Translated by Nick R
As we have mentioned in different blogs, plants provide enormous benefits for people. This time, we want to talk about fruit trees because besides being a great source of food, they provide shade and support for climbing plants and wood.
That’s why in this blog I’ll introduce you to these wonderful trees: what you need to plant them and reproduce them; existing tree species; and a technical data sheet of the fruit trees along with their respective characteristics.
Table of Contents
Conditions of fruit trees
Fruit trees are those trees that produce fruit, either fleshy or dry. These are totally edible and contain one or more seeds inside them.
Their characteristics vary from tree to tree:
- Fleshy fruit and stone: these fruit trees are known as drupes and have the seed inside a hard stone known as the pit. These include plum, mango, peach, cherry and olive trees.
- Fleshy fruit and several seeds: this type is known as pomes and like the previous one, the fruit is fleshy. They include apple, pear, loquat and quince trees.
- Nuts or hard fruits: these fruits are inside a hard shell. In this variety, you can find chestnut, walnut, hazelnut, and almond, among others.
- Exotic fruits: these are tender fruits whose structure is varied and do not fit into the previous categories. This variety comprises mandarins, oranges, lemons, papaya, fig-trees, and others.
These fruit trees, unlike vegetables, have the advantage of producing food for many years. Naturally, as long as the necessary conditions are kept so that they can grow, develop and remain in proper condition.
What are fruit trees’ needs in order to develop?
Every fruit tree requires precise atmospheric conditions for good quality and quantity of yields. For this reason, you must choose very well the place where you want to plant your fruit tree, always taking into account the species you are cultivating.
In case you want to produce these trees in an industrialized manner, the implementation of greenhouses, walls, windbreaks, and other protective devices will be very helpful. Although these processes can be a bit costly, it all depends on you and your needs.
Do not forget that each species of fruit trees has specific requirements, especially regarding soil and climate. But don’t worry, below, I’ll explain the aspects you need to know to keep your fruit tree in the best conditions.
Depending on your species and variety, you must take into account the maximum and minimum temperatures of your area, as well as the sunlight intensity and the amount and timing of rainfall.
Also, be aware of fog, hail frequency, and wind intensity.
Be careful with harsh temperatures as trees can suffer from severe frosts or excessive heat. In some cases, the part of the fruit that is most exposed to direct sunlight may develop spots or burns, causing the fruit to shrivel.
If, for example, you place your fruit tree in the shade to prune it and instantly put it in direct sunlight, excess heat may affect the leaves, trunks and branches.
On the other hand, some species of fruit trees can resist the frost; however, it depends on their vigor, health, and age. You should keep in mind that the resistance degree may vary depending on when the cold arrives. As well as its duration; whether there is snow, humidity, ice melting, and air.
Low temperatures don’t pose much of a threat as long as they don’t appear suddenly. Late spring frosts pose a risk to fruit trees as well, as at this time they’re just beginning to vegetate and complete hibernation. Young tissues in growing trees are very sensitive to low temperatures.
This is of vital importance for plants in general, as it acts in the photosynthesis process, transpiration, respiration and other activities that they carry out to develop.
It’s essential that your fruit trees receive adequate light in every part of it, clearly avoiding excess in order to avoid damage to the fruit tree.
Natural factors such as rain, snow, dew, fog and hail have both beneficial and harmful influences on fruit trees.
Rain is the main water supply for the soil in which fruit trees are located, and it also helps to reduce unnecessary expenses of water when irrigating.
However, when it’s excessive, it can affect the flowering stage of the tree as it hinders flower germination and impedes pollinators from reaching the tree.
Snow is also beneficial for the tree as long as it is not followed by freezing winds. Otherwise, it can contribute to ice crust formation on the branches and damage the fruit tree. If the snow is very thick, it can cause tearing and cuts in the branches.
Fog plays a negative role by hindering the fertilization of flowers and leading to cryptogamous diseases, meaning the absence of flowers on the plants. What you can do is avoid growing your fruit tree in areas prone to fog.
Hail is harmful during the vegetative period of plants, as it causes bark cracks, damages tender shoots and can uproot or damage fruit. The degree of damage will depend on the season and the intensity, size and duration of the hail.
Violent winds can cause great damage to fruit trees such as the fall of flowers and fruits, and also, branch breaks. If you live near the sea, the wind can bring harmful salts to the fruit trees.
To avoid this situation, you can plant windbreak plants to protect your fruit trees and any other plants. These windbreakers should grow fast, be able to reach considerable heights, be vigorous and resistant to diseases.
Your fruit tree will develop best in fresh soil, rich in organic matter, deep and permeable. The soil components such as clay, lime, sand and organic substances must be in the appropriate proportions.
These proportions vary in relation to the fruit tree to be planted, for example; plum trees can develop in clayey or loose soil, even in light and siliceous soil. In this way, the roots of the fruit tree will be able to develop, extend in-depth and absorb the water they need in dry seasons.
In a previous blog on how to start planting, I share with you a technique you can use to find out the type of soil you have in your garden. Let’s remember this technique step by step.
How to grow a fruit tree?
Now that you know what to take into account so that the fruit tree can grow without problems, I’ll explain how you can plant and care for them.
You can plant a fruit tree by seeds or grafts, the latter option is the most used because it’s more successful than the other.
Later I’ll explain these two options in depth. However, it’s better to have the desired fruit tree already developed by grafting, because at that point it has the roots best suited for adapting to the soil.
One option is to buy them already developed, in this way you’ll only have to worry about maintaining the right conditions for the fruit tree to grow. Once you have the tree, dip the roots for a few minutes in a pasty mixture of water and clay soil before planting.
If the roots are very dry, you can leave them for 24 hours in this mixture. Be sure to remove any dry, broken or very long roots so that there are no problems when planting the tree.
For planting, make a hole about 50 to 60 cm deep and 50 cm wide. Mix the extracted soil with 2 to 4 kg of organic fertilizer to supply it with the necessary nutrients. Don’t forget the soil conditions I mentioned earlier.
You can nail a wood or stake to support the fruit tree during its first steps of growth. This way you’ll prevent it from detaching off due to strong winds or other factors.
After this, plant the fruit tree, filling the spaces evenly with the soil mixture to avoid air bubbles. Remember to leave the grafting point at least 5 cm above the surface. It’s advisable to plant the fruit trees at the end of winter to avoid frost.
Later I’ll explain in depth what grafting consists of; however, in general terms, it’s the union of the rootstock (the roots) and the variety (the branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits). Such union is known as the grafting point.
How to reproduce Fruit Trees?
Fruit trees, as I mentioned before, can be reproduced in two ways, by seeds and by grafting. For seeds, the process is the same as the one we have already discussed in another blog on how to plant fruits and vegetables. You sow them in a seedbed with the right substrate and regular watering until they germinate.
However, the seeds of these fruit trees don’t always develop and if they do, they take a long time to bear fruit or simply don’t bear fruit at all. For this reason, the seeds are used to produce the rootstock used in graft propagation.
The rootstock is what develops the roots of the fruit tree, and the other part of the tree, called the variety, is added to it. In this part, we find the branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits. And this assembly is the grafting reproduction process.
It’s known as grafting the union of one part of a plant with another, which merge to develop both as a whole and a single plant. Trees that reproduce in this way maintain the same quality as the mother plant, which is not the case with seeds.
For this process two types of grafting are used, scion or 1-year-old branch piece and bud with or without wood attached. There are several ways to join grafts with rootstocks, and I’ll show you two of them.
The first is the crown graft that is used for scion grafting. The setup is simple, as shown in the picture, you can use mastic paste or grafting tape at the end to secure the variety and protect the short parts.
The second is the gusset graft used for bud grafting. You can also use grafting tape to attach the bud to the rootstock.
Remember that you can do this grafting process in spring for scion grafts and in late summer for bud grafts. Besides considering the aspects that I mentioned at the beginning about care and conditions for planting fruit trees.
Fruit tree care
Once you have finished planting your fruit tree, you’ll have to take into account the following points for its care.
The first watering after planting should be abundant and periodical so as to fix the soil to the roots of the fruit tree. As a guide, you can know when to water again once the first 6 cm of the soil has dried out.
As the tree grows, watering will be less frequent and will depend on whether it rains or not.
It’s important to prune after planting to shape your tree. Then you’ll do it at the end of winter or during the summer and autumn when the first buds and leaves of the season haven’t appeared yet. You can also prune just after harvesting the fruit.
There are four types of pruning:
- Formative pruning: it is done within the first 4 years of the fruit tree’s life in order to give it a specific shape.
- Cleaning pruning: this is done every year to remove damaged parts of the tree and dry branches.
- Fruiting pruning: this is also done every year to prepare the tree for the following year’s harvest.
- Regeneration pruning: it’s not very common since it’s used for old trees and to encourage the production of new shoots.
This is an important aspect for the care of fruit trees as these require nutrients that will help produce delicious and healthy fruit.
As I mentioned before, when planting the fruit tree, you must mix the soil with organic fertilizer, this is known as compost. Then you’ll add the compost or fertilizer of your choice, either solid or liquid, every 4 months during the whole life of the fruit tree. This is known as maintenance fertilizer and should be added before flowering.
Fruit trees can be very prone to suffer from these annoying pests. However, you can prevent their attack by ensuring the best light, climate, soil, drainage, and shade conditions.
Remember to always plant healthy trees and carry out cleaning pruning.
The harvesting of the fruit on a single tree should be partial, not total, as not all fruits ripen at the same time. To identify the fruit that has ripened, they should have the particular skin color of the variety. Apples, for example, should be red or green.
It should be carried out in the early morning or late afternoon during the summer. It’s imperative that you wear gloves to avoid damaging the fruit; some of them are very delicate.
Pick the fruits by twisting them slightly but without pulling or pressing them with your fingers. In addition, the collecting basket you use should be padded or wrapped with a layer of corrugated cardboard. This way the fruits won’t suffer or get bruised during the process.
5 fruit trees you can grow in your garden
Below, you’ll find a datasheet of 5 fruit trees that fall into the above-mentioned categories. Namely drupes, knobs, nuts, and exotic fruits.
One tip is to try to choose those fruit trees native to the area where you live, as they are already adapted to the climatic and soil conditions.
Naturally, you have the option of planting fruit trees from other regions but you must guarantee similar conditions. In this way, neither the tree nor the environment is affected. Use greenhouses for this purpose.
- It’s a bushy-like plant that can reach two up to 5m in height. It has deciduous leaves.
- Its optimal temperature to grow is between 10°C to 20°C and it can resist very well the winter cold.
- It adapts to all types of soils, except to excessively thick and permeable. It is sown in late winter or early spring.
- Its fruit is dry or hard but the edible part is the seed, which is a circled white almond covered with reddish skin.
- The cherry tree can reach a height of more than 10m and its appearance depends on the variety.
- The cherry tree is not demanding in terms of climate, although it likes an airy and sunny climate. It can withstand temperature fluctuations and drafts.
- The ideal soil for this tree is aero-clay, light and fresh.
- Its fruit is a small round drupe, and the color depends on the variety of cherry, which can be white, red or black flesh. The color of the skin varies from orange-red to black.
- It’s a deciduous climbing shrub, simple and round. Its flowers are gathered in inflorescences.
- Kiwifruit prefers a warm and humid climate with temperatures above 0°C and around 15°C (59°F).
- Violent wind can affect the plant, so it should not exceed 30 km/h. Avoid areas with very low humidity.
- Its fruit is a fleshy berry with numerous very small seeds.
- It’s a citrus with lanceolate leaves, not very developed and green in color. They are very perfumed and rich in essential oils.
- It has the ability to adapt to very different climates, it’s resistant to cold and high temperatures.
- It requires sandy, deep and very fertile soil to develop.
- The fruit is part of the exotic fruit type because of its varied structure. It has an internal pulp divided into segments and few seeds.
- This tree can reach up to 15 to 20 meters high. It has shiny and oval leaves and its flowers are white and are gathered in inflorescence.
- It prefers cool, temperate climates, but cold when it hibernates. Although it has a low resistance to coolness.
- It can develop in clayey, fresh and deep soils. It does not tolerate soils rich in calcium.
- Its fruit is fleshy and its pulp is sweet yellowish or white. It contains 5 to 10 seeds.
Now you know a little more about these wonderful trees, which besides being a rich source of food, provide a magnificent ornamental value for your garden. Don’t miss the opportunity to plant a fruit tree and experience every stage of its development.
Take into account the aspects that I explained throughout the blog and get to work.