Fruit trees are not only lovely, they can provide your friends and family with fresh and nutritious food. If you are thinking about planting fruit trees, there are several things that you should consider to ensure success:
1. Determine which trees work best in your area. Agricultural areas are broken down into zones. Certain plants have a better rate of survival, and of bearing fruit, in certain zones. For example, citrus trees do well in zones 10, 9 and 8 – Florida, California, and other warm states – but they don’t do as well in zones 2, 3, or 4, which are much cooler states farther north.
If you are purchasing fruit trees from an online vendor, each tree should indicate the optimal growing zone. Familiarize yourself with your zone, so your trees will thrive.
2. Make sure your soil conditions are compatible with your trees. Acidity, the amount of clay or sand, and several other factors determine the condition of the soil. Even if you are in the right zone, inhospitable soil conditions can ruin your chances of success. You can find soil testing kits at garden stores. Once you have tested the soil, you can find trees that will grow will under those specific conditions. You can also take steps to change the condition of the soil with fertilizers and other add-ins.
3. When purchasing your trees, make sure you buy at least two of each type – apple, orange, peach, etc. – to allow for cross pollination. Essentially, the trees will pollinate each other with the help of honey bees and other natural processes.
Once you have determined your zone and soil type and purchased your trees, now comes the easy part – planting.
1. For the best results, recruit a friend or family member to help you with the planting. You should also wear heavy-duty gloves to protect your hands from potential cuts and scrapes.
2. Dig a hole at least 3’ wide by 3’ deep, or to the width and depth specified by the instructions on the tree. You need to start the tree deep enough that the roots can expand and effectively anchor the tree. If the hole is too shallow, the tree could fall over.
3. Fill half the hole with a mixture of soil and compost, or a store-bought fertilizer made with organic materials. Make a small mound in the center of the hole.
4. Remove the protective wrapping from the tree and remove any damaged branches and roots. Take care that you do not cut into healthy parts of the tree, and do not prune the tree too heavily. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and cut very little.
5. The bottom of the tree should look like a thick staff with the root tendrils trailing out from all sides. There should be a fairly flat area in the center. Put the tree in the hole so that the flat area sits on top of the dirt mound, and the root tendrils trail down the sides of the mound.
6. Some trees have what is known as a graft union – a slightly bulbous area where the trunk meets the rootstock. If your tree has one of these, that section should be approximately two inches above the edge of the hole.
If necessary, remove the tree and add or remove soil to adjust it to the proper height.
7. Once you have the tree in place, fill in the hole with soil and pack it down gently. The soil should be packed tightly enough to prevent the tree from listing to one side, but not so tight that it could impede root expansion.
8. Water the tree based on the instructions from the nursery, or information provided for that particular tree type. You should always have watering information on hand because too much, or too little, water can adversely affect the tree’s growth.