Fruit trees are a great addition to your home landscape. They provide you with delicious fruit season after season, to enjoy fresh or to use in jams, jellies, juice and pies. Planting a fruit tree isn't as simple as putting it in the ground and waiting for a bountiful crop. Attention and care are essential. Fruit trees can come with some problems. If they are not cared for properly, they may be afflicted with disease, become wilted, or produce less yield than they are supposed to.
Test the soil pH with a kit obtained from a nursery. Fruit trees grow best in a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Amend the soil if it's too acidic or alkaline. To make the soil more alkaline and raise the pH by 1.0 point, add hydrated lime. Sandy soil needs 4 oz. per square yard, loamy soil needs 8 oz., clay soil needs 12 oz. and peaty soil needs 25 oz. Reduce the pH by 1.0 point to make the soil more acidic by adding ground rock sulfur. Use 1.2 oz. per square yard for sandy soil and 3.6 oz. per square yard for other soil types.
Improve drainage if the soil is wet and heavy. According to University of Idaho Extension, poor soil is a common cause of issues when planting fruit trees. The trees may grow slowly or suffer from root diseases. Add organic matter such as compost to improve drainage. Combine well until the soil is looser and lighter. You can also use drainage tiles, which are pipes buried in the ground that have holes along their sides. These tiles will bring water away from the planting area and deposit it to a lower-lying location.
Stimulate growth on slow-growing fruit trees by pruning. Pinch off soft tissue just above buds early in the season, as the growth begins. Cut off dead or diseased wood where it meets healthy wood. This will free up the nutrients to nourish the rest of the fruit tree.
Protect fruit trees from sunburn and the pest infestation that follows. Dilute white interior latex paint with water to make it half its strength. Apply the paint to the tree trunk, starting 2 inches below the soil surface up the entire length of the tree.
Irrigate fruit trees if the leaves appear to be wilting. Dig to a depth of 4 to 6 inches at the base of the tree. Examine the soil near the roots and add water if it is not moist.
Get rid of infected leaves and fruit in the autumn. Diseases such as pear scab will present themselves with scab spores and distorted fruit. If you notice new shoots on a pear or apple tree are dying, it may be infected with fire blight. Cut off the infected wood 12 inches below the dead area. Clean the pruning blades with a solution of 10 percent liquid bleach. This will prevent the blight from spreading.
Give fruit trees fertilizer for optimal growth. They should be fed every year with a food meant for fruit trees, beginning with an application three weeks after the trees are initially put in the ground. Once a tree becomes established, feed it one month before growth starts in the spring. Disperse the food above where the roots grow, then water to get it underground. Follow the package directions.