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Fruit tree planting tips

When and where to plant fruit trees

  • Deciduous fruit trees (such as pears, apples, peaches and plums) are best planted in winter when they can be purchased bare rooted.
  • Evergreen fruit trees (such as lemons, oranges and cumquats) should be planted in spring when the soil has warmed up.
  • All fruit trees require plenty of sun and good drainage.
  • Remember to select dwarf varieties if you have a small space. 
  • Be aware that some fruit trees require cross pollination, i.e. two apple trees. Ask at your local garden centre before you buy one as you may need two.

Planting techniques

Potted plants

Choose well-shaped plants that have not outgrown their pot size

Bare rotted plants

Trim bare rooted trees by about a third, removing any weak, damaged or overlapping growth. Check for damaged or diseased roots and trim back.

All plants

  • Soak the plant in a bucket of water for about two hours prior to planting. A mild seaweed solution or compost tea can also be added.
  • Dig a hole in the prepared soil the equivalent depth of the plant pot and twice the width. Use a stick to check the depth. The hole should have rough edges.
  • Fill the hole with water and allow it to drain naturally.
  • Place the plant in the hole and backfill taking care not to plant about the existing root ball level.
  • Water well. Do not 'heel in' (stomp around the roots) as watering will remove air pockets.
  • Mulch, but ensure the mulch is pulled back from the truck of the plant to prevent collar rot.
  • For every tree and shrub you plant consider the insects or birds needed to support it. For example, flowering fruit trees need pollinating insects, so provide some habitat and food plants for them.

Preventing problems for fruit trees

  • Take care not to overfeed your trees with high nitrogen fertiliser as this produces soft sappy growth that easily succumbs to pests and diseases.
  • To avoid fungal diseases in your fruit trees, don't water the canopy. Apply water via drip lines.
  • Treat deciduous stone fruit trees with a winter wash to break any disease cycle.  For more information on winter, wash visit the Sustainable Gardening Australia website.

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