Flowering fruit tree.
image by jpctalbot/Flickr.com
Fruit trees can be a great addition to a yard, garden or landscape when chosen appropriately. These trees come in a wide array of shapes and sizes and can serve many purposes. The purchase of a fruit tree should not be taken lightly. There are several things that you must consider to make sure that the tree meets your needs.
Selecting Your Fruit Tree
Think about where you will plant your fruit tree. Consider the amount of space that the tree will have as it grows, and the amount of sunlight it will receive on a daily basis. If you have a relatively small amount of space for your tree, purchase a dwarf or semi-dwarf rootstock, such as a small- to mid-sized apple tree. The rootstock is the portion of the tree that you do not see when the tree is planted. The size of the rootstock determines the size of the tree. Keep your rootstock well pruned to maintain a smaller size. If you have a fair amount to a large amount of space, you can purchase a semi-standard- to standard-sized tree, such as a pear or cherry tree.
Consider your planting location's climate and gardening zones. The USDA climate zone gives you the average minimum temperature in your area. Your gardening zone will provide you with your region's number of frost-free days, average humidity, ocean effects and regional weather patterns. Having knowledge of this information will help you to determine if your selected fruit tree has a good chance of producing superior fruit, withstanding the changing climate and withstanding your climate's coldest temperatures, without damage or injury.
Consider your tree's ability to pollinate. Many fruit trees require the assistance of another fruit tree in order to pollinate. Still, some fruit trees are self-fertile and require no pollination assistance. Trees that require pollination assistance will need to have their pollinating partner resting no more than 50 feet away. If you have a limited amount of planting area, choose self-fertile trees that do not require pollination assistance. Self-fertile fruit trees include peach, European plums, apricots, figs, grapes and persimmon.
Consider how you will use and maintain your tree. If you are purchasing a fruit tree to use the fruit, you should definitely choose a fruit that you enjoy. If you intend on tying a hammock or swing on your tree, you'll need to choose a semi-standard- to standard-sized tree that can support the extra weight and movement without damage. If you want your tree to produce fruit within the first 24 months, choose a peach, nectarine or plum tree. These trees begin to produce fruit during their first blooming season. Other trees, such as apple, pear, apricot and cherry, do not produce fruit until their third or fourth blooming season. Some fruit trees require more pruning to eliminate breakage and branch collapse. These are usually trees with large fruit stones, such as peach, plums and nectarines. Carefully consider the amount of time and attention that you can pay to the tree when selecting your new addition.