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Fruit Tree Care

It is important to provide proper care and maintenance to a fruit tree in order for a healthy tree with a full crop of fruit. The three main areas are fertilization, irrigation, and pruning.

The first step is proper fertilization. Fruit trees need to be fertilized each spring to ensure a season of full, healthy growth. Trees should not, however, be fertilized the year of planting. The main nutrient needed by fruit trees to grow properly is nitrogen. Nitrogen can be found both organically or in chemical form. Fertilizer should be applied in the spring at the time of the first irrigation.

Second is proper irrigation. Irrigation is essential to producing a full crop of healthy fruit. The most effective way to properly irrigate a fruit tree is to dig a basin around the drip line of the tree and fill it with a garden hose. The soil should be well draining enough that the water should fully drain into the soil within a few minutes. The crown, or graft location, of the tree should not come into contact with the water at any time.

Fruit tree care also takes place in the winter. At this time, the tree needs to be pruned. Cutting off branches that do not fit the particular shape chosen for the tree should be done only during the dormant period. This will encourage new growth to appear during the growing season. Pruning fruit trees during the growing season has a hindering effect on the growth process.

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  • 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. Continue reading

  • 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.
    Continue reading

  • 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. Continue reading

  • Fruit Tree Fertilization

    fertile_soil Fertile soil

    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.   Continue reading

  • 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.

  • 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.
    Continue reading

  • Spraying Fruit Trees

    Spraying Orange TreesOne of the leading problems facing fruit trees is insects and other pests. They will infect the fruit with various diseases and often lay eggs inside.

    The best way to keep fruit plants free from pests is by spraying them. Spraying fruit trees not only rids them of pests, it may even help protect the fruit trees from diseases and fungus.

    The first step to spraying fruit trees is to get the proper equipment. Spraying fruit trees requires a sprayer, a garden hose, a mixing tub and the spray itself. Continue reading

  • Pruning Fruit Trees

    PENTAX ImageThere are many reasons for pruning fruit trees in the garden. Pruning fruit trees stimulates growth by limiting the amount of buds that the tree has to grow.

    Pruning fruit trees can improve the tree structure. Thinning of the fruit will result in better quality and larger fruit. Fruit tree pruning can also be dwarfing, and may be used to control the size of the tree.

    Pruning fruit trees should almost always be done during the winter, or dormant season. This is when the leaves have all fallen and the structure is more easily identifiable. Continue reading

  • Planting Fruit Trees

    Fruit Tree FarmMany gardeners decide to plant a fruit tree in their home landscape. Before planting fruit bushes & trees, there are several things to consider. The first is what type of fruit tree to plant.

    It is best to plant a fruit tree that is local to the region, and matches the soil conditions. It is also important to understand that many fruit trees do not self-pollinate. For this reason, more than one fruit tree must often be grown.

    Once the type of fruit tree is decided, the actual tree must be chosen. Most fruit trees are sold bare root, meaning their roots are exposed.
    It is best to plant a fruit tree with a strong straight stem, which will provide the best support. Planting fruit trees with low branches will hinder the growing abilities and can encourage pests. Continue reading

  • Growing Amazing Fruit: Techniques for Success (public domain image)

    Growing fruit trees in the continental United States normally dictates that we plant deciduous fruit trees. An exception would be citrus fruit trees, which are grown in subtropical zones (zones 9 and 10), or in containers for inside temperature control. Nursery grown fruit trees are usually orchard quality trees that are grown by fruit growers and the backyard gardener for producing backyard fruit.

    The zone in which the fruit grower is located is critical for success for the many fruit varieties that are offered. All nursery grown fruit tree varieties have zone recommendations on the tags or in the nursery advertisements. Zone specifications are just as important to the backyard fruit grower as the professional orchard fruit grower.

    Most subtropical fruit trees are evergreen. The subtropical fruit trees will withstand some below freezing weather if they are in their dormant season or semi-dormant season. In temperate climatic zones, the fruit grower will need to move the citrus varieties inside during the winter months. Temperate zone fruit trees would include apples trees, cherry trees, pear trees, and peach trees. Subtropical fruit trees would include orange and lemon trees.

    Cherry TreeCaring for fruit trees is much the same as caring for any plant. Proper soil, drainage, moisture, and fertility conditions would need to be maintained. Proper care for the fruit bearing branches is unique as compared to other trees.

    Pruning fruit trees should begin at an early age. Most fruit trees produce more quality fruit, and live longer, healthier lives if properly maintained and pruned. Fruit tree pruning does not need to be complicated or confusing. Many times the nursery will do the initial pruning on the dormant fruit tree. If the fruit tree arrives already pruned from the nursery, it can be planted without further pruning.

    If the dormant bareroot tree arrives with long branches and over 3 foot tall, prune the tree to knee high and cut the side branches back by at last 2/3rds to promote vigorous new growth. Top pruning induces lateral branch growth, and in fruit trees, this produces a more easily accessible tree branch and shapely form. Pruning also diverts the expenditure of nourishment to form woody growth to that of buds and fruit.

    Fruit trees are fast growing. After the spring flush of growth, cut the new growth back by ½. In late summer, prune the new growth on the branches back again by ½. The 2nd year pruning of the backyard fruit tree is the same as the first. Cut back new growth by half in the spring and again in late summer. In the 3rd year, choose a height and do not let the tree get any taller.

    Tree height is a decision for the pruner. When there are vigorous branches above the chosen height, cut back or remove them. I n late spring or early summer, pinch back all new growth. Size development and low fruiting wood is determined in the 3rd year. Each branch should have at least 6 inches of free space around them. Remove all crossing branches that are too close together. Keeping fruit tree branches open to allow more light and freedom for bee movement is important. Sunlight and bees carrying pollen should allow for more and larger fruit. All varieties of fruit trees can be maintained at a predetermined height if pruned consistently.

    Pollination of backyard fruit trees is just as important to the small property owner as it is to a professional nursery. Many varieties of fruit trees are not self pollinating and require another fruit tree for pollination. Every fruit tree needs pollen to set fruit regardless of zone. Nursery grown apple trees will have pollinators by every row of apple trees. Even if the apple tree is known as self-fruitful, pollen from other compatible apple trees can assist in setting more fruit. Cross pollinizing varieties should bloom at approximately the same time as the other apple tree.

    Crabapple trees are exceptional pollinizers because of their heavy blooming characteristics and their length of bloom period. Other fruit trees, such as sweet cherries, need pollinizers to produce fruits. Sour cherry trees are mostly self-fruitful. Many peach, pear, and plum trees are self-fruitful and will benefit from having a compatible pollinizer close by. Lemon and orange trees are mostly self-fruitful.

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