Fruit Tree Guide

Posted by Sunset Garden Experts on

fruit tree guide


Growing fruit trees is both easy and rewarding. Sunset Nursery specially selects fruit trees for quality and winter hardiness to our area. This guide is designed to take the mystery out of growing fruit, helping to ensure your success.

Spacing Fruit Trees

Fruit trees need to be spaced properly to allow sufficient light for even ripening, permit good air circulation around trees to reduce disease problems and eliminate growth competition between trees.  The number of trees in a given area can be increased by using one of the more dwarf varieties. Standard size trees are very large and are not recommended for city lots. Semi-dwarf trees are 60% of standard size while dwarf trees are 40% of standard size. The following chart may help:





15’ – 20’

18’ – 20’


10’ – 12’

12’ – 15’


6’ – 8’

8’ – 10’



Many fruit varieties do not accept their own pollen readily and therefore require another variety of the same fruit type to enable it to bear a reasonable amount of fruit. Ask our staff for details.

NOTE: Pollinating trees should be planted NO further than 100’ apart. If you have a neighbour within 100' that has another variety of your type of fruit tree then you could be good with only 1 tree. Having said this the closer the better and if you have the space/budget we recommend getting two trees of your own for the best yield.

Ideal Location

Plant trees in a well-drained soil on a gently rolling South-East slope. Fruit trees need to be planted where they will receive at least 5-6 hours of direct sunlight per day. They typically bear more fruit and grow more evenly the more light they receive.

Pre-Planting Care

Many fruit trees are sold in pots. To ensure growing success, fruit trees need to be planted promptly after purchase. While digging the holes, trees should be kept moist and in the shade. Keep the soil in the pot moist until the tree is planted.

How to Plant

Dig a hole 1.5-3 times wider than the pot size and as deep as the tree's root ball. Fruit trees should be planted without significantly disturbing the soil around the roots. DO NOT twist roots in the hole or use the graft (lump on the bottom on trunk) as a guide for planting depth. All grafts are not the same height.

The Planting mix should consist of 2 parts well-drained garden loam and 1 part peat moss and a cup or two of bone meal. (other slow release fertilizers for fruit trees are ok too). You can also use our favourite transplanting product called Myke. If using Myke take the white powder, rub it around on the root ball, and sprinkle some in the bottom of the hole. You can also use 3 way mix to backfill the hole if you don't want to mix your own. (3 way mix is the perfect blend)

Next set the tree into the hole at the proper depth so that the soil in the pot is level with the grade surrounding the planting hole. Fill the remainder of the hole with the planting mix and firm in with your foot to remove air pockets. Build a soil saucer around the base of the trunk to hold the water and water again.

Insect & Disease Control

Regular spraying is necessary to control insects and diseases. Spraying should begin in March or early April before the buds open. (See accompanying chart). Dormant oil is a natural mineral oil, which coats the branches and smothers any insects over-wintering on the bark. Lime Sulphur is sprayed on to control over-wintering diseases and mites. You can buy them from us together in something called a Dormant Oil Spray Kit. For optimum fruit quality, subsequent spraying should occur every 10-14 days following the spray chart on last page. Insects tend to be most prevalent during periods of rapid growth ie. Spring. Diseases are worst during periods of prolonged wet weather. Trees should not be sprayed during the blossom period, as this will kill the bees, which pollinate the trees. For further tips on spraying, consult the spray chart.

Winter Protection

All trees and especially trees adjacent the fields of long grass are prone to rodent injury. Plastic tree guards are an inexpensive way of protecting your trees against rodent injury. Their light colour also helps to distribute winter sun heat evenly around the trunk to prevent winter splitting of the bark. The best protection against winter is a well-cared for healthy tree. Always rake up and remove all fruit and leaves from under fruit trees before snowfall. This helps reduce the chance of diseases come spring.

Bird Protection

For the homeowner, the easiest way to prevent the birds from eating your prize crop is to cover the entire tree with plastic garden netting at harvest time. These are available in large sheets.

Pruning Fruit Trees

Fruit trees require regular pruning to help improve the yield and quality of the fruit. The goal is to keep fruit trees open in the center, and low in height to facilitate spraying and picking. Ask our experts for more details.


Growing your own fruit trees can be a rewarding experience. With a little attention and care, your fruit trees will serve you well for many years. Nothing beats the taste of a bite of your own home-grown fruit.







Late March to Early April

Dormant State (Prior to “leafing out”)

Scale, Red Spider & Mealy Bug, Rust, Mildew, Apple Scab

Dormant Oil

Lime Sulphur

(Can buy a kit with both in it called a dormant oil spray kit)

Spray Dormant Oil before buds break, spraying thoroughly and from al sides. Spray in the morning to allow complete drying before a cold night. Lime Sulphur may be added to Dorman Oil as a combination spray.

Mid-April to Mid-May

From “Leafing Out” of tree to “Pinking” stage of Blossom (Colour show but no petals open)

Leaf Hoppers, Mites, Aphids, Caterpillars, Scale, Spider Mites, Mealy Bug, Apple Scab, Blight, Mildew, Rust

Defender or Insecticidal Soap



Late May to Mid-June

Immediately following the drop of Blossom Petals

Railroad Worm, Mites, Aphids, Scab, Blight, Mildew, Rust

Defender or Insecticidal Soap

It is important that this spray is applied as soon as blossom petals fall to prevent railroad worm damage (brown “tracks” in apple). If there has been a disease problem in the past, it is wise to use an insecticide/fungicide.

Mid-June to Mid-August

12 days after blossoms fall & repeat at 12-14 day intervals

Railroad Worm, Mites, Aphids, Scab, Blight, Mildew, Rust

Defender or Insecticidal Soap

Follow label directions for date of last spray before harvest. Apple maggot is very difficult to control if unsprayed apple or crableapple trees grow nearby

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