How to care for your fruit trees
The following step by step instructions provide a general guideline. Please note that planting is site-specific, and methods can vary depending on the location.
Most tropical fruit trees need to be grown in full sun, which means 6 to 8 hours of sun daily. By providing the tree with plenty of sunlight, there will be better fruit production and tree growth.
- Dig a hole wider and deeper than the tree container.
- Place the tree in the ground at the same level as it was in the container. Avoid burying the trunk as this can negatively affect the tree’s health. Avoid planting the tree too high as you don’t want to expose the roots to the sun.
- Build a small mound with the extra soil (2-3 feet from the trunk to hold the excess water). This will help prevent water run-off.
- Apply compost and fertilizer, mixing it slightly within the top 2-3 inches of soil. Make sure to spread the mix 2-3 feet out from the center of the trunk so the root zone is well fertilized.
- Water the tree thoroughly so any air pockets in the soil get filled in and the entire root zone is saturated.
- Apply mulch 4 to 6 inches thick (using wood chips or similar) in a 6-foot diameter circle.
Protecting your tree
If you have animals (such as grazing animals or deer), and you are not planning on having a perimeter fence, then we encourage installing a cage around your tree with fencing. Some fruit trees are very susceptible to rose beetles (i.e., longan, cacao, jaboticaba, sometimes avocados, citrus and other). If you have issues with pests skeletonizing the leaves, you could cover the cage with shade cloth which would protect your tree from both wind and Japanese rose beetles.
Depending on the tree and weather, your tree will need 2 to 5 gallons of water twice a
week for the first six months until it gets established. Depending on your location and amount of rainfall, you should be able to double that amount after 6 months, (5 to 10 gallons of water) and reduce to once a week.
Fertilizing, Pruning, Mulching
Fertilizer should be applied 2-3 times per year using the recommendation on the bag.
Choose an organic, all-purpose fertilizer unless your soil test recommends a specific
regimen. Prune your trees as necessary. Maintain the layer of mulch as 4 to 6 inches of wood chips would decompose within one year. Add more mulch as necessary and expand the much and fertilizer zone as your tree grows.
When planting a younger tree (2 – 5-gallon container or depending on the variety) it is important to remove the flowers and baby fruits for the first 2 to 3 years. This enables the tree to put the energy into new growth and developing stronger root system. This would greatly benefit the health and vigor as well as disease resistance in the early years. If you have a more mature tree (10-gallon container or bigger) you can let the tree fruit sooner.
How to take care of your grafted trees?
Make sure to know where your graft is so you can observe it.
- Protect your tree from strong winds which could snap off the graft.
- Remove the shoots growing from the root stock (below the graft) using a pair of snips. Sprouts below the graft will dominate and take energy away from the growing graft.
- It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks for the graft union to be strong and fully fused together – do not remove the grafting tape before that.
- Do not remove the parafilm (it will not strangle the tree). The buds from the scion wood will push through the parafilm easefully and this will be a good sign that the graft has been successful.
- After 6 to 8 weeks, (or after you get two flushes of new leaves from above the graft), only then should you remove the grafting tape in order to avoid strangling the tree. Don’t worry about the parafilm—it will fall apart on its own.
- Newly grafted trees are ready to go in the ground or into larger pots once the graft has strongly fused together (after the second flush of growth).