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Fruit Tree Planting Advice 22 June 2020

Fruit Tree Planting

As Autumn and Winter approach minds can turn to the planting of fruit in the garden or allotment. Without doubt, the most important day in the long life of a fruit tree is the planting day, so every effort must be made to get it just right.

Rootstock Fruit Trees

What are Rootstocks?
We supply rootstock trees which are used to restrict the vigour of fruit trees making them suitable to grow in a small space. They can also contribute to the disease resistance of a plant. We have 4 different types of rootstock trees;
-St Julien rootstock (Semi-vigorous): Ultimate height when trained as a bush is 12ft.
- Quince A Rootstock: Ulitmate height of 12-14ft
- Colt Rootstock: Ultimate height of 10-12ft
- M9 Rootstock: A dwarf variety with an ultimate height of 7ft.

How to Grow Fruit Trees

Preparation.  Choose a site with an open aspect and in full sunlight. Avoid sites which are lower than the surrounding area which both excess rain and also frost can gather. The soil should ideally have a PH value of between 6 and 7. This value covers the vast majority of cultivated garden land in the British Isles. The soil should be free draining and every attempt to increase the fertility of the proposed site of the tree should be made.
Planting.  Prior to planting your trees, a plot 75cms square should be marked out and thoroughly dug over to a depth of 35-45cms. Any impervious subsoil should be forked over to aid drainage.  Incorporate well-rotted manure, garden compost or spent mushroom compost into the marked area, along with two good handfuls of Bone Meal.
After unpacking the tree, its roots should be soaked in water for 24 hrs.  This is important to ensure rapid establishment of the tree.
Prepare a planting hole big enough to accommodate the roots of the tree. Before planting add a support stake, this should be hammered into the ground to a depth of 18 inches. This support stake should be about 10cms to the side of where the tree is to be planted to avoid the stake rubbing against the stem or branches of the tree.
The roots should be spread out in the planting hole and the soil backfilled in layers and after each layer the tree should be slightly shaken to ensure that the soil adequately fills in around the roots. Once the tree is planted, the graft union should be between 10-15cms above the soil level. This is most important.
Once the tree is planted, then it should be attached to the tree stake with a tree tie ensuring that the tree-tie forms a buffer between the stake and the tree.  The tree should be well watered immediately after planting.  
Weed Control.  Fruit trees do not like competition from weeds as they are very shallow rooted, with the majority of the feeding roots only ever being in the top 30cms of soil. It is recommended that a 1mtr square of weed free soil is kept around the tree. This is easily maintained by shallow hoeing. It is not recommended to use herbicides near to fruit trees.
Mulching.  A mulch of well-rotted manure, garden compost or spent mushroom compost is a very good idea, but it is important that this should only be applied after a heavy rain to ensure that the soil moisture is kept within the soil. It has been known for thick mulches to prevent water from reaching the roots of apple and pear trees. Mulches should be renewed every other year. Ensure that the mulch does not touch the stem of the tree.                                                                             
           Handy Tip Both wool and hair contain quite a high nitrogen content which is very useable by fruit trees. A good mulch can be made of squares of pure wool carpet being turned face down on the soil surrounding the tree. Within about 6 months most of the wool will have been incorporated into the soil by worms and soil born bacteria.
Watering.  During the first year the tree should be kept well watered just as you would with any other plant. Do not allow the soil to dry out, but always avoid over watering. A five litre can of water each week spread with a fine rose over the 1 meter square where the tree is planted is adequate if mulching is followed. If no mulch is present, then in high summer up to three times that amount per week will be required.
Please note The feeding and water absorbing roots will be in an area of 20cms to 1metre from the main stem. Remember that the tree will only require watering from the first sign of buds breaking out until the first signs of autumn colours. This is normally from early April until late September. Watering should not occur during the winter months.
Feeding. To give the very best fruit, the trees will require a good regime of feeding. There are many very good proprietary plant foods for fruit trees on the market. The manufacturer’s instructions should be followed, but as a rule, applications in the very early spring, early summer, late summer and then in mid-Autumn will give very good results.

How to Grow Apple and Pear Trees

Apples and pears can be grown and trained in many different ways, and the planting distance will depend on which style of tree you wish to grow.
These can range from a spacing of 75cms apart for Oblique Cordons, 1.5 metres for Dwarf Pyramid and Central Leader trees. If growing an Open Centre Bush, Espalier or Fan Trained tree a spacing of 2 meters is recommended.
As a general rule, do not plant closer that 75cms between Apple and Pear trees and do not plant closer than 1.5 meters from a hedge or other shrubs.
Pruning.  There are very many pruning styles which can be followed from very formal trained trees to much more free growing styles. Each requires a certain type of pruning which may also cover different seasons of the year. There are many very good books available detailing pruning and care and we strongly suggest that you refer to one of these to fully enjoy your fruit trees.  
Pollination Many varieties of Apple and Pear will set a crop if planted on its own, but this crop will be significantly improved if planted alongside a nearby suitable pollinator. Growing more than one variety offers other benefits as both trees will crop fruit, and a larger choice of fruit to enjoy from your garden.  Each variety in our mail order catalogue will give details of a suitable pollination partner if required.

How to Grow Cherry and Plum Trees

Stone Fruits blossom about three to four weeks earlier than Apples and Pears. This puts stone fruit at even greater risk of frost damage during blossom. Special attention should be made to find areas in the garden which are less likely to suffer spring frosts.  When the trees are blossoming and if frost is forecast, the use of horticultural fleece can be very useful in protecting the delicate flowers.
Planting Distances.  If growing a Conventional Bush tree this should be planted 3 meters apart. Whereas those grown as a Fan-Trained Tree should be spaced 4m apart.  The minimum distance between trees should be 2 meters and from a hedge or shrubs 2.5 meters.
Pruning Stone fruit should only be pruned between the end of April and the middle of September. This is essential to prevent the spread of both bacterial and fungal disease such as Silver Leaf and Bacterial Canker.
Additional care Most stone fruit is very susceptible to bird damage as the fruit is ripening. It is strongly suggested that netting is placed over the trees from the end of May to help prevent this.
When will the trees fruit?
Two year old trees will often produce a little fruit in the first year they are planted.
One year old trees will normally fruit the year after planting, once established.
Potted plants are already established and will usually fruit the year that they arrive.

Good luck and enjoy the many years of delicious fruit which your fruit tree will bring.
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