Written by Joshua Duvauchelle and published on https://homeguides.sfgate.com.
Fruit trees need full sun to thrive. Most also must have well-drained soil, though apples, pears, and plums are somewhat more tolerant of less-than-ideal conditions. If poor drainage is a serious problem, plant your trees in raised beds.
Deciduous fruit trees are sold bare-root during the dormant season and containerized throughout the growing season. Plant bare-root trees as soon as possible after purchase.
Though fruit trees often prosper with only minimal care, paying attention to their needs will reward you with a larger, more flavorful crop.
How to Take Care of Young Fruit Trees
Growing backyard fruit trees ranks as one of the most popular gardening pastimes in America. It lets you pick and choose your favorite kind of fruit from the hundreds of varieties available, and gives you full control over how your food is raised. While specific care guidelines vary widely depending on the exact kind of fruit tree you’re raising, several general strategies and tips can help you successfully care for any young fruit tree after you’ve planted it in your yard.
1. Water young fruit tree once every other week. Most fruit trees require that you apply enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of 3 to 4 feet. This is the depth at which most fruit trees extend their roots.
2. Fertilize your young fruit tree once every year, applying fertilizer in the spring before the tree starts producing new growth. In its first year, use 1/10 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer, then increase by 1/10 pound every year thereafter. Spread the fertilizer in a band around the fruit tree, approximately 2 feet from the tree’s trunk. Water immediately after fertilization to help carry the fertilizer’s nutrients down to your fruit tree’s roots.
3. Trim your young fruit tree with pruning shears. Immediately after planting it, cut the top of the tree off at approximately 3 feet of height. In the first summer after you’ve planted it, identify four uniformly spaced-apart branches on its trunk and remove all other branches or sprouts. In every winter thereafter, trim back new growth when the tree is dormant. The amount of new growth that needs trimming varies significantly by fruit variety. For example, an apple tree needs less than a quarter of its new growth removed while nectarines need half of all its new growth cut. Consult your local cooperative extension service for fruit-specific guidelines.
4. Keep your young fruit tree pest- and disease-free using preventive orchard care. Weed regularly, because weeds often harbor pests and disease while stealing soil nutrients and water. Additionally, always pick up and discard any fallen fruit, rake and remove fallen weeds often, and trim off any dead branches as those often attract rot-related diseases.
5. Treat the fruit tree if pests or diseases occur. There are dozens of such potential problems, depending on your region and the type of fruit you have. In most cases, a standard 50 percent concentration copper spray, available in most garden stores and nurseries, resolves the most common fruit tree diseases. Meanwhile, insecticidal soap treats most common pests like aphids and mites. Apply such products according to their manufacturer-specific guidelines, as toxicity varies widely by product.
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