container or landscaping plant.
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  10. Planting & Pruning Peach Trees For Larger Fruit

    PeachesDo you grow your own peaches or nectarines at home? If not you should give them a try. They are an easy and (pardon the pun) fruitful tree to grow. Peach trees are native of China and belong to the Prunus species. The peach trees that are being grown in orchards today have a long history. Today orchard grown peaches are divided into two groups, clingstones and freestones. If the peach flesh sticks to the pit, it is a clingstone. Conversely, if the flesh falls away from the pit easily, it is freestone. Peach fruit has varying levels of acidity, and generally, the white fleshed peach is the least acidic. Yellow fleshed peaches tend to be more tangy and acidic. Fertilization or soil types do not affect skin colors of either the peach or the nectarine. Peach fruit and nectarine fruit are often thought of as totally unique fruits. In fact, the nectarine is closely related to the peach. The main difference is the lack of fuzz on the nectarine skin. The nectarine can be used in the same way as a peach. The nectarine tends to be a little smaller fruit than a peach, and it displays more red color on the skin.
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