How To Plant A Fruit Tree

  1. For a tree in a three-gallon grow bag, dig a hole approximately 18 inches wide and 24 inches deep. Make sure the hole has adequate water drainage. Adjust hole size, and fertilizer suggestions below accordingly for larger trees.

  2. Combine and thoroughly mix the soil you just dug out of the hole with two to three pounds of well composted manure and about a cup of dolomite lime.  Up to one third of your soil mixture can be composed of black cinder or Perlite to help with drainage. Organic matter such as macadamia husks and shells, green leafy material, wood chips, or compost may be added to your soil mix.

  3. Spread one cup of treble superphosphate (0-45-0) or super-phosphate (0-30-0) in the bottom of the hole and cover with approximately four to six inches of the soil mixture you made in step two.

  4. Gently begin to remove the bag or pot from the root ball by cutting off the bottom of the bag or pot and setting the tree into the hole. Place about 1/4 of the mixture around the plant and position the tree so it is straight up.  Carefully slit the bag down the side and remove completely, discarding the bag or pot.

  5. Continue to fill the hole with the soil mixture until the mixture reaches the level where the soil was surrounding the tree when in the bag or pot.

  6. Water thoroughly!

  7. Mulching is very beneficial. It will reduce evaporation and weed growth, build healthy soil structure, and hold fertilizer around the root zone longer. Composted plant material such as leaves, twigs or small branches can be used as mulch. To mulch your trees, spread the mulch in a 4 foot diameter circle around the tree, starting approximately four to six inches from the trunk and working outward. The mulch layer can cover the soil completely and can be applied again every few months.

 

How To Fertilize

Top dress with fertilizer at planting and every 8 to 12 weeks with a type that has a 3:1:2 ratio of Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P) and Potassium (K) for optimal growth of the tree for the first year or two.

Fertilizer should be applied in a wide circle around the tree, starting at the drip line and extending out. The idea is to encourage the roots to grow away from the trunk, become anchored and seek nutrients. The canopy of the tree generally follows the root growth.

When trees reach fruiting size change the fertilizer to a type with a ratio of 1:1:3 N:P:K. This will slow leaf and branch growth and encourage flowering, fruit set and fruit development.

Continue to mulch with composted or fresh leafy plant material to provide humus, the organic component of soil composed of decomposing plant material in the soil by microorganisms. Humus works with the soil to hold nutrients around the tree longer. Mulch will keep soil temperature lower and discourages weeds.

Dolomite (agricultural) lime, or Calcium can be important to apply to some of your fruit trees, especially avocados. Having your soil tested is good practice to ensure healthy growth.  Minor and trace nutrients should also be applied annually or semi-annually, depending on rainfall, species and location. Some fertilizer formulations may contain minor nutrients along with N-P-K, such as “palm-citrus special,” and others.

Pest Managment

We recommend Integrated Pest Management on fruit trees, this method is used in order to first identify and understand the pest and reduce the damage it causes; rather than eliminate the pest. Using strong broad spectrum pesticides kills all insects, good and bad, this practice eliminates beneficial insects that can help to reduce populations of the pest insect.  

Aphids can be controlled by horticulture insecticidal soaps and oils. Mites can be controlled with wettable sulfur powder. Many common fungi can be controlled with Kocide; a wettable powder containing Copper, a minor nutrient needed by trees and a natural fungicide. Caterpillars can be controlled with B.T, Dipel or Thuricide; a naturally occurring bacterium that only affects the caterpillars.