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Fruit Trees: Planting, Watering, Fertilizing and Organic Pest Control

Fruit trees are not only beautiful additions to any landscape but once they start producing! How wonderful to walk to your backyard and pick delicious, organic fruit for your family! This guide shows how you can properly plant and care for fruit trees to keep them healthy, happy, and productive.

Two ripe pears on a branch in the orchard

Location

Full sun is vital to fruit trees’ survival. Also important is well-drained soil. Certain varieties are more forgiving of less-than-perfect conditions. Pears, plums, and apples will put up with somewhat poor drainage and less than full sun.

Planting

Fruit trees that drop their leaves every year (deciduous trees) are usually sold in containers during the growing season and bare-root during the dormant season. It’s very important to the health of your fruit trees that you plant bare-root trees as soon as you can after buying them.

Dig the hole about twice as large as the container or “root ball” of your tree. Make sure to fill in the hole with a mix of native soil and the soil building compost. Cover the top with 2-3 inches of compost or mulch. If your soil is very clay-like, you may need to add some gypsum to the hole as well. Most fruit trees are pretty low-maintenance once they’re established, but if you pay attention to them and provide proper care you’ll get a more abundant, flavorful harvest.

little orange tree in a pot

Fertilizing

It’s common practice for commercial fruit tree growers to regularly fertilize their trees. If you’re a backyard grower, it’s likely your trees only need a bit of fertilizer now and again, according to most home growers. Pay attention to your trees’ growth. If they’re growing well, they’re getting all the nutrients they need and fertilization is unnecessary. If they’re not doing so well, apply a high-nitrogen organic fertilizer in the early spring to give them a needed boost. However, if they continue to grow poorly, you may have soil that is deficient in other nutrients. You can get your soil professionally tested and then follow the lab’s suggestions. Your trees should be thriving in no time!

Diseases & Pests

As with any plant, fruit trees can be hit by diseases and pests. If you have deciduous fruit trees, apply an organic oil spray during the dormant (leafless) season. Usually 2-3 times a year in November – January for climates similar to Southern California. For climates with longer winters, February – March. The oil eliminates the pests and any overwintering eggs. Your local Cooperative Extension Office or nursery/garden center can give you more detailed advice on fruit tree disease and pest identification and what to do about them.

We highly recommend adding fruit trees to your landscape. The payoff in fresh, organic fruit is worth the effort!


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Close up of a pair tree with text, "4 steps to care for your fruit tree"
Close up of a potted lemon tree with text, "Taking care of fruit trees, beginners guide"

4 Comments

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  1. My wife and I have been thinking about getting about getting some fruit trees in our yard so that we can grow our own things. We would really like to get some help from a professional to know what we can do to care for it ad help them grow. I liked what you said about how we can get a juicer crop from a deep soaking that is every once in a while and keep some space between the tree and the mulch.

  2. Thank you so much for informing me that the soil needs to be well-draining for most fruit trees. About a week ago, I was talking to my sister, and she mentioned that she really wants to start incorporating food-bearing plants into her landscaping. I wonder if there are products and services that can help her get started!

    • Hi Greta! We are so pleased that you found this article useful. Going to the local county extension office is a great way to learn about growing in a local area, they can give your sister information on soil composition, plants, and pests. A local landscaping professional that specializes in sustainable and edible landscapes would be good too. You can ask around at a trusted local nursery for some referrals to landscape professionals and another great way to find them is through a local gardening group. Facebook has a lot of local gardening groups, in the search box on Facebook put in your town and the word garden and some groups should pop up.

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