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Planting Bare Rooted Fruit Trees

Handling

Handle these trees with care. Treat any scraped surfaces or cuts with wound jell (from your garden centre) to inhibit disease infection.

Plant it today, or tomorrow at the latest! If you wait until tomorrow, store your tree in a cool, shady place. Keep roots moist by spraying them with a hose, pulling a plastic bag over them, and tying the bag closed around the trunk.

Position

Choose an open sunny position, sheltered from strong winds. Fruit trees will grow in a wide range of soil types as long as there is good drainage. Compost will improve water retention in lighter soils and drainage in heavier soils. It will also improve soil fertility.

Planting

Begin by digging a hole wide enough to hold the roots without bending them, and just deep enough so that you can plant the tree at the same depth it grew in the field. Scrape the sides of the hole and roughen them to enable roots to grow through easily.

Bare-root trees benefit by being staked until they've grown enough new roots to anchor firmly. Use a stake at least 2m tall. Place stake in hole before placing the fruit tree.

Take some of the soil you dug from the hole. Mixing in a little compost is beneficial. Make a mound in the centre of the bottom. Place tree roots on the mound of soil in the bottom of the hole. Check to be sure that the line on the trunk showing how deeply the tree was planted in the field is at least 3-4cm above the level of soil at the sides of the hole. The graft/bud union should be well clear of the soil. Your tree will settle a little after you have planted it.

Fill hole with soil until the roots are covered. Sprinkle in some slow release fertiliser or 3-4 Grow Tabs per tree. Add water to settle the soil around the roots. Repeat the process, filling and watering, until the level of soil in the hole is equal to that of the surrounding ground, and the roots are covered. Planting too deeply can injure or kill your tree, so plant a little high rather than a little low.

It is good to place organic matter or compost around newly planted trees to prevent water from evaporating and to insulate the roots from cold weather.

After Care

Use a well balanced general purpose fertiliser in early spring and in autumn. Sprinkle below the tree's branches. Watering is very important when establishing new trees, as is regular watering in dry periods over spring and summer. Give occasional deep soakings.

Watch for powdery mildew – spray with copper oxychloride. If you see black spot spray with a good rose spray such as Shield.