Autumn is the traditional time of year to plant fruit trees. Apples are always a popular choice. With more than 2000 cultivars to choose from in the UK, there is a tree to suit every garden and every palate. Once established, a tree will produce fruit year after year and provide an important source of food and shelter for birds and insects.
Buying a fruit tree is a long term investment, so it is important to purchase them from a reputable tree nursery that can advise on the right tree for your orchard or garden. Trees are sold as bare-root or container-grown. Most experts would advise buying trees bare-root, but what is the difference?
- Bare-root trees are more economical. They can be 30% – 50% cheaper than container grown trees.
- They have a limited season. Bare-root trees are only available between November and March when the tree is dormant.
- They must be planted as soon as possible after purchase.
- If it is not possible to plant the tree straight away, it should be heeled in [planted temporarily in a shallow trench] to prevent the roots drying out.
- Tree nurseries tend to stock a larger selection of bare-root fruit trees. If your heart is set on a specific cultivar, bare-root may be the only option.
- They are usually sold as one year old trees, referred to as maidens. They will have had very little pruning, if any. If you are planning to grow a specialised form, such as an espalier or fan, bare-root is the best option.
- Bare-rooted trees have had unrestricted growth and often establish better than those grown in containers.
Container Grown Trees
- Pot grown trees are propagated in the container in which they are sold.
- They can be purchased all year round.
- Container grown trees have a longer planting season between September and May.
- With correct care, the trees can be kept in the container until they are ready to be planted.
- Pot-grown trees can be 2 or 3 years old and will have received some initial formative pruning.