A well-maintained fruit tree will give its owner abundant fruit, cooling shade and a study foundation for a hammock or swing. Healthy fruit trees are sturdy landscape amendments that can provide decades of enjoyment. Raising a healthy fruit tree requires diligence and some basic steps. The fruit tree will reward you for your time with plentiful fruit and beauty.
Growing Your Fruit Tree
Plant your fruit tree in a hole that is at least 18 inches deep. Make sure that the area gets at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day and has ample irrigation for soil drainage. The acidity level of your tree's soil should rest between 6.5 and 6.8. Aerate the soil before planting.
Mulch the fruit tree around its diameter to protect the tree's moisture and nutrients. Mulching will also protect the tree from grass and weeds that may compete with the tree. Apply two to four inches of mulch but keep the mulch at least six inches from the trunk of the tree.
Prune your tree regularly. Although many mature fruit trees require limited pruning, most young fruit trees of all variations require bi-seasonal pruning for the first several years. Pruning your tree helps develop the tree's natural shape and strong branches to support the fruit. Prune the branches and stems of the tree to promote the growth of the leader, but do not prune the leader.
Watch your tree's growth and fruit production. If the fruit size or quality is below expectations, thin the tree to promote aeration and more vigorous growth. Thinning involves removing large amounts of fruit from the tree before it is ready to harvest. Completing this process in the early spring is ideal. This will allow your tree ample time to produce more fruit before the end of the season.
Water your tree regularly to ensure proper hydration. Adjust the irrigation based on the tree's age, needs and planting climate. As a general rule, younger fruit trees require less water than mature trees but require more frequent watering sessions than mature ones. Younger trees have more incomplete rooting systems. The tree's growth is promoted by frequent watering sessions that penetrate the rooting systems deep into the soil. Mature trees have developed rooting systems that can absorb and hold large amounts of water that is slowly released as the tree requires it. Increase your watering schedule during dry, hot periods and decrease the schedule during wet, rainy periods.
Fertilize your fruit tree during the early spring. Most healthy fruit trees do not require fertilizer to produce fruit. However, a fertilized fruit tree will enjoy more vigorous growth and produce maximum quality fruit. Use organic or synthetic nitrogen fertilizer in a 10-10-10 combination. A slow release nitrogen fertilizer is ideal. Incorporate the fertilizer into the soil surrounding the tree. Keep the fertilizer at least six inches from the trunk of the tree.