Feeding fruit trees is essential to encourage strong foliage and fruit growth. Flower buds that form during one season will lead to fruit the next season. That's why it is so important to care for a tree right for its entire life. Your actions will affect next year's crop. Fruit trees need a nutrient-rich mulch, pollination and nitrogen-rich fertilizer to thrive.
Plant more than one fruit tree if the species needs cross-pollination. Many species cannot make fruit with their own pollen; they must have another tree's pollen to be successful. For example, most apple trees need another variety planted close by for results.
Spread 3 inches of nutrient-rich organic mulch around the trunk. This will feed the tree, retain moisture in the soil and reduce competition from weeds.
Test your soil pH with a pH test kit. Take several samples from around the planting area and test them as per the kit instructions. Knowing the soil pH will guide you in the fertilization process.
Feed cherry, apple, plum and nectarine trees once a year with a fertilizer that contains a lot of nitrogen. If the soil pH is less than 7.5, there is a potassium or phosphorus deficiency. Give the tree a food with a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio of 15-5-10 at first. Nitrogen-rich food can be given in subsequent applications. According to Texas A&M University Department of Horticultural Science, soil with a pH greater than 7.8 needs only nitrogen.
Give young fruit trees one month to become established before applying fertilizer. Scatter 1 cup of food in a 2 foot circle around the tree trunk. Keep the food away from the trunk itself--there should be a 6 inch area that is free of the chemicals. The second feeding should be the following May or June.
Spread fertilizer over a larger area once the fruit tree is in its second growing season. Apply it in the early spring, making a 3 foot circle around the tree. The following year, increase the food to 2 cups then to 3 cups in the fourth year.
Rake fertilizer lightly to help it penetrate the soil. Water the fertilizer until it's moist.