It is essential to consider cross pollination when choosing varieties. Select suitable varieties from our wide range by referring to pollination tables.
Choose a warm, sheltered position. Avoid badly drained sites and low lying areas where spring frosts are likely to damage blossom. Morello cherries and cooking plums are the only trees that will thrive on north facing walls.
Dig the area to be planted and make sure soil is clear of perennial weeds. Add lime to acidic soil, add peat or compost to light sandy soil. On heavy clay mix in some sand and plant on a raised bed to help drainage. In all cases, spread and dig in a general fertiliser and a handful of bone meal at each planting position.
Bare root trees can be planted any time during their dormant season – November to March. Unless the ground is very wet or frozen it is advisable to plant them as soon as you buy them. If you cannot plant straight away, stand them in a cool place such as the shed and keep roots moist until planting.
Dig a hole 1ft deep and 2ft across, loosen soil at bottom of the hole. Drive a stake in the hole and place tree close to the stake. Replace enough soil to cover the roots. Shake the tree up and down to get soil around the roots. Check that the union will be at least 3 inches above eventual soil level. Gently firm soil around the roots, replace remaining soil, firm and level off. Tie the tree to the top of the stake.
All trees need pruning after planting, see pruning guide.
To help the soil stay moist, mulch the surface around the tree in spring: straw; peat; compost; forest bark or black polythene are suitable materials. A 2ft circle around the tree should be kept free of weeds or growth will be affected.
To get a good start, trees must not fruit in the first summer after planting. This is prevented by cutting of the blossoms at the end of blossom time in mid May.
We suggest spraying at least 3 times a year, using a fungicide, to control scab and mildew. Include an insecticide to control aphid and caterpillars if these are present. DO NOT spray with an insecticide during flowering as this will kill the bees. Some varieties are particularly susceptible to mildew, fungicide sprays may be required in early June and July as well as the 3 spraying times mentioned below:
- Green Cluster – just before flowering late April
- Petal Fall – just after flowering mid May
- Fruitlet Stage – late June
Unless a tree is self fertile it will require a pollination partner in order to fruit. All tree fruits are divided into flowering groups, ie varieties that flower at the same time fall into the same group. A variety from group 2 will cross with any other variety from group 2 and also any variety from adjacent groups 1 and 3. This is the same for all the flowering groups. Some trees are triploids, which means that they are no use as a pollinator and require 2 compatible varieties that pollinate each other. Pollination can seem like a complicated subject but it is not as much of a worry as people think, most people are likely to have good pollination in their garden due to the close proximity of other gardens.
All trees need pruning after planting, with the exception of stone fruits (plums, cherries etc) for these wait until April to avoid disease. The shape and size of the tree is determined by the pruning technique used.
Pruning of Bush Trees: The pruning of open centred bush trees is based on several principles:
* the centre is not retained, allowing a round shape to develop from 5 or 6 well spaced side branches which form the framework of the tree
* all pruning is carried out during the dormant period, from November to March, apart from stone fruits in April
* new shoots are only tipped to reduce their length or to promote branching.
* shoots growing into a vacant space are left unpruned but when a number of shoots are growing together unwanted shoots are removed completely.
Pruning after planting: Reduce all the current years growth including the main stem by one third to one half of its length. Cut only an inch off any short growth. Always cut just above an outward facing bud.
Subsequent pruning: Continue to remove one third to one half of the length of all new wood. Good fruit size and colour together with satisfactory bud formation are all dependent on sunlight penetrating to all parts of the tree. An open habit can be created in an older tree by removing: diseased or dead branches; low hanging branches; very strong upright branches; crossing branches and branches that are more than 4 years old, apart from main framework.
Pruning Dwarf Pyramids: Dwarf pyramids have a centre stem and a framework of branches, which are longer at the bottom than at the top. The ideal shape is similar to a christmas tree.
Pruning after planting: Starting with the lower branches; cut 5 or 6 of them to 10 inches long, if any are less than 10 inches then remove 1 inch from the tip. Try to select equally spaced branches so that there would be a radial symmetry if viewed from above. If the tree has more than 6 side branches then all the upper ones should be trimmed to 6 inches. This forms a second tier. Side branches with narrow angles to the main stem should be removed. If the tree has 2 or more upright shoots at the top, leave the uppermost and cut out the others. Prune the remaining centre branch to 12 inches above the uppermost side branch.
Summer pruning, early August: Pruning at this time will control the size and shape of the tree and help to make it more fruitful. Leave the new leader, otherwise prune all new shoots. Take each main side branch in turn and:
1. Cut the tip shoot (called the branch leader) to 6 inches long
2. Cut any side shoots from branch leader to 4 inches long
3. Cut any shoots growing from side shoots to 2 inches long (with tip bearing varieties leave short shoots of this type unpruned, unless they are longer than 6 inches then prune as described
4. New shoots growing from the main stem should be cut to 6 inches long
Winter pruning: Prune the top upright shoot (left unpruned in previous summer) leaving 8 inches of current years growth.
Subsequent pruning: Repeat the described procedure. As the tree fills out make the cut to half the length ie where you had been cutting to 6 inches now cut to 3.
Espaliers and Fans:
Espalier and fan trained trees are suited to being grown against a wall or on wires. When purchased these trees are semi trained, they require pruning in order to establish a full framework.
Pruning espaliers after planting: Espaliers will have two tiers already established these are at roughly 18 inch intervals, this is the height that your wires will run. In order to produce a third tier cut the main leader just above the third wire. Cut the side branch leaders back by one third. Any side shoots (laterals) from the branch leaders should be reduced to 3 or 4 inches. Any other shoots from the main stem can be removed.
Summer pruning espaliers: Shorten laterals on side branches to 4 inches. Shorten any sub laterals (growing from laterals) to 2 to 3 inches. Do not prune any shoots which are shorter than 8 inches. Do not prune leaders. Tie in main leader and the selected shoots for the third tier. Remove unwanted shoots from central stem and tie in side branch leaders.
This process can be repeated until there are as many tiers as required and side branches have extended as far as required, then prune back new growth to point of origin each year.
Spring pruning fans after planting: Shorten branch leaders by one third. Tie shoots to canes forming a framework (if not already done when planted).
Summer pruning: Pinch shoots not required for branch leaders, back to to 5 inches in June – July. Mid August – September cut these shoots back to about 3 inches. This process can be repeated annually. More branch leaders will need to be tied in to establish a full framework. If the tree becomes too crowded thin out some shoots in August.
Cordons: These trees are pruned so that they have a straight stem which has fruit spurs along its entire length. These are usually planted at an angle of about 45 degrees and trained onto wires. Planted in this way they fruit well and allows a good selection of varieties to be planted in a relatively small area, they can be spaced 2-3ft apart. Pruning follows the same principles as other trained trees.
Tip Bearing Varieties: A small number of apple varieties, all medlars and quinces are tip bearers meaning that the very tip of each extension will bear fruit. These require careful pruning to establish a good framework but don’t let this put you off. Some laterals can be shortened to 3 buds and other shorter laterals can be left to develop fruit buds on the tip. These unpruned laterals can be pruned in later years back to fruit buds nearer the branch. The leader can be shortened by one third to one half.
General Care Guide
Mulching: To help the soil stay moist, mulch the surface around the tree in spring: straw; peat; compost; forest bark or black polythene are suitable materials. A 2ft circle around the tree should be kept free of weeds or growth will be affected.
De-blossoming: To get a good start, trees must not fruit in the first summer after planting. This is prevented by cutting off the blossoms at the end of blossom time in mid May.
Pests and disease control: We suggest spraying at least 3 times a year, using a fungicide to control scab and mildew. Include an insecticide to control aphid and caterpillars if these are present. DO NOT spray with an insecticide during flowering as this will kill the bees. Some varieties are particularly susceptible to mildew, fungicide sprays may be required in early June and July as well as the 3 spraying times mentioned below:
1. Green Cluster – just before flowering late April
2. Petal Fall – just after flowering mid May
3. Fruitlet Stage – late June
Soft Fruit Planting & Pruning
Blackcurrants: Plant 5ft (1.5m) apart, with 5ft or more between rows. Plant firmly and deeply so that strong young growth will come from the base. After planting bare root plants always cut back all the shoots to about 1 inch (2.5cm). Pruning in subsequent years means removing about one third of the old wood to encourage young basal shoots.
Redcurrants, Whitecurrants and Goosberries: Plant 5ft (1.5m) apart with 6ft (1.8m) between rows. These plants are normally grown with a short stem or leg and any suckers should be removed from the root system before planting. The bushes should not be planted too deeply. After planting shorten the leading shoots by about half their length, to an appropriate bud. Subsequently fruiting is encouraged by spur pruning the young lateral shoots to about an inch in the case of red and whitecurrants, and 3 inches for gooseberries. Leaders are shortened by one third of their length each winter.
Summer Fruiting Raspberries: Plant the canes about 18 inches (45cm) apart with 6ft (1.8m) between rows. Avoid planting canes too deeply, a covering of 3 inches over the roots is ample. Cut the canes down to 4 inches (10cm) above the soil, immediately after planting. When new shoots appear in spring the 4 inch stub should be cut away. The young canes are tied in to a wire fence system for cropping the following season. Subsequently all canes which have fruited are cut out at ground level immediately after fruiting.
Autumn Fruiting Raspberries: Plant in the same manner. Autumn raspberries fruit on one year wood so all canes are cut out at ground level each year.
Blackberries, Loganberries and Tayberries: Plant 6-10ft (1.8-3m) apart with 6ft (1.8m) between rows. These plants should not be set too deeply and after planting they should be cut back to 3 inches. The young shoots arising from the base of the plant are tied in as they grow and the old stub can be removed. Subsequently canes are cut out immediately after fruiting.