How to Plant Fruit Trees in Late Fall

How to Plant Fruit Trees in Late Fall

When most people think of fruit trees, they automatically picture hot summer days. Ironically though, the best time to plant fruit trees is in the late fall or early winter. This is because the roots have time to grow during the winter, leaving us with greater tree growth throughout the first season. In the end, this leads to larger trees.

But how do you know you’re planting those trees correctly? Just follow these basic steps.

1. Start with fertile soil.

To begin growing your fruit tree, pick out a well-drained, sunny spot with fertile soil. A fruit tree will die if the root zone is placed in saturated soil for more than three days. For those without a well-drained area, plant the tree in a raised bed. Typically, beds are created by shaping well-drained topsoil into hills 18-24 inches high and 4-5 wide. Trees grown in raised beds need to be irrigated more often during the growing season.  Once you scope out a well-drained site, plant the tree directly into the ground. Then, dig a hole that is twice the size of the root system. It is crucial that the sides of the holes are loose, and not packed shut with a shovel.

2. Cut off damaged roots.

You will need to cut off those damaged roots at the location of injury. Shorten roots that are very long will not fit in the hole. Roots that are shortened will wrap around the tree hole, eventually tying the root system together. This will reduce tree growth in later years. If you end up planting a grafted fruit tree, make sure that the graft union is 2 inches above the soil. When the graft union is below the soil surface, the scion will grow roots, destroying the grafted root system.

3. Go native!

When you are done putting the fruit tree in place, fill the hole with native soil. We recommend that you do not use potting soil. Instead, add organic mulch to the soil, because this increases growth when mixed well together.  However, never add fertilizer to the planting hole. Fertilizer will burn and kill the roots of young trees. Once the hole is filled, water the area well.  This will ultimately leave you with a healthy and growing fruit tree.

Any tips for planting fruit trees? Tell us in the comments below!

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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