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Fruit Planting: Tips for Success

Trees & Shrubs

Fruit Planting:  Tips for Success

A home fruit planting carefully selected, properly located, and well managed can enhance the home landscape, provide high‑quality fruits and serve as a satisfying hobby.

The home fruit garden requires considerable care. Thus, people not willing or able to devote some time to a fruit planting will be disappointed in its harvest.

Some fruits require more care than others do. Tree fruits and grapes usually require more protection from insects and diseases than strawberries and blackberries. Generally speaking, flowers and fruits of fruit trees must be protected by pesticide sprays from before blossom‑time until harvest. In addition, sprays may be required to protect leaves, the trunk, and branches.


Pay close attention to the pollination requirements of the different fruits to avoid disappointment. Many fruits require that the flower is pollinated with pollen from a different cultivar of the same fruit or the fruit will not develop. Planting only one cultivar of these fruits often results in masses of blooms in the spring, but few or no fruits. Different strains of the same cultivar (e.g. two spur strains of ‘Delicious’) will not provide proper cross­-pollination.

Dwarf Trees

Dwarfing rootstocks enable fruit trees to be grown in much smaller areas than standard‑sized trees. The term ‘dwarfing’ refers to a tree smaller than when grown on seedling rootstocks, even if only 10 to 15 percent smaller. The degree of dwarfing varies with the rootstock. In general, semi‑vigorous rootstocks will produce a tree about 3/4 the size of a standard tree, semi‑dwarf about 1/2 sized, and fully dwarfing rootstocks produce trees 1/3 of standard size or smaller.

Tree Planting

The planting area should be well drained. On heavier soils, plant in raised beds or on soil berms to improve drainage. Fruits do best in full sun. They can tolerate partial shade, but fruit quality will be lowered

All fruit crops are subject to damage from late spring freezes. Hills, slopes or elevated areas provide better air drainage and reduce frost damages. Make certain that the air can move freely throughout the planting site and is not “boxed” in with surrounding terrain or tree borders.

Call OKIE at 811 to have your utility lines marked. Dig the hole twice the width of the root ball or container. The depth of the hole should be 3-4” shallower than the root ball. This will allow the root ball to be planted slightly higher than the surrounding soil. Backfill the hole with a mixture of 50% Back To Earth™ Composted Cotton Burrs and 50% existing soil. If you are planting in a heavy clay soil, add a 10% ratio of Soil Menders™ Expanded Shale to ensure better drainage. Tamp the soil firmly around the root ball to eliminate air pockets. Cut any twine or rope around the tree truck to prevent girdling of the truck. Do not remove the burlap from the root ball.


Immediately after planting slowly water the tree from the top of the root ball until the soil is saturated. Later in the day, water a second time using Fertilome™ Root Stimulator to stimulate early root growth and stability. This is the only fertilizer your tree will need for its first year and it should be applied every 2 weeks, even in winter, to promote healthy root growth.


Keep the grass and weeds away from your tree for at least two years to prevent competition for water and nutrients. A layer of Grade A Cypress or Grade A Cedar Mulch placed to a depth of 2 inches over the area of the hole will discourage grass growth and conserve moisture. If necessary, you may pull the mulch back to inspect the soil moisture of the root ball to determine watering needs.


Most new trees planted in Oklahoma require staking for wind protection for a minimum of two years. DeWitt™ Stake Straight Kit is excellent for tree under 2” caliper. Larger trees way require a larger stake such as a T-Post. Keep in mind the support straps need to be placed above a bottom branch and the stakes need to be in solid soil (not newly dug soil). Periodically check the staking to ensure a firm hold of the tree, but that the straps are not so tight as to cause an abrasion on the trunk.

Fertilizing and Insect – Disease Control

After the tree has been planted for one year, fertilize twice a year, in early Spring and again in early Fall, with Ferti-lome™ Fruit, Citrus, and Pecan Tree Food. Always apply as directed and remember, too much is more harmful than too little or none at all. Bonide™ Fruit Tree Spray will provide a complete spray program for insect and disease control. . Be sure to follow the label instructions fully. Periodically inspect your trees to detect insect, fungus, or environmental problems. If problems exist, please bring a sample of the damage to TLC Garden Centers for identification and recommendations.

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