Dormant Fruit Trees

Gary Jones

Thu January 26, 2017 5:35pm

PLUM SANTA ROSA

When deciduous fruit trees such as peach, plum, apricot and apple lose their leaves in the winter, they become dormant. At this time of year, they can be easily planted due to this dormancy. Not only are these trees perfect additions for the season, but now is the best time to prune and care for them. Here are some tips on how to plan for and plant dormant fruit trees:
First, consider the size of tree your yard can accommodate. Most nurseries carry semi-dwarf trees, but trees vary by variety. You’ll need a minimum of eight feet between them.
Pick your variety based on your location within the county. Your local garden center will know which fruit trees are the best suited to your area’s chilling hours, which, roughly, are the number of hours between the temperatures of 32-45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Amend the soil with an organic planting mix and starter fertilizer. Make a soil “well” around the base of the tree to hold three-to-four inches of water.
Fruit trees should be planted in a space that receives full sun. Once the tree begins to leaf out, feed it with an organic fruit tree fertilizer every three months until late summer.
Deep water once every seven to 10 days. Do not keep soil constantly wet.
In winter, once the leaves have dropped, prune any branches that are dead, cross over others, grow toward the center of the tree or are not growing upwards in at least a 45-degree angle, as these will break when fruit matures.
Rake up old dead leaves and discard them in the trash. There may be fungus spores or insect eggs that could harm your trees if they are left to compost.
After you clean up, use a dormant copper fungicide spray following the directions on the label.
Do not use copper spray on apricots, as this may cause the fruit not to set.
Gary Jones is the Chief Horticulturalist at Armstrong Garden Centers. Email him your drought and gardening questions to growingdialogue@armstronggarden.com.