Did you know that winter is the best time to plant hardy fruit trees? Planting from mid Dec through February, when fruit trees are dormant, is less stressful for trees and helps to reduce transplant shock. This time period also gives roots the time it needs to develop healthy, strong roots before the heat of Texas summer rolls in. Inventory is good at the nursery this time of year, so take a look at a few things you should know about growing hardy fruit trees before you buy, then come on in and make your selections.
What You Need to Know Before Buying Hardy Fruit Trees
It can be exciting but also overwhelming when you see all the fruit tree varieties available. We can easily get caught up in the visions of plums or other fruit dancing in our heads. Here’s the thing you need to remember. Buy only recommended varieties for the area you live in. There will be other varieties available as nurseries cater to multiple types of growers, but for the best chance at success, stick with fruit trees that are known for doing well in your area. You can see a recommended list from TAMU Agrilife Extension Service here.
While you don’t have to plan for a fruit tree orchard when you are just starting off, you most likely will need more than one variety of fruit tree. Cross pollination is required for many fruits to produce an adequate harvest. Even fruit trees that are listed as self-fertile still always produce a better harvest with another variety to cross pollinate with. You can see a list of varieties and cross pollinator recommendations here.
Hardy fruit trees need space to grow, a lot of space. And remember, you are most likely going to need two of them, so double that space. Most fruit trees require a 25′ x 25′ space at least; you need to give them space to grow to their full potential. Crowded fruit trees won’t produce an adequate harvest, and can cause introduce other problems such as disease and pest issues as well. You can find some dwarf varieties from time to time, but in general, you need to calculate ample space to grow fruit.
Years to harvest varies with different types of fruit trees, but you’ll need to be realistic when it comes to waiting for a really good harvest. Some fruit trees take only 2-3 years, while others can take 8-10. Make sure you do your research so that you are aware of when to expect a full harvest so you won’t be disappointed. It’s also recommended to remove any fruit the first year (sometimes the 2nd too) so that all energy can be focused on establishing a strong root system for healthy growth.
When you’re ready to plant your fruit, I highly recommend the TAMU Agrilife website for information about planting fruit trees and their care needs. You can read up on specific varieties and make an educated decision on which fruit trees would be the perfect ones for you to grow in your landscape. There’s nothing quite like biting into a juicy piece of homegrown fruit fresh from your very own tree!
~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy