There are many different kinds of fruit trees that grow well in North Texas, and all of them can benefit from some care and attention in the spring. We’re fortunate that apples, berries, and citrus do particularly well in our part of the country, even if it’s not always easy to grow fruit in your yard without the experience or tools that professionals have. Fruit trees can be finicky and sometimes more demanding than other trees.
But the effort is worth it. Besides being beautiful additions to a landscape, it’s extra rewarding to eat fruit knowing you’ve grown it.
And it might be easier than you think, especially if you’re prepared and put some work in between March and April. So here are some tips and tricks for taking care of fruit trees this spring.
Spring is the Best Time to Prune Your Trees
Late winter to early spring, to be more specific. This time frame will depend on when the variety of fruit tree you’re working with blooms. But for trees that produce fruit in the summer, like apples or stone fruit such as cherries and peaches, late winter to early spring is definitely ideal. Pruning in these months will prepare a tree for a productive summer.
Your first step should be to remove any limbs that are dead or damaged — either from disease or adverse weather.
How you prune from there will depend on what you’re looking to achieve with your fruit tree. If you are more concerned with a natural look and don’t care so much about yield, you can make fewer cuts. Just make sure the tree has a solid structure. (Look at this previous post for more information on how to do that).
When pruning to maximize fruit, the goal is to have evenly-spaced branches angled away from a central “leader,” at about 45 to 60 degrees. Not every branch will fit between those numbers. The most important thing is to eliminate branches that are completely vertical or horizontal. You should also clear a path for sunlight to reach the lower branches. Fruit trees need around six hours of sunlight a day to produce quality fruit. Finally, try to give enough room for the fruit to grow.
Spring is Also a Great Time to Fertilize
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t fertilize your trees every year. We only recommend fertilization if the trees in your yard are struggling because of poor soil conditions. If a tree didn’t grow much last year or had discolored leaves or leaves that fell out of season, you may want to invest in a soil test and see if you need fertilizer. If your tree looks healthy and hasn’t had problems for a few years, you can leave the soil as is.
But if you are going to add fertilizer to a fruit tree, you should do so in the spring. That will prepare it for the next few months of growth. When purchasing fertilizer, look for a formula specific to fruit trees or one that meets the needs of your soil.
How to Take Care of Newly-Planted Fruit Trees
Generally, February or March is the best time to plant fruit trees. That’s because summer is the most stressful season for a tree when it’s pouring energy into growing leaves and fruit. A tree must have enough time to establish its roots in its new environment before then.
So assuming you’ve followed that timeline and planted a fruit tree in late winter or early spring, there are a few things you can do to ensure it will have a healthy first year.
You should first make sure it has plenty of water. Young fruit trees tend to require quite a bit of it.
Also, do your best to keep animals away. As fun as it can be to spot deer or rabbits in your yard, they do pose a threat to fruit trees. Deer like to eat the leaves and twigs of young trees, while rabbits often go for the bark, especially in spring. And always be on the lookout for bugs. Infestations from certain pests can devastate the health of your trees.
Young trees can seem pretty vulnerable, especially at the end of winter. But with a little bit of work, you can care for your fruit trees this spring and help them continue to grow.
If you’re in the Dallas/Ft Worth area and need help with pruning or another issue related to your trees, contact Arbor Leaf Tree Care. We’ll give you a free estimate.