How to Grow Huge Fruit Trees

Overview

Though most modern gardeners grow dwarf varieties of fruit trees, there are advantages to having large specimens. They do double duty by providing shade as well as fruit, and the amount of fruit, of course, is greater. Be ready to climb a ladder at harvest time, though, because the fruit is much higher up.

Step 1

If you want a large tree, start with the right varieties. Peaches are smaller than apples and not as long-living. Cherries are tall, but you may find that the birds get all the fruit. Look for "standard" trees, not "dwarf" or "semi-dwarf." Find out the average size of the variety you select. Apples, for instance, come in hundreds of varieties, both new and old, and each tree will have a slightly different growth habit.

Step 2

If you buy locally, look for a tree with a strong leader (main shoot) and few side branches. You want to encourage the tree to go up and branch fairly high above the ground. Many nurseries will prune back the leader to encourage low branches, so you may have to request an unpruned tree.

Step 3

After planting, fertilize regularly, about once a month, with 10-10-10 fertilizer throughout spring and early summer. Do not apply fertilizer after August 1.

Step 4

The next spring after planting, choose some of the new branches to be the basic framework of your large tree. Remove all other branches to encourage these to grow more strongly. Continue to fertilize regularly.

Step 5

Each year after that, prune to encourage a tall, broad tree, removing lower branches that do not contribute to that silhouette.

Tips and Warnings

  • Be sure to give your new tree plenty of water. Established fruit trees, especially apples, can take a bit of drought, but plenty of water encourages a strong root system, the first step to growing a large tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Fruit tree sapling
  • Pruning shears
  • 10-10-10 fertilizer
Keywords: large fruit trees, growing fruit trees, standard fruit trees

About this Author

Over the past 30 years, Mara Grey has sold plants in nurseries, designed gardens and volunteered as a Master Gardener. She is the author of "The Lazy Gardener" and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Flower Gardening" and has a Bachelor of Science in botany.