How to Plant & Care for Fruit Trees


Choose a fruit tree to plant that grows well in your USDA Plant Hardiness zone. (Find a link to a hardiness zone map in Resources.) Some apple trees need cold winter temperatures to set fruit; others are better suited to warmer climates. All fruit trees are sold with tags that tell you which zones are best suited for them. Fruit trees can be planted any time of the year. They are often purchased in the winter dormant season and called "bareroot". Bareroot trees that have trunks 1/2 to 5/8 inches in diameter become established faster and grow better. Cover the roots with sawdust or mulch until the tree is planted.

Planting Fruit Trees

Step 1

Choose a location that has minimum of six hours of direct sunlight per day. Stone fruits such as peaches and nectarines do well with more. Choose a spot that has 3 feet between the fruit tree and neighboring vegetation.

Step 2

Dig a hole two times as deep and wide as the tree's rootball. Plant so the graft line sits 2 or 3 inches above the ground. Fill in the hole with garden soil, firming it down to avoid air pockets.

Step 3

Water the tree thoroughly to settle the soil around the rootball. Check for good drainage. Fruit trees do not like standing water around the trunk area. The soil should remain moist. Water one time per week.

Fruit Tree Care

Step 1

Prune the young fruit tree in the summer to establish a desirable structure. Cut off excessive lateral growth and emphasize horizontal limb growth.

Step 2

Fertilize fruit trees in the spring as the new growing season begins. Add one shovel full of compost as a side dressing. Add a 3-inch layer of mulch around the tree base to conserve water.

Step 3

Clean up all plant debris and fallen fruit around the tree's base. Good sanitation practices help control insect pests and disease.

Step 4

Prune fruit trees each winter to encourage new growth and good fruit production. Remove all deadwood. Choose three or four side branches to remain and remove the rest. Cut the branches and limbs back to 2/3 their original length.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not amend the soil with compost when the tree is planted because it compacts the root system. Use compost as a side dressing fertilizer as the tree grows.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden gloves
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Pruning shears


  • University of California at Davis Extension: Fruit Trees: Planting & Care of Young Trees

Who Can Help

  • National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
  • Ohio State University Extension: Growing Peach and Nectarines in the Home Landscape
Keywords: fruit tree care, plant fruit trees, organic fruit trees

About this Author

Joan Norton, M.A., is a licensed psychotherapist and professional writer in the field of women's spirituality. She blogs and has two published books on the subject of Mary Magdalene; "14 Steps To Awaken The Sacred Feminine:Women in the Circle of Mary Magdalene," and "The Mary Magdalene Within."