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How to Plant Fruit Trees & Bushes

Buying and planting fruit trees and bushes

 

Jump to:-      When to buy      |  How to plant bare rooted trees and bushes   | 
How to plant container grown trees and bushes  |  How to plant trees in containers

 

Planing TreesIn general,  fruit trees are a long term crop and most will last for many years if looked after properly.  Apart from ensuring you buy trees from a reputable source,  immediate care is required, starting with how the tree is put into the ground. Incorrect planting can cause problems in the future - from low yields to the death of the tree. 

Below is some information to ensure you get your new fruit trees or bushes off to the best start possible.

 

When to Buy fruit trees and bushes

Trees and bushes are sold in two forms - bare rooted, where the plant has been dug up from a nursery and most of the soil removed before it's sold and container grown specimens.

Bare Rooted items - Trees and bushes are usually available in Autumn or Spring and should be planted as soon as possible so long as the ground is not frozen or waterlogged.

Container Grown items - In theory, container grown/sold trees and bushes can be sold and planted at any time of year although in practise, it's likely the choice of varieties may be lessened. More choice is usually available in the late autumn/spring and many outlets will sell bare rooted specimens as well as pot grown specimens so, in general, it's best to wait until the autumn/spring to buy or order fruit trees and bushes.

For more information about where to buy fruit trees and bushes see Buying Seed and Plants

How to plant free standing bare rooted fruit trees and bushes

Bare Rooted items - Trees and bushes are usually available in Autumn or Spring and should be planted as soon as possible so long as the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. The roots must be kept moist before planting so if you can't plant them straight away due to bad weather conditions, keep the roots wrapped in thick hessian to prevent them drying out too much.

Soak RootsSoak the roots in water for 3-6 hours before planting. Prepare the ground before planting by forking in a general fertiliser such as Growmore. Do not add fresh manure at planting time as this can damage the roots.

Dig HoleDig a large hole wide enough to take the roots when spread out and deep enough to take the whole root system and fork over the bottom of the hole. You should be able to see signs on the tree of the original soil depth on the tree stem. Care must be taken not to plant the tree so deep as to bury the union between the rootstock and scion  (the  knobbly  bit).

Stake and PositionIf planting a free standing tree, drive in a sturdy wooden stake which should be as tall as the stem of the tree at least 30cm/12" into the ground in the hole. Stand the tree in the hole, spreading out the roots or bare-rooted specimens, tie to the stake.

Fill HoleFill in the hole with soil, slightly rocking the tree between each spadeful so the earth falls between the roots, firming gently as you go, until the hole is filled to the top.

Water in well.

How to plant bare rooted fruit trees against a wall

If planting against  a wall, fix the supports and wires to the wall before you plant the tree.

Dig a large hole wide enough to take the roots when spread out and deep enough to take the whole root system about 30cm/1ft away from the wall and slightly sloping away from the wall. Fork over the soil in the bottom of the hole .You should be able to see signs on the tree of the original soil depth on the tree stem. Care must be taken not to plant the tree so deep as to bury the union between the rootstock and scion  (the  knobbly  bit).

Stand the tree in the hole, spreading out the roots or bare-rooted specimens, tilting it slightly towards the wall, then fill in the hole with soil, slightly rocking the tree between each spadeful so the earth falls between the roots, firming gently as you go, until the hole is filled to the top. Water in well.

How to plant container grown fruit trees and bushes

Container grown items - Trees and bushes are often available all year and should be planted as soon as possible so long as the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. The soil should be kept relatively moist before planting.

Carefully remove the tree from its pot and gently tease some of the roots out, especially if they are winding around the bottom of the container, but be careful not to break the larger roots.

Dig a hole  deep enough to accommodate the root ball up to the same depth as it was in the container, and wide enough to allow  at lest 7.5cm/3-inches all the way round. Back fill the gap, firming gently as you go, until the hole is filled to the top. Water in well.

How to plant  fruit trees and bushes in containers

Good drainage is essential so make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom of the container. See the individual fruit growing pages for the size of container needed.

Place a 2.5cm/1" layer of stones or crocks in the bottom and cover with enough soil or compost so that when you place the tree in the container, the original planting depth (which you should be able to see on the stem of the tree)  is 5cm/2" below the top of the container. Fill the container with soil or a loam based compost to the original planting depth. Firm well and water in.

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