How To Plant a Fruit Tree
Get step by step directions for adding a fruit tree to your landscape.
Choose a Fruit Tree
Cherries and apples thrive in cold, northern latitudes. Citrus prefer warmer climates. Depending on your region, some sort of fruit tree can beautify your landscape and provide delicious, off-the-tree snacks. You can find a fruit tree that thrives in your climate. If you're not sure what fruit trees grow in your area, ask at your local garden centre.
Choose a Location
Fruit trees love sun, so your location should provide six to eight hours of sunlight. You want soil that is rich in nutrients and retains moisture. Also, make sure that there's enough room for your tree to grow.
Plant Your Tree
Your tree will have an easier time getting established if you plant it in the spring. Dig a hole twice as wide as and no deeper than the tree's container. Gently tease the roots on the edge of the root ball then place your tree's root ball in the center of the hole. Make sure the graft line - the spot where the tree was grafted to the root stock - is above the soil; ask your garden center staff to point the graft line out. Fill in the space with a 50:50 mix of native soil and compost, like Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil. Tamp down the soil lightly to remove any air pockets in the soil. Use some of the extra soil to create a well around the tree to help funnel water to the roots and then soak thoroughly with water.
What's at Stake?
Young trees need support, so be sure to stake your new tree. Use three stakes set in a triangle approximately 1-2 m (or.4-6 ft) from the base of the tree. Run a piece of wire from each stake around the trunk about 1-1.5 m (3-4 ft) from the ground, then back to the stake, making sure the tension is equal on each wire. Wrap your wire with pieces of garden hose where it contacts the trunk to avoid chafing damage. Don't stake your tree too tight; you want to tree to be able to sway slightly.
Mulch, Feed and Water
Add a 8 cm (3") layer of mulch around the base to help your tree retain moisture. Just be sure to keep the mulch away from the graft line. Give your tree deep watering, wetting the soil 60 cm (2 ft) deep, at least once a week until it's established. Also, feed it with Miracle-Gro® Tree and Shrub Fertilizer Spikes in early spring and mid-fall.
Taking Care of your Fruit Tree
You may want to prune your fruit tree in late winter and during the first 4 or 5 years to set its structure and growth pattern. In later years, pruning will help your tree produce more fruit. For more on pruning, read our article "Pruning Trees & Shrubs." Feed your fruit trees annually, in spring and summer. Placing a small fence around the trunk will protect young trunks from mice and deer.