How to Garden Fruit Trees

Overview

Growing your own sweet, juicy apples, plums, peaches, cherries, apricots and more is easier than you might think. Your trees will provide you and your family with years of fresh produce from which you can make jam, jelly, pies and just include in the kids' lunchboxes as a healthy snack. Citrus trees grow in many climate zones, but are frost tender. And tropical fruit such as mangoes and papayas need warm weather year-round in order to survive. But you can grow many delicious fruits in most parts of the United States.

Gardening Fruit Trees

Step 1

Learn about the climate zone in which you live to determine which kinds of fruit trees will do well. Stone fruit, such as peaches and others with large pits, need more than 600 hours of "winter chill," which means a temperature below 45 degrees F.

Step 2

Select a sunny planting area in late winter or early spring. Make sure it is large enough for your tree when it reaches maturity. That little sapling might grow to 20 feet or taller with a spread at least that large. Dig a hole about twice the size of your tree's root ball and then mix the soil with any type of organic compost at the ratio of 1 part compost to every 3 or 4 parts of soil. Refill the planting hole with enough soil/compost to enable the young tree to sit in the hole with its trunk above the soil surface.

Step 3

Set your tree into its planting hole and then fill it with the soil/compost you prepared. Tamp the soil down gently around the tree with your foot.

Step 4

Water your newly planted tree well by running a hose at a slow drip at the root zone for about 60 minutes. Keep the soil moist for the first month after planting. After the tree is established, check the soil moisture by poking your finger into the ground and then water deeply again when the soil feels dry 2 inches deep.

Step 5

Fertilize your fruit tree three times a year with a 15-5-10 plant food. Feed immediately after you plant your tree, then again at the 30- and 60-day marks.

Step 6

Prune your tree during winter when it is dormant. Some trees, such as apricots, require that you cut off the main center limb to create an open center. Consult with the staff at your nursery or read up on specific pruning techniques for your type of tree at the library or online.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always plant grafted fruit trees with the grafted area above the soil surface. Do not fertilize your fruit tree after midsummer because the nitrogen in the plant food can cause rapid growth of foliage, which can become damaged by an early frost.

Things You'll Need

  • Climate zone map
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears or saw

References

  • California Rare Fruit Growers: Backyard Orchard Culture
  • Earth Easy: Tips For Growing Productive Fruit Trees
  • University of New Hampshire: Growing Fruit Trees
  • Bay Laurel Nursery: Fruit Trees---How to Plant, Grow and Care For

Who Can Help

  • The Garden Helper: USDA Plant Hardiness and Gardening Zones
  • University of Florida: New Plants for Florida
Keywords: fruit trees, apples apricots, planting gardening, pruning fertilizing

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.