Choosing the best time to plant a fruit tree is quite important and can make a difference to how quickly the fruit tree establishes and adapts to its new home. Depending on the type of fruit tree you buy, pot grown or bare root can make a difference too.
Planting a fruit tree is one of the most fulfilling things you can do. In a physical and metaphorical sense you are investing in the future by planting a small tree and nurturing it into maturity.
Of course, a fruit tree has the added benefits of the fruit it produces which if not eaten by you, your friends and family is still extremely beneficial to all manner of animals and wildlife. Along with the fruit something many people overlook is fruit trees have some of the most beautiful and fragrant blossoms which is good enough reason to plant a tree in itself.
When To Plant A Fruit Tree?
The absolute best time to plant a fruit tree in your garden is from around the end of October until early March, this is when they are dormant.
If you go to any garden centre or plant nursery then you are likely to see fruit trees for sale no matter what time of the year it is.
You can buy a tree and plant it at any time of year and with a little bit of care it will grow, although the first year or so it will be stunted and less established.
For best results you should be looking at planting trees when they are dormant or for container grown trees from around the end of August up until the beginning of May.
When They Are Dormant
Fruit trees do not grow all year round and are dormant for several months when the weather gets cold.
It is easy to know when a tree is dormant because it is the period between when the leaves fall and before the buds open as the weather starts to warm up.
Dormancy is just like it sounds, the tree goes into a period of rest and will not emerge with new growth until it has spent enough hours at cold temperatures, this is called the chill requirement.
Nurseries and fruit tree growers use this dormant period to their advantage as a tree can be lifted, transported as a bare root without impacted the health of the tree. This same process is used for selling other bare root plants like roses.
Pot Grown Vs Bare Root
There are a few options when you come to buy a fruit tree as to the way the plant is supplied. The two most common ways to buy a fruit tree are either as a bare root plant or a tree grown in a pot.
Bare Root Fruit Tree
The most economical way of buying a fruit tree is to buy a bare root tree. The tree has to be supplied in a dormant state so you will only be able to get them at a certain point of the year.
As the name suggests the tree has no soil around the roots. In this condition the tree will be fine to be kept for around 1 or 2 weeks before it needs to be planted.
Best Time To Plant Bare Root Fruit Trees
As these trees can only be supplied when the tree is dormant you can only buy them during the colder months.
Bare root trees are supplied usually between the end of October and the beginning of March. Once you have purchased a bare root fruit tree you will need to keep it cold and plant it within 7 days ideally or the health of the tree will suffer.
Pot Grown Trees
Unlike bare root trees you will be able to source pot grown trees all year round. They, of course, have soil around their roots and many fruit trees, especially the smaller varieties will grow quite well in pots year round.
If you are thinking of buying a fruit tree then you are best of waiting till summer has past even if it is pot grown to get the best results.
When to Plant Pot Grown Fruit Trees
Typically if you are transplanting a pot grown tree into the garden you would still want to do this from September to the beginning of May. This is a wider range than a bare root tree and doing planting during this period will see a much healthier fruit tree especially during the first year.
When To Avoid Planting A Fruit Tree
The worst time to plant a fruit tree is when it is putting all its energy into growth. The period from May until the end of August is when a fruit tree is growing at its fastest.
Moving or transplanting a tree during the summer months won’t necessarily kill it but would put a lot of stress on the tree so if possible wait till after summer has passed or before it begins.
The only other time to avoid planting a fruit tree is when the ground is frozen or when there is a period of bad weather. It is not fun trying to break into frozen ground so keep the tree in a cool place such as a garage until the weather passes.
If it is going to be longer than a week before you can plant and you have a bare root tree then sticking it into a bucket of damp compost will be fine.