Fruit trees are a long-term investment, so it’s important that they have the best possible start to life. Here are 6 common mistakes to avoid when planting fruit trees.
1. Planting At The Wrong Time of Year
Fruit trees should not be planted in the summer. Choose a dry winter’s day. Do not plant when the ground is waterlogged or frozen.
2. Using Fertiliser
Do not add fertiliser to the planting hole. The tree needs to be able to establish itself in the soil in which it will be growing without added nutrients. Fertiliser discourages the roots from growing outwards and forming an extensive root system.
3. Not Knowing The Rootstock
The rootstock determines the vigour and eventual size of the tree. This has implications for the planting distance between trees and the type of support required. Check the rootstock before you buy a tree.
4. Staking Incorrectly
Trees grafted on dwarf rootstock need a permanent support; trees on a more vigorous rootstock only require staking until the tree can support itself.
The purpose of a temporary stake is to stop the roots moving not the trunk. It is the action of the wind flexing the stem that encourages the tree to grow a strong trunk and eventually become self-supporting. The stake should be placed on the side of the prevailing wind so that the tree is blown away from it.
5. Incorrect Position of the Tie
The purpose of the tie is to catch the tree when it is swaying in the wind not to tie the tree to the stake. The tie should be quite low down the trunk to allow free movement. Check ties regularly and loosen any that are constricting the stem or causing the tree to rub against the stake.
6. Not mulching
Applying a mulch of organic material after planting will prevent weeds and grass competing with the tree for water and nutrients and help it to establish successfully.