How to Plant a Fruit Tree

Get step by step directions for adding a fruit tree to your landscape.

Before planting, choose a fruit tree variety that will thrive in your climate.

• Plant fruit trees in spring and choose a spot that gets 6-8 hours of sun daily.

• Improve soil with a 50/50 blend of Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Trees & Shrubs and native soil.

• Support each young fruit tree with 3 stakes so it will grow tall and straight.

• Until your fruit tree is established, water deeply (about 2 feet) every week and add a 3-inch layer of mulch to help maintain soil moisture.

• Encourage faster growth with semi-annual feedings with Miracle-Gro® Fruit and Citrus Fertilizer Spikes.

• Prune annually in winter to guide your tree's shape.

Choose a Fruit Tree

Cherries and apples thrive in cold, northern latitudes. Citrus prefer warmer climates. And everywhere in between, some sort of fruit tree can beautify your landscape and provide delicious off-the-tree snacks. The first step is to find a fruit tree that thrives in your climate. If you're not sure what fruit trees grow in your area, ask at your local garden center.

Choose a Location

Fruit trees love sun, so your location should provide six to eight hours of sunlight. You want soil that is rich in nutrients and retains moisture. Make sure there's plenty of room for your tree to grow so it won't interfere with anything on your property years down the road.

To help choose where your fruit tree will live, ask yourself these questions before you get started:

• How tall and wide will my tree be when it's mature?

• Once fully grown, will my tree be a safe distance from sidewalks, structures, power lines, drains, and other trees?

• How much sunlight does this location receive?

• How's the quality and consistency of the soil and will it need to be improved before planting?

Plant Your Fruit Tree

As with any project that requires digging, always call 811 a few business days before you dig to ensure your safety and prevent damage to utility lines.

Your tree will have an easier time getting established if you plant it in the spring. Dig a hole twice as wide as and no deeper than the tree's container. Gently tease the roots on the edge of the root ball then place your tree's root ball in the center of the hole.

Make sure the graft line - the spot where the tree was grafted to the rootstock - is above the soil; ask your garden center staff to point the graft line out. Fill in the space with a 50:50 mix of native soil and compost, like Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Trees & Shrubs. Tamp down the soil lightly to remove any air pockets in the soil. Use some of the extra soil to create a well around the tree to help funnel water to the roots and then soak thoroughly with water.

Stake Your Fruit Trees

Young trees need support, so be sure to stake your new tree. Use three stakes set in a triangle about 4 to 6 feet from the base of the tree. Run a piece of wire from each stake around the trunk about 3 to 4 feet from the ground, then back to the stake, making sure the tension is equal on each wire. Wrap your wire with pieces of garden hose where it contacts the trunk to avoid chafing damage. Don't stake your tree too tight; you want the tree to be able to sway slightly.

Mulch, Feed, and Water

Add a 3-inch layer of mulch around the base to help your tree retain moisture. Just be sure to keep the mulch away from the graft line. Give your tree a deep watering, wetting the soil 2 feet deep at least once a week until it's established. Also, feed it annually with Miracle-Gro® Fruit and Citrus Fertilizer Spikes in early spring and mid-fall.

Take Care of Your Fruit Tree

You may want to prune your fruit tree in late winter and during the first 4 or 5 years to set its structure and growth pattern. In later years, pruning will help your tree produce more fruit. For more on pruning, read our article Pruning Trees & Shrubs" Feed your fruit trees annually, in spring and summer. Placing a small fence around the trunk will protect young trunks from mice and deer.