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Planting bare root fruit trees in the landscape

Cherry trees blossom
Danielle Hughson

Adding a fruit tree on your property allows you to harvest fresh pears, apples or cherries in coming years. Fruit trees are ornamental;producing beautiful spring blooms. Fall and winter is an appropriate time to plant bare root trees in many areas. Some trees will require a few years to produce fruit, depending on the maturity of the tree when planted, but it is worth the wait.

Fruit bearing trees on your property often add to its value. If you expect to live there for an extended time, planting a fruit tree or more than one may benefit you in several ways:

• Fresh, Wholesome Fruit

• Saving Money

• Chance of Abundant Harvest

Planting Bare Root Trees

Bare root simply means the trees have grown in the ground somewhere else and were dug up to be re-planted. Roots have likely gone through a pruning process throughout their lifespan to make them more compact.

Bare root fruit trees should be planted in late autumn, winter or early spring, during their period of dormancy. The exact timing will vary by your USDA Zone. When planted during dormancy, roots become established while leaf growth is not competing for the tree's nutrients.

Decide on a planting spot before you buy the fruit trees. Full sun is necessary for most fruit production. The site of your orchard should not be shaded by nearby trees or buildings.

Digging the Holes

Dig the holes partially before planting, or dig them once the tree has arrived. Each hole will be sized according to the size of the roots, twice the width. According to the University of California, depth should be just to the crown of the plants. If there is a graft union visible, this should be above the soil when planted. Place the graft union facing northeast.

Soak bare root trees for a few hours before planting. Ease out roots that are circling, if any and carefully prune broken or otherwise damaged roots.

When planting the tree, fill the hole with the same soil (back fill) which was removed. Adding soil of a different consistency at this time can cause problems for the transplant. After the first addition of soil, gently firm it down around the roots to avoid air pockets. Repeat this process until soil is at crown level, sloping downward on the outside of the hole. Water in slowly. When the soil is watered in, settling to below the crown may require the addition of more back fill.

Water and Weeding

Keep newly planted trees moist and weed-free until they become established. Use coarse, organic mulch to help retain moisture and slow weed growth. Mulch should be applied several inches away from the trunk of the transplant. The root ball area should never be soggy. Weeding by hand is preferable during the first months of growth.

Successful bare root trees produce fruit more quickly than those grown from seed. Consider them as a possibility for producing more food for your family and increasing the value of your property.

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