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Fruit Trees

What are fruit trees?

Fruit trees are flowering trees that produce edible fruit and nuts. Some trees produce inedible fruit, but most fruit trees are planted for their edible fruits and nuts, such as the American Chestnut (hybrid) tree, the American Thornless Blackberry, the Native Pecan tree and the Butternut (White Walnut) for some nut examples. Many fruit trees produce fragrant and visually appealing flowers, making them ideal additions to any garden or landscape design. Fruit trees want their fruit and flowers to be appealing to both humans and wild animals so that their seeds will be spread, helping them propagate.

The American Plum tree, the Cortland Apple tree and the Yellow Delicious Apple tree produce the more common definition of fruit. Some fruit trees aren’t trees at all, but varieties of shrubs, such as the American Black Elderberry, which is planted and treated like a tree and highly prized for not only its fruit, but its bark and leaves, which are used as a herbal medicine.

Some fruit trees make fruit that is inedible by humans but can be enjoyed by wildlife such as birds and squirrels. The Hackberry tree makes a great home and food source for backyard wildlife.

What season should I plant fruit trees?

When planting fruit trees, the best times vary according to region, the type of tree and its condition when planting. Bare root trees must be planted when they are dormant, making them one of the few trees best planted in the late winter months, often January. Bare root trees are just like the name sounds; they are dug from the ground in the winter while dormant and the soil has been removed from their roots. The early fall months of September and October are also good times to plant fruit trees. This allows the tree to acclimate and set roots down before the cold of winter. The months of September and October offer the advantages of temperate, cool weather and plenty of sunlight. The spring months of February, March, and April are also good times to plant. In addition to the rain spring brings, the spring months allow the tree to establish its root system before the high temperatures of summer weather.

Technically speaking though, you can plant fruit trees during the spring, summer, or fall (and late winter for bare root fruit trees.), as long as you consider any adverse conditions such as dryness and heat in the summer. In the summer, make sure you do extra long, thorough soaks when watering, and perhaps provide some shade coverage for freshly planted fruit trees. With cold temperatures in the winter be sure to wrap your fruit tree with burlap or cardboard. There are also many products designed for keeping trees, especially fruit trees, protected from winter climates. These range from polyester pop-up tents to large plastic bags.

Where is the best place to grow fruit trees?

Most fruit and nut trees love or require full sunlight. It is also a good idea to choose a well-drained area, because like most plants, many fruit and nut trees do not like soggy soil. This depends on the tree, though. Some trees, like certain varieties of citrus enjoy wet soil. Wind exposure also needs to be considered, making the south side of a building generally a good place to plant fruit and nut trees.

All fruit and nut trees love full sun. There are some fruit and nut trees that can tolerate partial shade such as the American Black Elderberry shrub, the American Hazelnut tree, the Hackberry tree, the Kentucky Coffeetree, the Native Pecan tree and the Paw Paw tree.

Which fruit trees are the tallest?

The tallest fruit trees are by far the nut trees. The tallest fruit trees bearing fleshy, traditional “fruit” are the Cortland Apple tree which grows up to twenty feet at maturity, the Osage Orange tree which grows up to forty feet at maturity, the Paw Paw tree which grows up to thirty feet at maturity, the Shadblow Serviceberry tree which grows up to twenty-five feet at maturity and the Yellow Delicious Apple which grows up to twenty-five at maturity.

The Native Pecan is one of the tallest nut bearing trees, growing up to one hundred and thirty five feet at maturity. Other tall nut bearing fruit trees are the American Chestnut (hybrid) tree, which grows up to one hundred feet at maturity, the Black Walnut tree, which grows up seventy-five feet at maturity, the Butternut (White Walnut) tree, which grows up to sixty feet at maturity, the Chinese Chestnut tree, which grows up to sixty feet at maturity, the Hackberry tree, which grows up to sixty feet at maturity and the Kentucky Coffeetree, which grows up to seventy-five feet at maturity.

Which fruit trees are the smallest?

Smaller fruit bearing trees include the American Black Elderberry shrub, which grows up to twelve feet at maturity, the American Hazelnut, which grows up to eighteen feet at maturity, the American Plum tree, which grows up to ten feet at maturity and the Apache Thornless Blackberry tree, which grows up to eight feet at maturity.

How do I care for fruit trees?

Examine your fruit tree often for signs of disease and pest infestation. The best defense against these common fruit tree afflictions is a good offense. Fruit trees are thirsty, so water frequently, and up to weekly during the summer months. Use the common tree adage of watering deeply for fruit trees, so water for longer periods less frequently. Pruning away any sucker branches (new growth coming from the trunk of the tree), and any waterspout branches (branches that grow straight up from horizontal branches) in the winter and summer encourages fruit growth. Use 2-3 inches of mulch around the base of the tree and over the roots, leaving a few inches of space between the trunk and the mulch to prevent rot. Fertilizing with organic compost, placing around the tree similar to mulch, will support your growing tree. Fertilize more for trees that aren’t growing well. Thinning out diseased and poorly formed fruit will keep your tree from growing more fruit than it can support. For young trees, it’s good to spread out branches with wooden spacers.