How to Care for a Newly Planted Dwarf Fruit Tree

Dwarf fruit trees allow gardeners with limited space the ability to grow a variety of fruit without the hassle of picking fruit on ladders and the messy cleanup of dropping fruit. Caring for a dwarf fruit tree is not unlike caring for other fruit trees.

How to Care for a Newly Planted Dwarf Fruit Tree

Dwarf fruit trees produce less fruit, but tend to produce fruit earlier in their lifetime than standard sized fruit trees. The exact bloom time and care instructions will vary from tree to tree, dwarf trees have several general needs. Look for the best dwarf fruit trees at the nursery or from your mail-order service. Although they will likely be more expensive, price is often indicative of quality.

STEPS

Select an open location to plant your dwarf tree that received full sunlight. Don't plant the tree near a shady location or near tall trees that may obstruct light or rob the soil of moisture or nutrients.

Prepare the soil with a commercial fertilizer, something you'll need to do every spring for the life of the tree. Consult the fertilizer packaging for specific amounts in relation to the age and size of the tree, as well as the particular species of fruit tree. For example, apple trees over 10 years old need almost twice the amount of fertilizer than prune trees do. Ensure that the location has fertile, well-draining soil; add amendments to the soil if necessary.

Plant the trees about one month after the first killing frost in the fall, or about a month before spring blooms. Dig the hole deep enough to accommodate the depth of the root ball, but about twice as wide to allow the roots to adequately spread out.

Space the dwarf fruit trees between 8 to 20 feet apart, depending upon the fruit tree type. You'll need to plant several fruit trees to allow for cross-pollination. Don't plant the tree too deeply, you'll need to keep the union-the place where tree trunk is discolored and slightly curved, or the place the rootstock and the scion meet-just above the surface of the soil. If the union goes below the soil surface it will root and mature into a normal sized tree.

Cover the root areas with mulch until the tree reaches fruit bearing age. Keep grass away from the base up the tree until at leas the third year. If you choose to let the grass grow, increase the fertilizing frequency.

Water the trees according to the specifications given to you from the nursery. Water amounts may vary greatly depending upon the types of trees you've planted.

Prune the trees during their dormant season, when wounds can help faster. Since any type of pruning you do will dwarf the tree further, never eliminate branches that aid with the overall support of the tree. Only off excess shoots to stimulate other shoot growth, and prune areas that allow for light penetration into the center of the tree and good fruit development.