A well maintained, healthy fruit tree will provide many years of edible treats. Although the finished product varies by selection, the care of most fruit trees is relatively similar.
Select a planting location for your tree. The location should provide the tree with at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day. The area should also be well ventilated and provide ample space for the tree to grow and thrive. Avoid planting your fruit tree too close to other trees or buildings; the root system needs significant room to spread and will invade and choke underground components, such as pipelines and septic systems.
Prepare you tree's new home. Dig a circular hole for the tree that is big enough to allow the tree's entire root system to rest comfortably. The root system should not touch the outer edges of the circle. The hole must also be deep enough to allow the tree's graft union to rest approximately 2 to 3 inches above the surface.
Never fill the hole with fertilizer. This may cause root burn and stunt growth. If the soil lacks nutrients or is of poor quality, mix the soil with peat moss or compost at a 50/50 ratio. Pack the soil firmly around the base of the tree to ensure its stability.
Water your fruit tree regularly. Younger fruit trees will require a heavier watering schedule than mature trees. The average fruit tree requires an average of 30 to 50 gallons of water each week during its growing period. Increase your watering schedule during the dry summer months and decrease it during the spring and fall. Some fruit trees require more watering than others. Take your tree selection into account when developing your watering routine.
Fertilize your tree regularly in the early spring through mid summer. The fertilizer should include a combination of potassium, phosphorous, and micronutrients. It should also contain higher levels of nitrogen. The fertilizer application should occur approximately every two to four weeks, based on your tree selection. Avoid fertilizing in the late summer months.
Prune your young fruit tree to develop its shape. Trim the central leader to promote upright growth and a sound structure. Cut back wildly growing branches to train the tree's canopy development. The branches of fruit trees must be able to carry the weight of developing fruit. As the tree grows, prune away any dead or dying leaves, stems or branches. This will promote new growth and prevent disease and infection.
Harvest your fruit tree as the fruit begins to ripen. Many fruit trees do not have an exact harvesting time. After the blooming period, watch the fruit's development. Check the fruit often towards the end of the summer. When the fruit begins to take on its intended color and shape, it will soon be time to harvest. Pick a piece of fruit from the tree and sample it. This is the best way to determine the tree's harvesting period. If the fruit is sweet and edible, harvest the fruit. Remove any dropped fruit from around the base of the tree. This will prevent decay and insect infestation.