How to Plant a Fruit Tree

Many (close to 700) rootstocks were obtained at the Scion and Rootstock sale (2003). I hope all will be grafted. Once you have made your tree you will want to plant it. Here are some suggestions for planting your newly grafted tree.

If your tree is bare root, soak in water for 12 to 24 hours. Trim damaged roots.

1. Preparing the planting hole.

When digging the hole make separate piles:

  1. for the place top sod or weeds;
  2. top soil;
  3. subsoil (usually a lighter color).

Dig the hole 18-24 inches deep and just a bit wider than the roots of the tree. Place the sod or weeds in your compost pile. Fracture the bottom and sides of the hole with your spading fork or shovel (this causes a rough surface on bottom and sides).

2. Locate and orientate the graft.
When placing the tree in the planting hole orientate the bowed area of the graft to ward the prevailing wind. In westside Portland, southwest, near the Columbia George, east.

3. Placing tree in planting hole.
Place the tree in the planting hole and hold it so that the graft is at least six inches above the soil line. Now add subsoil (if present) to a level that allows the graft to be at least 6 inches above the soil line. Next add the top soil to the hole. Do Not Fertilize!

4. Water the tree thoroughly, even if it is raining.
Add more soil when it compacts. Keep the graft 6 inches or more above the soil line.

5. Staking the tree.
If or when you stake your tree:

  • Don’t tie a tree tightly to the stake. A tree must flex in the wind for strong roots and trunk.
  • The stake should be 6 – 12 inches from the trunk. Tie the tree with a figure 8 loop around the tree and stake. Old garden hose with a wire through it is ideal.
  • Tie low. Trees have a stiff lower portion and a more limber upper portion. Shake the tree and find the transition area between the stiff and limber portion. Tie 6 inches above the point where the trunk begins to flex the most.

6. Keep a map.
Make a scale drawing and label the location of each tree. Tag the tree with a “permanent” tag with variety name, rootstock name, date planted and source. Do not tie tag tightly to tree as the tree will increase in diameter and the tag tie will “girdle” (pinch to death) the tree.

Stand back and watch your tree grow. Keep weeds at least 12-24 inches away from trunk and water the first year until about mid August.

Pome News, Spring 2003 Issue