How to Grow Fruit Trees in North Carolina

Overview

According to North Carolina State University, your region's climate will affect which fruit tree you can grow in the state. Although there are several cultivators of fruit trees such as apples that grow well in varied climates, a tropical fruit such as a banana tree will not grow in North Carolina's climate. North Carolina falls between USDA hardiness zones 6, 7 and 8. These differences in climate can drastically affect when--or even if--a fruit tree will survive or bear fruit in North Carolina.

Step 1

Select a location for your trees that is in full sun and well-drained soil. Avoid areas near homes that will shade the tree or fences that will disrupt good air flow.

Step 2

Collect 1 quart of soil from up to 10 locations around your property with a shovel and a bucket. Mix these soils samples and spread them over newspaper to allow them to dry. Scoop a cupful of soil into a sandwich bag and take the bag to your county extension service. A county extension agent can help you submit the soil to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture soil testing facility for a small fee. Your test results should come back in about three weeks.

Step 3

Break up the soil to a depth of 12 inches over a wide area with a rototiller to encourage good root development when you plant your trees. Spread a 4 inch layer of soil amendments over the soil based on the soil test results in step 2. Mix these amendments with the soil using the rototiller. Typical soil amendments for North Carolina soils include organic amendments such as peat moss and compost to help improve drainage in the clay soil of the piedmont and improve the nutrient content of sandy costal soils. Additionally, you should add lime to raise the pH of soil or sulfur to lower the pH.

Step 4

Find your property on a map of North Carolina that shows where the divisions between USDA temperate zones lie. This will help you to properly select fruit trees for your area. Your county extension agency or tree nursery will have such a map.

Step 5

Obtain fruit trees from local nurseries. Trees from local nurseries will be adapted to your climate as well as more naturally resistant to bugs and diseases in your area. Select a tree that already has a single, central leader and evenly spaced scaffold branches.

Step 6

Open a planting hole in the soil that is twice as wide as the root ball but no deeper. Place the root ball in the soil and fill in around the sides of the plant. Water the tree until the roots become established so that the soil around the tree remains as damp as a wrung-out sponge. Decrease watering of your fruit tree until you only water in times of drought.

Step 7

Prune fruit trees while the trees are young so that the branches are evenly spaced like the rungs on a ladder. Do not allow the tree to bear blossoms or fruit the first two years so that it will put its energy into developing its root system.

Step 8

Fertilize trees by spreading 1 cup of balanced, (10-10-10) fertilizer around the drip line of the tree in four applications the first year. Use 2 cups of fertilizer the second year and 3 cups every year after that.

Step 9

Thin fruit buds so that the tree produces only one piece of fruit per square foot of branch.

Step 10

Cultivate shallowly around the tree to prevent grass and weeds from growing and competing for nutrients from the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Bucket
  • Newspaper
  • Rototiller
  • Peat moss
  • Compost
  • Lime
  • Sulfur
  • Pruning shears
  • Branch loppers
  • Balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer

References

  • NC State University: Producing Tree Fruit for Home Use
  • NC State University: Growing Apple Trees In The Home Garden
  • NC State University: Soil Sampling

Who Can Help

  • Grow It: North Carolina USDA Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: growing fruit trees, North Carolina Fruit, selecting fruit cultivators

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."