How to Plant a Fruit Tree

It’s bare root fruit tree planting season here in California and this video, from the Dave Wilson Nursery, shows you how to plant your trees once they arrive in the mail. One quibble–it’s been proven to be not a good idea to amend soil when you’re planting a tree. Other than that, this is how we’ve planted our trees and they’ve all grown well.

And I wish that I had done the radical pruning you see at the end of the video. Cutting the tree to knee height will give you a shorter, more manageable tree.

You can find more home orcharding videos on the Dave Wilson website.

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  1. Last year my neighbor lopped off a couple of bare root cherry trees knee high and lost both of them. I’d be curious to see if any of your readers have tried this and, with what success?

    • I trust Dave Wilson’s advice here–they have experimented with this kind of pruning for many years. I also helped out at the Huntington Gardens where this method was used. It results in a more manageable, smaller tree with the fruit at a convenient height for harvesting and netting to keep out critters.

  2. Are you saying that if you plant two trees and cut one off at knee-height it will end up smaller than the one that wasn’t cut? That makes no sense to me. Left to themselves those two trees will end up the same height. The ultimate size of the tree will be determined by its ongoing maintenance, i.e. if you want a smaller, more manageable tree you’ll have to do regular summer pruning. On the other hand, if you do cut your new tree off at the knee, you may get lower scaffold branching which might make the tree sturdier and able to support more low-hanging fruit.

    • No–as you say, you cut trees short to encourage lower scaffold branches. And, as you also say, you need to do ongoing maintenance to keep trees short.

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