Planting fruit trees

Deciduous fruit trees (those that lose their leaves in winter) are sometimes planted in winter when they are bare root and dormant. Retail nurseries can plant bare root fruit trees into pots or cover the roots with soil or sawdust to keep the roots moist. Some nurseries maintain bare root fruit tree areas for the storage of fruit trees prior to sale. It is generally a rectangular bed filled with sawdust or loose soil and the plants are kept there to avoid the roots drying out.

All of PlantNet's trees are root pruned at the time of digging so it is not necessary to prune the roots again when planting.

  • When planting a bare root tree in the backyard, it is recommended to dig a hole twice the size of the root system and soften the bottom of the hole so that it has loose dirt in it and back fill the hole with well drained soil. DO NOT DISTURB THE POTTING MIX AND ROOT SYSTEM WHEN PLANTING POTTED TREES.
  • It is important to plant the tree no deeper than where the tree has been planted before it has been dug by the nursery.This is usually shown by a dirt line on the tree trunk.
  • Planting fruit trees after winter is also fine as many nurseries stock fruit trees all year round and sell them in pots. If purchasing a potted fruit tree after winter it is important not to disturb or tease the roots too much when planting to ensure the fruit tree will establish quickly. All the same rules apply with regard to site selection, planting hole size, planting depth and soil preparation and / or choice of organic soil when planting potted fruit trees. (Plant the tree so that the potting mix in the nurseries pot is just covered by your soil). 

Planting the tree to deep will promote collar rot fungal disease and eventually tree death.


 Suggestions for planting in a pot.


  • Pot sizes above 50cm in Diameter are preferable for extended tree life.
  • Ensure pots have drainage holes or make your own.
  • Ad 25mm of Gravel to the bottom of the pot to stop potting mix draining out over time.
  • A good flower and fruit tree premium potting mix is ideal, with added slow release fertiliser. You will need to add 30% of a good quality loam to this potting mix to give the mix better water and nutrient holding capacity.(Ensure the potting mix and loam are mixed together well before adding the mix to your pot).
  • Mulch the top of the pots with cane mulch or other. Do not use pine bark as this will lower the PH which should be maintained between 6.0 and 7.0.
  • Add a good quality soil wetter or water crystals to assist with moisture retention.
  • Fertilise every 3 months with a good liquid trace element fertiliser.

If you have had the opportunity to prepare your garden's soil over time, by adding organic matter and compost before planting, this will help establish your new fruit tree. Not everyone has the luxury of planning six months ahead so don't worry if you haven't had time, just use the best quality soil you can source.

Once the fruit tree is planted in the ground or pot, firmly pack the soil down with your fist, do not stamp the soil with your feet as this is to much compaction in and around the roots. Water in straight away to allow the soil to settle which will remove any excess air from around the roots. Is a good idea to mulch trees well after planting.

After planting, water your plants in well, and continue to water them until the plant establishes itself. This generally takes 3-4 months. We recommend you water your new plant twice a week (if in a pot it may require a little more) until Christmas. The best and easiest way to establish your trees is to use a watering can so you can monitor what water is being used and you can directly target the root zone - where it is needed!

Establishing the plant may require a little bit more water through summer as the temperatures will be warmer and evaporation higher.

Caution: Do not add fertiliser to the hole or soil when planting. A small closed handfull of blood and bone fertiliser mixed into the bottom of the hole is exceptable. Start fertilising trees in early Spring.