The Art of Planting Fruit Trees

A Mandarin Proverb- "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now"

While fruit trees offer a myriad of benefits, most people don’t have the right information and experience to plant them. With so many pieces of advice, tips, and information about planting fruit trees out there, it can be a little overwhelming, if not downright usurping. So today, I’m going to make it a little easier for you. Keep reading to learn the art of planting fruit trees.

What Is the Right Time to Plant a Fruit Tree?

If we borrow a leaf from the Chinese saying, you could have done it 20 years ago, but here we are. And, let’s be honest; not everyone has the privilege to plant a tree in Spring. So, I will make something clear-cut: you can plant a fruit tree any season of the year. Of course, not all seasons are created equal. Botanist's, will tell you that Spring is the absolute best time to plant a tree. Why? It’s the time when the sunshine is strong enough to support lush and speedy growth but also subtle enough not to cause damage.

art of planting  fruit trees

Buying Tree Seedlings

Nurseries like this one will typically sell fruit trees in three forms: potted, bare root, and balled & burlapped. 

Bare Root: Most bare root seedlings are shipped just in time for spring planting. They are neither potted nor balled, implying that they are susceptible to damage. It’s recommended that you plant bare rooted trees right away. Otherwise, you can place them in a bucket of water for a while - a week tops. You can also bury the roots in a makeshift mound of soil. Here’s the trick: don’t leave it out too long as it might take root, making its transfer a bit hectic.

Potted: Potted fruit plants are a slice of heaven for home gardeners. The problem is that potted trees are always on sale over summer months or at the beginning of fall. Don’t fall prey to these predatory antics. Keeping your fruit tree potted from fall all the way to spring is somewhat laughable.

Balled and Burlapped: commonly shortened B&B, this form of fruit tree may be your best shot at increasing the chances of survival for your trees. In principle, trees are dug from a field making sure that roots are not damaged. Later, the native soil and roots are wrapped in burlap to make its transportation effortless easy. The allure of a B&B tree lies in the fact that it can stay intact for up to 2 years as long as the root-ball is moistened regularly. It also makes transition easy, with little or no stress on the tree.

the art of planting fruit trees

Choosing the Right Location

When planting a tree, location is also a significant aspect to consider. Sure, finding a proper place is not really rocket science, but you need to follow a few rules. The big part of this process is choosing between optimum morning sunshine and afternoon sunshine. Start off by observing where the sun rises in your area. On the whole, a spot that receives maximum morning sunlight is ideal. Can you plant a tree in shade? That is a resounding yes.

Actual Planting

When planting a fruit tree, a shovel should fit the bill, but you might need an ax for roots. A pick mattock is called for in places with bricks, stones, and a plethora of other hard boulders. Just don’t dispose of the original dirt - soil and other decomposable matter. The hole should be twice the size of the roots you intend to plant.

Tree Planting Depth Question

If you check out tree planting forums, you will notice that they are awash with questions around tree planting depth. Of course, there are a bunch of variables to consider.

Seed Grown Fruit Trees: making out the planting depth for seed grown trees is pretty easy. More often than not, these trees will have a flare that marks where the stem meets the soil. That should be at the surface of the ground.

Grafted Trees: Planting these is a little tricky. They typically have a node where the scion and the rootstock meet. The node or graft union need to be exposed at all times during the tree lifespan.

When you are ready, put the fruit tree in the hole and spread out the roots around it. This way, you will get even fruiting in the future. It’s recommended that you fill the hole with as much original dirt as possible. When you are finished planting your fruit tree, you should water them immediately. You should never use fertilizer until the tree stabilizers to reduce chances of toxicity and stress. Also, a young tree shouldn’t be overly nursed.


  • Plant fruit tree whenever possible, but spring is absolutely the best time.
  • Direct sunshine is ideal, but shade will do just fine.
  • Use as much original material as possible.
  • Don’t forget graft unions should always be exposed.
  • Water the tree immediately after planting. If you live in an area with water restrictions or just want to conserve water than these read these tips.

Happy Planting!

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