Planting fruit trees can be one of the most rewarding plants to have as part of your garden. The following is a brief overview of what you’ll need to know when planting and growing fruit trees for yourself.

Choosing a Site for Your Fruit Tree

 Avoid planting trees in the shade or around older trees as fruit trees need to be planted in full sun to thrive. Fruit trees require well-drained soils and it is best to amend the site with compost before planting.

When to Plant Fruit Trees

Plant fruit trees as soon as possible in the late winter/early spring.

Bare Root Trees

When working with bare root trees, soak the roots in a bucket or wheelbarrow of water mixed with root stimulator for about a ½ hour. Dig the hole just large enough to accommodate roots. Fill the hole with water twice to check for drainage. If the hole has not drained within 12-24 hours find a spot with better drainage. If the native soil is heavy clay, blend one-third organic soil amendment with the backfill soil. If the soil is reasonable, just use the native soil for backfill. Form a small mound in the bottom of the hole to spread the roots over top; making sure the graft line is a couple of inches above the soil line. Fill the hole with soil. Do not put fertilizer in the hole or it may burn tender young roots. Alternatively, use a mild transplant fertilizer. Check to be sure the tree is no deeper than its original soil level as this can cause the tree to rot. Make a watering basin with extra soil. Fill the basin with water combined with root stimulator, making sure the tree is well-watered and no large air pockets are left around the roots. Paint the trunks with white latex paint to prevent sunscald.

Planting Potted Trees

Dig the hole twice as wide as the pot but no deeper. If the soil is heavy clay, amend with one-third organic soil amendment. Place the tree in the hole so it rests slightly above the surrounding soil level. Fill in the hole with backfill, building a water basin slightly wider than the root ball around the tree. Water the tree thoroughly. Paint the trunk with white latex paint to avoid sunscald.

Fertilizing and Pest Control for Planting Fruit Trees

Best growth will be accomplished with the help of fertilizers. There are many organic as well as conventional options. All fertilizers should be applied after leaf fall in autumn and again before bloom in the spring. Trees that are planted in the lawn may need more nitrogen than those planted in a garden bed. Generous amounts of lawn clippings or compost make a great substitute for a nitrogen fertilizer. Don’t let fertilizer touch the trunk of the tree.

There are many pests that target fruit trees. These include insects, bacterial infections, and fungi. All of these are treatable and can be treated throughout the year.

Harvesting Fruit Trees

Apples and sour cherries are ready for harvesting when they are easily picked from the tree. Sweet cherries, plums, prunes, and peaches will all continue to ripen after harvest. European pears should be picked while they are still green and should come off the tree easily when ready. Persimmons ripen late in the fall when they become soft. Nuts fall to the ground when mature. For best quality, gather walnuts from the ground and dry.

If you’re interested in growing fruit trees and happen to live near us in the Pacific Northwest, be sure to visit us at our Portland garden center.

A lifelong Oregon resident, Drake has been passionate about plants since childhood, beginning with propagating and growing flowers at his grandfather’s nursery. He opened Drake’s 7 Dees in 1974, while earning degrees in Business and Horticulture from Oregon State University. He later expanded into the design/build side of the industry, allowing him to combine his passion for plants with his love of family by maximizing the quality of family time spent outdoors.

Drake is co-founder of the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association and is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager (LICM)—a designation that less than two percent of landscapers have attained. Additionally, Drake serves on the Board of Directors for the Portland Japanese Gardens, widely regarded as one of the seven best Japanese gardens outside of Japan.

Drake is married to former Oregon Speaker of the House, Lynn Snodgrass. Together, he and Lynn received the Farm Bureau President’s award in 1999 for their service and dedication to agriculture in the state of Oregon. Drake and Lynn have two wonderful daughters, two talented son-in-laws, and seven grandchildren. In his spare time, Drake enjoys camping, water and snow skiing, reading, and of course, gardening.