Planting your Fruit Trees
We supply bare-root trees from November until March. For your tree to get away to a good start a little preparation is advisable.
You will have received your trees within a polythene bag and their roots will be damp. You can always redampen by dunking in a tub of water or spraying over with a watering can. Ensure the roots remain damp by keeping within polythene bags as you prepare the site and the planting hole.
Avoid planting in extremely wet conditions or when the ground is frozen. In these cases the trees can be kept temporarily within the polythene bag they came in until conditions improve. If planting is going to be delayed more than a few days trench into some available soil ensuring good soil contact with the roots.
The planting hole
Dig the planting hole a little larger than the root system. A good guide is a square sided hole each side about two spade widths wide and a spit deep. Remove any large stones and vegatation. The hole should be able to comfortably accomodate the roots. Avoid curling the the roots back on themselves. If roots are very long reduce them a little. Fork over the bottom of the hole.
Staking & Tieing
If growing as bush trees ideally stake & tie except in very sheltered sites. Trees on dwarfing M9 rootstock will need permanent staking. We suggest using a short stake 1.2-1.5m / 4-5′ tall inserted vertically at planting on the windward side. The aim is to hold the roots firm as they establish but allow the upper part of the tree to move in any wind which will strengthen the tree in the longer term. We supply a selection of stakes at the nursery for collection by customers but generally do not deliver them. You should be able to obtain locally for a DIY shed or similar. We can supply tree ties – buckle ties or soft tree ties with any delivery.
Once you have dug your hole place the roots within it. Offer up your stake to the tree close to the trunk passing it through a suitable gap in the roots. Release the tree and bang in your stake until firm.
You should aim to plant your tree at the same height as it was planted in the nursery with the graft union clear of soil level and the roots starting to arise at soil level. To assist with this lay a stick or a cane across the hole. Back-fill ensuring no air pockets are left between the roots consolidating the soil as you go along. To do this break down the excavated soil as finely as you can. Return the soil gradually, filtering through the roots. During the process occasionally shake the tree up and down to help further settle the soil around the roots.
Use this shaking process to obtain the correct planting depth againest your stick or cane, or by eye, ensuring the roots will all be below soil level. Once the majority of the roots have been covered gently firm the surrounding soil backfilled soil with your foot. Be careful not to overfirm. Continue to backfill until soil level with surrounding ground and gently firm for a final time.
Finish the job by attaching your tree tie. If rabbits are present fit a guard on the same day as planting. We supply two types of guard – transparent spiral guards or black mesh Flexguards.
To improve the soil or not?
We are often asked this question! Generally we say not to improve the soil with compost or manure. The trees have come out of soil so are quite adapted to going straight back into soil. Just plant correctly ensuring as good soil contact with the trees roots as possible. You want to encourage the roots to grow out into the surrounding soil.
Situations where the addition of compost may be sensible include where the soil is very heavy to improve drainage. If the soil is on the alkaline side – in limestone or chalk areas compost will help to acidify the soil. The ideal ph for fruit trees is about 6.5-6.7 – slightly on the acid side of neutral.
If the soil has had trees (or larger shrubs) where you are going to plant any new trees try replacing the excavated soil with some fresh topsoil from elsewhere and consider applying Mycorrhizal fungi – see below, to the roots.
Most plants have developed successful relationships with mycorrhizal soil fungi that live on their roots. Mycorrhiza means ‘fungus root’ and over 85% of land plants form mycorrhizal partnerships which benefits both partners. The fungi grow into the plants roots providing it with nutrients, the plants in turn provide the fungi with sugars that allow it to grow further outwards in a network called mycelium. In effect the plants root surface area is hugely increased enabling it to exploit far more nutrients and water. These soil fungi are naturally in the soil and constantly developing relationships with the plants we grow.
This sounds great and it gets even better! These mycorrhizal fungi are available to us as granules that can be either sprinkled onto damp roots or made into a dipping gel. They are available to use on a vast range of plants so these granules contain several fungal species, meaning that one or more will colonise your newly planted trees providing it with a fully functioning fungi community helping the trees to establish.
As mentioned these fungi are naturally in the soil anyway and newly planted trees will naturally build up mycorrhizal relationships. The use of packeted granules should speed up that partnership.
The application of Mycorrhizal fungi
We supply two mycorrhizal products – packets of granules enough for 5-8 trees & larger granules+Gel packets suitable for 20-25 trees. The packets have clear instructions but below we show the use of both products when planting fruit trees. With both products it is important that the granules are in contact with the roots before planting.
GRANULES – redampen roots by dipping in a bucket of water or spraying water over roots. Lay a plastic sheet on the ground or use a large bucket. Sprinkle the granules onto the roots. Any that do not stick to the roots & pass through can be gathered and reused.
GRANULES+GEL – mix as instructed on packet into 4 litres of water using as large as possible bucket that will accept tree roots. Because the mix will be quite shallow in your bucket use a large spoon to ladle the mix over the uncovered roots.
Water in if possible unless rain imminent. During the first season ensure the tree is well watered during dry spells, and remove any weed competition within a diameter of about 1m (3ft). The application of a compost or manure mulch is a good idea. This has several benefits – suppresses weed competition, feeds the soil gradually & improves water conservation in dry spells.
Download Our Free Leaflet
We produce a leaflet which accompanies any order and is downloadable here which details many aspects of planting and growing fruit trees.