The best time to plant a fruit tree: spring or fall?

December 8, 2014

You’ve heard fruit trees should be planted in the fall, but your father-in-law says spring. So when is actually the best time to plant a fruit tree? Spring or fall?

The best time to plant a fruit tree: spring or fall?

The season for planting or transplanting

Your father-in-law wasn’t so far off, but your information applies too. You’re both right. In fact, the best time of year to plant or transplant a fruit tree is between mid-October and late April.

Optimal time

During that six-month period, is there a time that’s even better? In short, yes.

  • November is the best month of the year to plant an apple, pear, cherry or other fruit-bearing tree. Berries follow the same schedule: blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are also best planted during this period.

Note: In contrast, you should avoid planting this type of tree during periods of frost, heavy rain or when snow has accumulated on the ground.

Special considerations

It's important to seek advice from an orchard or tree expert as each fruit tree has its own quirks and characteristics.

  • Make sure to place a mesh or tree guard around the trunk of your tree to protect it from mice and other pests.
  • The hole you dig should be large enough to contain a good amount of manure or fertilizer, mixed with fresh soil. Water the hole before planting the tree. Then water again thoroughly after planting and packing the soil.
  • Your tree's roots will be wrapped in burlap or a container that can easily be removed. Cut off the bottom of the container before lowering it into the hole. Once the tree is in place, use a sharp knife to cut vertical lines on the container to peel it away and remove it from the hole. This will avoid damaging delicate roots or causing unnecessary stress to the tree.
  • Plant your tree so that it's surrounded by a small mound of soil. This will improve drainage and avoid drowning the roots.
  • Before choosing a fruit tree, know the conditions where you hope to plant it. Fruit trees require many hours of sunshine to produce fruit, so shadier locations are not ideal.

Don’t forget

It’s recommended to plant fruit trees of the same species (same family), but not necessarily the same variety. This is especially true for apple and pear trees.

  • Trees of the same variety will not pollinate each other. However, planting different varieties of the same fruit tree will encourage cross-pollination and produce fruit.

Certain experts advise you, especially in the case of apples, to prevent flowering and fruiting for the first three years in order to allow the tree to grow.

  • Instead, use this period to prune your tree annually to shape and strengthen the fruit bearing branches.

Always respect the required space between trees according to their size at maturity.

  • Plant trees far enough apart so they don't impede each other's growth as they get bigger.

To avoid

Don’t plant a tree at the bottom of a slope. You’ll risk losing the tree before it even bears fruit.

  • Water will accumulate around the tree, which can drown the roots and cause rot.
  • High winds are bad for fruit trees. Try to find the right balance between sun and wind.

For a plentiful harvest

Whatever variety of fruit tree you choose to plant — whether in late spring or fall — one thing is certain: do it right and you can look forward to a plentiful harvest each year.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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