Western Notes - USDA ZONE 7b – 11a
To all home gardeners considering fruit trees there is no better time than fall to plant. No matter what your favorite - apple, cherry, peach, plum or something more exotic like persimmons or jujubes - fall planting will give your fruit tree the best start.
In most regions of the country, fall plantings are highly recommended for the most basic reason. While dormant, your plants roots system begins to get established while your tree adapts to its new home. This means that it wakes up in the spring ready to start growing vigorously comfortable in its new home.
For gardeners in the west, there are other very important advantages to fall planting. Most fruit trees can be grown using much less water than has historically been recommended. The cost of water has dry climate gardeners looking for ways to save. This means that a planting in the fall will hopefully benefit from the fall and winter rains. Unlike a spring planting that immediately requires frequent watering, the fall and winter rains come without a cost. Frequent watering can be costly in a warm spring. Fall planting allows the roots to develop to aid the plants ability to withstand longer periods between watering in the spring. A fall planting can benefit from up to 4 months or more of cost free water.
In the fall, container fruit trees are most often available in #3 and #5 gallon sizes. By shopping for container fruit trees in fall, you will be purchasing trees that are at the end of their season and in varying states of beginning dormancy. Leaf drop, browning or yellowing leaves, and pruned back plants are not uncommon. Be aware of this and plant the trees with the confidence that if your drainage is good and you have at least 8 hours of sunlight (preferably morning), your trees will thrive come the spring.