Planting Instructions

For detailed discussion of site selection, planting, pruning, and disease management:

Planting instruction checklist -- check as you go!

  1. ________ Your trees arrived! Open the box and pull out the bundle(s) We usually wrap the roots in plastic.
  2. ________ Do not let the trees freeze. Put them in a cool place out of the sun.
  3. ________ Never let your tree roots dry out! If the roots are wrapped in plastic then just leave them in their plastic wrap. It would be a good idea to stick a hose into the bag and wet them down. If you are going to plant same day or next, just take the whole bundle and put it into a trash can full of water or a pond. Trees cannot soak for more than 24 hours. They will drown! ________ (3a) It is also very appropriate to heel in your trees. Make sure that the roots are thoroughly covered in soil or wet sawdust.
  4. ________ Dig a hole the size of a bushel basket. This would be about 18 inches deep by 18 inches in diameter. If you have a nice loamy soil then just use the same soil. If you have a poor soil mix 50/50 with either potting soil or well rotted manure.
  5. ________ Once again, it is very important that the roots do not dry out. Just bring out one tree at a time, or drag a trashcan with water in it to the planting area. Put the trees into it.
  6. ________ It is better to trim the roots to fit the hole rather than twisting the roots to fit the hole.
  7. ________ Place the tree into the hole. The graft union should be 3-5 inches above true soil line. There are exceptions to this rule. We do recommend burying the graft union of Plum, Peach and Cherry on Mazzard rootstock by about an inch.
  8. ________ Back fill with your soil mix half way. Do not add raw fertilizers or raw manure to soil mixture. Tamp the soil with your foot. Pour in 1-2 gallon of water. Let the water percolate. Tamp again with the heel of your foot. It is very very important to tamp thoroughly. This gets rid of air pockets. Back fill the rest of the way with soil. Water again. Tamp again. Come back next day after it has all settled and water and tamp yet again. Of all the waterings in a trees life this is the most important one!
  9. _______ If you are going to stake your tree (recommended for dwarf and semidwarf apple) then this is a time to do it. A good solid metal T-stake 8ft-10 ft tall will work. Make sure to pound it well into the ground. You may want to pound it in next to the tree before backfilling. This is an important stake. The weight of future apple crops depend on it so take you time and pound it in. Peaches, Plums, Cherries, Apricots and Pears don't require staking.

Topping your trees

If you don't top the trees, the chances of surviving transplant are decreased.

Now your trees are planted. What's next? ..... This can be a painful process. We sometimes have to prune the trees to fit into the shipping boxes. Some stone fruit gets 8-10 ft tall in the nursery! The pruning that we do at shipping time is usually not enough. Be brave. Cut the tops as we suggest and you and your trees will be much happier. Topping promotes strong healthy growth and gives you a well shaped tree.

Apples and pears:

  1. Feathered trees. If a tree has branches, trim the central leader back half way and all side branches back half way. This is minimum pruning. It would not be incorrect to prune the central leader back to 38 inches from the graft union and prune all branches back to 3/4 inch nubs.
  2. Whips or trees with one or two branches. Trim all branches back to 3/4 in nubs. Cut central leader back to 38 inches from graft union.

Peaches and tart cherries:

Prune all of the branches back to 2 inch nub and top the tree at 30 inches above the graft union.

Sweet cherries and plums and apricots:

If feathered cut all branches back 1/2 way and central leader back half way. If a whip, top at 34 inches above graft union.

Fertilizer and water

Trees should be watered 1-2 times a week throughout the season. 3-4 gallons of water. We do recommend fertilizer a month after planting. 4 oz of 10-10-10 scattered around the base and watered in. Miracle Grow follow the label instructions. If organic, follow the recommends. Too much fertilizer is not a good thing. Too little, and you don't get enough growth.

Weeds and critters

Keep the weeds away... Whatever it takes... Landscape fabric, old magazines, bark mulch. We do not recommend herbicides in the establishment year.

Keep the deer, mice and rabbits out! We recommend spiral plastic tree wraps for the rabbits and mice.

Deer... Fences are best. Repellents work if you spray them every 7-10 days without fail. There is no point in planting a tree if the varmits are going to destroy it. Lots of money and time wasted!

If you follow all of the above steps, you'll give your trees a great start.

For detailed discussion of site selection, planting, pruning, and disease management: