How to Cultivate Fruit Trees

Overview

Fruit trees can add more than fresh produce to your lifestyle because many are attractive trees that add appeal to any landscape. From apples to peaches to all of the citrus fruits, fruit trees are easy to grow. It's important to learn about the type of fruit tree you plan to grow, however, because different fruit trees have different needs. For example, frost can damage or kill citrus trees while the stone fruits, such as peaches and plums, require a certain amount of cold weather in order to set fruit.

Step 1

Select varieties of fruit trees that are appropriate for your climate zone. If you live in a cold winter area, outdoor citrus trees are not your best bet, unless you plan to grow them in containers you move indoors before your first fall frost. If your winters are warmer and you receive little frost, look for varieties of stone fruit trees that have been bred to produce fruit that does not require a winter chill period.

Step 2

Prepare a planting area in full sun in late winter or early spring. Dig a planting hole at least twice the size of your tree's root system and then mix about one gallon of organic compost with every three or four gallons of the soil you dig out. Wait until after your final spring frost and then refill the hole about half full with your soil/compost mixture. Then set your tree into the hole. Make sure the grafted area on the trunk, if the tree is a grafted variety, remains several inches above the soil surface and then fill the hole with the rest of the soil/compost, patting it down gently after you fill the hole.

Step 3

Water your newly planted tree thoroughly by running a hose at its base at a slow drip for up to one hour.

Step 4

Support your tree with a plastic, wooden or metal plant stake. Pound the stake into the soil about 6 inches from the trunk and then tie the tree to the stake using nursery tape or cloth strips.

Step 5

Fertilize your tree three times each year, beginning in late winter and repeating your feeding in mid-spring and midsummer. Use balanced plant food having an N-P-K ratio of 15-5-10; mix it and apply it according to package instructions.

Step 6

Prune your tree correctly, usually in winter, according to the type of tree. Some fruit trees, such as apricots, benefit from having their main central leader branch cut in a certain way, which allows light to reach the center of the tree and creates a pleasing shape that also helps the tree to remain healthy and produce the maximum amount of fruit.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid fertilizing your tree after around August 1 because feeding causes rapid new vegetative growth, which frost can damage in fall.

Things You'll Need

  • Climate zone map
  • Appropriate varieties of fruit trees
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Stakes
  • Nursery tape or cloth strips
  • 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

Who Can Help

  • The Garden Helper: USDA Plant Hardiness and Gardening Zones
Keywords: fruit trees, growing food, citrus apple peach

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.