If you’re not from Arizona originally, you may have been surprised by the prevalence of palm trees and fruit trees that dot our landscape, thinking as most people do that both belong in the tropics. After you’ve been here awhile, you get used to it, however, and may begin to consider that adding fruit trees to your home oasis is the one thing you need most! And because we want our clients to have everything they want and need, we at New Image Landscape and Pools are providing this thorough guide to planting and caring for fruit trees, ensuring that your table will be filled with your favorite fruit (during the season, of course) for years to come!
Choose Your Fruit
Obviously, not all fruit trees do well in our desert climate, and even if your neighbor with the dark green thumb manages to grow EVERYTHING, you might want to stick with the ones that are guaranteed to do ok when you first start out. This means that citrus is where you want to start. Lemons, limes, and grapefruits do amazingly well in our desert clime, so well you may find yourself with bags and bags to give away after they have matured. Other trees that thrive include different varieties of golden apple, pears, peaches, apricots, and plums. Some fruit trees need a male and a female to be planted near each other, but citrus trees are self-fruitful, and you can get away with planting just one—a perfect choice in the somewhat smaller standard Phoenix backyards!
Seeds or Seedlings
We find planting bare root trees much easier than pushing a seed in the ground and waiting, especially if you seek instant gratification! Local nurseries offer a variety of sizes with a variety of prices guaranteed to fit any budget. A 24-inch box is generally not that expensive and provides an instant difference for those who just can’t wait! Remember, if you’re planting this tree yourself, you’ll need to make the hole twice the depth and width of the roots, so you might want to stick with a smaller 10 gallon tree and save yourself some work.
Find the Perfect Spot
Fruit trees require lots of sun (something we have no shortage of here in the desert) and soil that drains well. Planting a lemon tree in the shade of your two-story home is not a good idea, obviously, and one of the best places we have found in our own yards is out by the pool, far enough away that you don’t have to worry about skimming pears out of the water or roots bursting through your pool wall, but close enough to enjoy the rays of sun you enjoy yourself while floating around the pool. Fruit trees grow large, so be sure to plant away from power lines or sidewalks. They need plenty of space to grow tall and strong!
When to Plant
If it’s 115 degrees outside and candy bars melt in your hand before you get to open their packaging, you might want to wait a few months to purchase and plant your fruit tree. We’re lucky in Arizona, we actually have two planting seasons, spring and fall, with the fall having the most benefits. With that being said, spring is just a whisper away, and fruit trees do well when planted in the spring, so if you’re excited about the idea, you won’t have to wait much longer!
Juicy Fruits Need Lots of Water
In the beginning, as can be expected, you will need to water frequently; the rule of thumb is whenever the first two inches of soil have dried out. As the tree matures, you can lessen the watering times, but will still need to deep soak them periodically; a drip watering system can be your best friend!
Time to Fertilize
If your tree is growing taller every year, you may not need to add any fertilizer, but if its not thriving, very late winter or early spring is when you can add fertilizer safely; high nitrogen fertilizer is the best type to choose. Mixing a root stimulator in with the loose dirt you pulled from the ground when you dug the hole will help ensure its growth follows the generally accepted schedule!
What About Pests?
All gardeners have to fight the occasional invasion of pests, and that includes those planting fruit trees, but in Arizona we have it a little easier than other states. If you are finding yourself victim to pests, however, you really don’t want to use chemicals to chase them away; that fruit is eventually going to end up in your child’s mouth, and if you don’t want to eat the poison from the bottle, why would you add it to your fruits? Farming science has determined there are a variety of methods of controlling bugs organically, generally by introducing insects that are beneficial to the environment. Ladybugs, parasitic wasps, and lacewings have proven to work best!
Now It’s Time to Enjoy!
As you can see, there’s not a lot of work that needs to go into the planting and care of fruit trees, but if it seems like more than you are interested in taking on, give us a call today! Our knowledgeable landscapers can do all the hard work, leaving you to do nothing more than enjoy the fruits of our labor!