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Capitol Corridor

Time to Plant Bare Root Fruit Trees

photos by Breanda Altman

Spring is springing!  In a month it will be officially spring! The cherry, prunes, and pluots are all in agreement it's happening soon.  In anticipation of spring, I planted 2 bare root trees, a dwarf peach and a persimmon. The best time to plant bare root fruit trees is the dormant season, late winter through early spring.  You may still be able to plant a bare root tree. 

I prefer bare root fruit trees for a number of reasons: they're less expensive; they're not as heavy or cumbersome: and, the roots haven't been circling in a pot.  I paid for two trees for the price of one and a half.  I was able to easily lift the trees and soil and put them in the trunk of my car. When I got ready to plant them, I just shook the dirt medium off and carefully combed the roots so they weren't crossing. Easy Peasy! Yeah!

Fruit tree labels.

Before you buy any tree, plan where you will plant it.  Make sure there is well-drained soil. If the soil is not well-drained, you will have to amend it and perhaps plant the tree a little above the ground.  Pick a location with plenty of sun 6 plus hours a day.  Don't plant the tree too close to existing trees or shrubs.  Envision a mature tree spreading its branches when picking a spot. 

I have very hard clay and it were to plop down a tree into a hole with clay all around it would have a hard time establishing its roots.  I chose to dig a large hole (wide but not deep).  Make sure the soil is high enough so the root crown (root flare) would be slightly above the level ground.  It's better to be slightly above the ground rather than burying the root crown.  You can always add soil if you have too many exposed roots. The planting hole should be wide enough plus 6” to 12” for the existing roots to grow.  Place the tree in the hole cover the roots with an inch or two of soil and soak the soil.  Finish covering the roots to the surface and soak the soil again.

Dig the hole deep enough to plant the tap root fill surrounding area with potting soil mixture.

Don't leave the tags on the tree! The tree trunk will grow around them.  Fill the hole with 1”-2” of soil dampen the soil and add more soil. Here I added potting soil the existing soil was clay.

New trees need water!  Deep water twice a week.  Slowly put water around the tree don't flood it, let the water soak in, repeat until the water stays on the surface and doesn't get absorbed into the ground. Mature trees need only be deep watered once a week. Water about 6” away from the tree trunk to encourage root growth. You should expect fruit in 2 in to 3 years.

Fruit trees take time to establish fruit so patience is a virtue.

Okay now you have the tree planted.  It's time to take a pruning class.  That's another blog!

Tips when planting bare root trees:

-Always buy from a reputable nursery

-Ask questions on how to care for your tree

-Check your growing zones for suitable tree species

-Keep the roots damp if you don't plant the tree immediately

-Don't put mulch directly up to the trunk leave 6” around the base



Harvest to table

Dave Wilson Nursery

Urban Tree Farm

UC Master Gardener

Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2023 at 12:00 AM

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