Fruit Trees in Atlanta
Growing and caring for fruit trees does not have to be complicated. Homeowners in Atlanta are often timid to plant them, because either the homeowner had bad luck in the past or they believe fruit trees require some secret knowledge to be successful. Both reasons are far from the truth. But it it’s necessary to understand, and adhere to, a few basic rules for success.
Knowing the right species is important in Atlanta, since our climate isn’t always the best for fruit development. Most people assume peach trees are the best, but they can be very temperamental and prone to disease if you are a ‘hands-off’ gardener. The easiest fruit trees to grow tend to be the apple and pear varieties. There are some plum tree varieties that do quite well in the Piedmont region. Persimmon trees are often overlooked as a great late-season producer. Lime and lemon trees can be grown here, but only in pots that can be temporarily moved indoors when the temperature turns too cold.
Be sure to research how the fruit tree pollinates. For example, some apple trees only produce fruit when pollinated from differing apple varieties, while other apple trees require same-variety pollination. Most homeowners find the best success by planting several of the same varieties in a group, plus a few odd varieties nearby.
Fruit Trees Need Sunlight
The most common mistake is planting a fruit tree in the wrong place. Because fruit trees are small or medium in canopy size, they tend to end up planted underneath larger trees. All fruit trees must be planted where they receive a minimum of 8 hours of direct sun per day. More is always better.
Every Branch Needs the Sun
Fruit that is exposed to the sun will be bigger, sweeter, and softer. Remove limbs and branches that won’t receive direct sunlight. Fruit that is borne on shaded limbs tends to be small, hard, and bitter.
Thin fruit tree canopies every year, by removing crowded and conflicting branches. Poor air circulation results in diseased fruit. For reference: a properly spaced limb can support a cat crawling through the branches without its back touching them.
For abundant fruit production, fruit trees should be thinned and/or reduced in the dormant season by approximately 20-25%. Fruit trees are here to provide fruit, and not become majestic oaks! Fruit trees will be pruned much differently than you would prune a young shade tree.
Above all, have fun. Try a few varieties out. If one particular species or variety is not working out, don’t feel bad about cutting the tree down and trying a new one. Fruit trees can be purchased very inexpensively, so removing the poor ones and replacing them with successful
varieties is a common practice. Every landscape is different, so what works in the suburbs may not work in urban areas.
If you would like help in managing your fruit trees or would like to take charge of fruit tree fertilization, pruning, and disease management, call us for a consultation.