Buying fruit trees – what to consider
Adding fruit trees to your garden is a great idea; not only do fruit trees give you attractive blossom as early as February or March for plums, or spring for apples and pears, they also add height to your garden and of course, give you lots of harvestable fruit later in the year.
When can I harvest my fruit trees?
By adding fruit trees into your garden – either in the ground or in containers you can be picking fruit from as early as July through to November. In a mild autumn this can extend into December.
Pears- September- October
Where shall I plant my fruit trees?
The ideal conditions for fruit tree are;
- Full sun – to ripen the fruitlets as they grow
- Not too exposed – ideally sheltered by nearby hedges, houses
- Not too near to existing established trees or shrubs - they will compete for water and light.
- In nutrient-rich, well-draining soil – such as a good John Innes 3 based-compost
Other things to consider?
Flowering periods of apples
Fruit tree varieties like apples are divided into groups based on when they flower. In order to produce fruit, the flowers on the tree need to be pollinated. Some trees are self-fertile and don’t need another fruit variety close-by for them to produce fruit.
Other apple tree varieties need a neighbouring fruit tree flowering at the same time for flowers to successfully turn into fruits.
Apples – self fertile
Apples- Flowering Group 2 (Grow any of these together for successful fruiting)
St Edmund’s Pippin
Apples- Flowering Group 3 (Grow any of these together for successful fruiting)
Apples- Flowering Group 4 (Grow any of these together for successful fruiting)
It’s really rewarding to introduce fruit trees into your garden and there’s a fruit tree suited for any garden, whatever its size, thanks to the availability of different rootstocks.
A rootstock is simply made up of the roots and bottom part of the main trunk of a particular tree. Together the roots and bottom part of the trunk determine the eventual height of the fruit tree along with its vigour.
Our specialist growers then combine another variety of fruit which produces the leaves, flowers and fruit onto the rootstock. This means you can choose and order from many fruit varieties, growing at different heights suited for your outdoor space.
Here are a list of rootstocks to look out for and the planting situations that best suit them.
M27 – Extra dwarfing- great for containers and small spaces including balconies
M9- Very dwarfing – great for small gardens
M26- Dwarfing – good for an average-sized garden
MM106- Semi-dwarfing – despite its name, better for large gardens where you have lots of space
Read more on rootstocks here
How do I plant a bare-rooted fruit tree?
Planting time: November to March
Preparing the soil: The soil should be thoroughly dug and, at the same time, incorporate some bulky compost or Organic Extra Manure, and a feed of Fish, Blood & Bone. Make sure any deep rooted perennial weeds are removed with a fork, or shallow-rooted weeds which you can remove with a hoe.
Most top fruit varieties will tolerate a wide range of soil types, especially when you incorporate manure into the soil to increase its fertility and improve its texture.
Planting method: Dig a planting hole 15cm (6in) wider than the root system once it has been spread out, and to a depth whereby the soil mark from the nursery on the stem of the young tree will be just covered. This should mean that the graft union (the knobbly part at the base of the stem) is about is 12-15cm (5-6in) above soil level when you have finished planting.
Fork into the sides of the hole which will encourage the roots to penetrate the surrounding soil and establish well.
If you want to add a tree-stake for stabilising the tree in a windy site, bang it into the hole before the tree is planted, so you don’t damage roots by tapping in the stake after the young tree has been planted.
After placing the tree in the hole, spread out the roots and add layers of soil, firming down with your foot. Repeat until you’ve filled the hole with soil. The tree should be firm enough in the soil that it does not up-root when you pull the main stem and it shows resistance.
Water the area generously after planting and add a layer of warming and moisture-locking mulch around the tree, making sure that the mulch does not come into direct contact with the main stem.
If you have added a stake, tie to the tree by means of a tree tie ensuring that it’s firmly attached but allows a small degree of movement.
How do I plant a containerised fruit-tree?
Before planting soak the rootball of your containerised tree with water and some fertiliser such as rose-fertiliser; this will give it a great head start when it comes to growing in its new environment.
Dig a hole to about 7-10cm (3-4 in) bigger than the dimensions of the rootball and pierce the sides of the hole with a garden fork. This will encourage the roots within the rootball to grow into the surrounding soil. Place a layer of Organic Extra at the bottom of the hole to give the newly planted tree a good head start in its new soil environment.
Take the root-ball out of the original container and place it in the hole. NB - The top of the rootball should be flush with the level of the ground. If the top of the rootball comes lower than this add more organic matter to the bottom of the hole until it the top of the rootball becomes flush with the ground.
Fill the sides with a mixture of dug-out soil and organic matter, compressing the soil around the tree gently with your foot – this will anchor it sufficiently into the soil. After planting it should resist when you pull up the main stem gently.
Water the soil well around the tree especially if planting in warm and windy weather. In winter this initial watering should be enough. If planting containerised trees in summer water well in mornings and evenings for a week or so.