How to Grow Your Own Fruit Trees

Overview

The first settlers in North America brought familiar seeds from Europe to use for orchards. Today, whether you have a small backyard or a large farm for an orchard, you can also grow your own fruit. Tunr fruits into pies, jams and jellies, eat fresh or freeze for cooking.

Step 1

Determine whether the tree you wish to propagate is an heirloom or hybrid. Start heirloooms from seed, but start hybrids through grafting or rooted cuttings.

Step 2

Propagate a tree from seed by collecting the seed from the tree's fruit. Plant the seed in well-drained soil that receives at least six hours of sun. Plant the seed in the ground twice as deep as the seed's diameter and water so that the soil is as damp as a wrung-out sponge to encourage germination.

Step 3

Propagate a tree by taking a cutting from the last six inches of a young branch. The branch should have three points where a leaf emerges (leaf nodes). Strip the lower 2/3 of the leaves from the branch. Dip the end in rooting hormone and insert the branch into well-drained soil in a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight. Water so the soil remains as damp as a wrung-out sponge. Cover the branch with a glass jar to hold in moisture. Remove the jar once the tree sprouts roots.

Step 4

Graft a cutting onto the rootstock of another tree by clipping off the last six inches of a young branch (scion) from a tree with sharp pruning shears in fall. Store the scion throughout the winter in a plastic freezer bag filled with damp peat moss. Keep in your refrigerator. Graft the branch in spring when the rootstock tree begins to bud. Cut the trunk of a seedling rootstock tree that is the same size as the scion at a 45-degree angle. Cut the scion in a mirroring angle and press it against the tree trunk. Bind the scion to the root stock with grafting tape. Remove the grafting tape when the tree heals.

Step 5

Plant more than one fruit tree to encourage cross-pollination and abundant fruit.

Step 6

Prune fruit trees when they are young so that they will grow a strong frame to support fruit. Prune your tree to develop a strong central leader and evenly spaced branches. This is called a "ladder" formation because the tree resembles a ladder that can be climbed. Prune trees in late fall or early spring while they are dormant.

Step 7

Cultivate shallowly around the bottom of a tree to remove grass and weeds. This will eliminate competitors for nutrients and water. Place guards around the trunks of trees to prevent rodent damage to the tender bark.

Step 8

Thin the fruit to one piece of fruit every foot of branch along the tree. This will reduce the weight on the branches and help trees to produce healthy, large fruit.

Step 9

Remove dead and diseased wood to prevent the spread of diseases.

Step 10

Fertilize each spring with a balanced, (10-10-10) granulated fertilizer. Spread the fertilizer in a ring around the drip line of the tree.

Step 11

Water fruit trees only in times of drought. Watering fruit trees when they receive ample water encourages a shallow, weakened root system.

Things You'll Need

  • Tree seeds
  • Pruning shears
  • Rooting hormone
  • Grafting knife
  • Grafting tape
  • Rake
  • Balanced, (10-10-10) fertilizer
  • Garden hose

References

  • University of New Hampshire: Growing Fruit Trees
  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service: Producing Tree Fruit for Home Use
  • North Carolina State University Extension: Growing Apple Trees In The Home Garden

Who Can Help

  • University of Maine Extension: Planting and Early Care of Fruit Trees
Keywords: Growing fruit trees, Raising fruit, propagating fruit trees

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."