From farming stock to lifestyle blocks

How to grow fruit

03-Jun-2013 | Contributed by: Guest Author

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Tangerine tree

Fruit trees are a popular choice for any garden, lifestyle block, or small farm. To find out what fruit trees grow best in your region, have a look at our Regional Fruit Farming Guide.

Growing fruit trees and harvesting your own fruit are traditions that remain popular with rural residents and lifestyle block owners. Fruit trees are easy to grow, low maintenance and provide a yearly bountiful crop of fruit – so let’s get started!

Fruit trees are a rewarding decorative garden feature, provide spring flowers, fragrance and shade from the summer sun. To get the most from your harvest, follow this simple guide.

What To Buy

Young fruit trees can be sourced as container grown,  packaged or as bare-root whips (which look similar to a twig with roots) and are best planted in winter while dormant.

Location of Fruit Trees

Remember – young fruit trees are susceptible to strong winds, always choose a sheltered, open and sunny place to plant. Although most trees can grow in a range of soils with good drainage, compost will enhance the soil quality and fertility.

Planting Fruit Trees

  • Dig a hole that is slightly deeper than the root depth and which allows for 20cm clearance around the roots.
  • Mix some compost with the soil in the base of the hole, then place the tree and slow release fertiliser in the hole so that the graft is above soil level.
  • Create a small mound at the base of the hole and spread the roots out carefully.
  • Before back filling, position tree stakes. Partly back fill and firmly compact. Continue back filling and compact once or twice more.
  • Water well.
  • Bare rooted trees bought in winter must not be left for roots to dry. Plunge in water (for no longer than half a day) prior to planting.

Caring for your fruit trees

Use a well balanced general purpose fertiliser in early spring and in autumn. Sprinkle below the tree’s branches. A slow release fertiliser can also be added at planting time.

Watering is very important when establishing new trees, as is regular watering in dry periods over spring and summer. Give occasional deep soakings.

Use an organic compost as a mulch. It will conserve moisture, protect roots, add nutrients and prevent the growth of weeds and grass (which compete with trees for soil nutrients).

Low vigor, young trees should be pruned fairly heavily and encouraged to grow rapidly for the first 3 years without much fruit.

Pruning and Training

Pruning is important. It will encourage renewal of fruiting wood for regular crops of quality fruit, it lets light into the tree, it removes diseased parts and pruning also controls a tree’s height.

During the early stages of tree development, the main goal is to develop the shape and framework which will support the heavy crops of fruit.

Pruning is done in winter when trees are dormant. Make sure secateurs are sharp, and cut just above each growth bud.

When removing dead or diseased wood, always cut through the healthy tissue below the diseased section. Paint large cuts with a sealing compound to protect against disease.


Diseases are spread by wind or moisture and thrive in humid weather. Burn any fallen infected leaves or mummified fruit.

Keep the fruit trees in a well ventilated position and prune out the centre to increase air movement. A Copper spray will help prevent disease invading leaves, stems and fruit. But be careful - Copper sprays can damage the leaves of peaches and nectarines.

Enjoy the bounty of your efforts!

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