How to Care for Fruit & Nut Trees During the Winter


All deciduous fruit and nut trees share a common trait, they become dormant over the winter. While the trees above ground are not growing, the roots below ground are expanding into new territory. Perform the winter care once all leaves have fallen from the tree. Proper care over the winter will lead to a healthier tree the next growing season.

Step 1

Remove all dead and damaged limbs from the trees with pruning shears. Make the cuts as clean as possible just above the next branching bud or node on the limb. Pick up all pruned limbs and remove from the area.

Step 2

Clean around the base of the tree with the leaf rake. Remove all dead fruit, leaves and errant debris. Haul all raked material to a separate area far from the fruit and nut trees. Insects and other pests will reside in the debris over the winter.

Step 3

Wrap the base of the tree trunk with a small mesh hardware cloth. The metal screen will deter small rodents from chewing on the bark of the tree. Remove the hardware cloth in spring just as the upper limbs begin to bloom.

Step 4

Apply a dormant tree root fertilizer for your particular species of fruit and nut tree. Follow all label directions for application rates based on tree size or age.

Step 5

Spray a dormant oil spray on the trunk and upper limbs of the tree. The refined oil will suffocate any insect eggs that are overwintering in the crevices of the bark. Mix the dormant oil according to label directions. Coat the tree with oil using the sprayer until the oil drips from the limbs. Apply the oil in early morning when temperatures reach above freezing.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Leaf rake
  • Hardware cloth
  • Dormant tree root fertilizer
  • Dormant oil
  • Sprayer


  • UC Davis: Planting and Care of Young Fruit Trees (PDF)
  • University of Missouri: Fruit and Nut Cultivars for Home Planting
  • Texas A&M University: Fruit Gardening in Texas
  • Oklahoma State University: Home Tree Fruit Production and Pest Management (PDF)
Keywords: dormant care trees, prune fruit nuts, winter tree spraying

About this Author

G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.