Louisa Master Gardeners

Fruit Trees FAQs


  1. When is the best time to prune fruit-bearing apple trees?

  2. When is the best time to fertilize apples trees?

  3. When is the best time to prune newly planted fruit trees?

  4. Should I mulch newly planted fruit trees?










1. When is the best time to prune fruit-bearing apple trees?

Dead wood can be removed from fruit trees at anytime of the year. If you want to encourage new vegetative growth you should prune during the dormant season (after February 1) to minimize the chances for winter injury and preferably just before active growth begins. At this time, pruning wounds heal faster, flower buds can be easily recognized, and injury from low winter temperatures is avoided.

If you are pruning primarily to allow sunlight in, you should prune sometime during the early to middle part of the active growing season – normally May through August. By pruning once growth has started you avoid some of the growth of excess ‘water spouts’ or suckers that often occur if the tree is pruned during the dormant season.

More information about pruning trees.

More information about "Growing Apples Trees in Virginia"

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2. When is the best time to fertilize apple trees?

The best time to fertilize apples trees and other fruit trees is early spring about three or four weeks before active growth begins. If you haven’t planted your trees yet, have your soil tested. If your soil is acid, it should be limed to adjust the pH to a level between 6.0 and 6.5. As a rule, no fertilizer is recommended or need at planting time. After the young trees become established and growth begins, apply nitrate fertilizer in a circle around the tree, about 8 to 10 inches form the trunk. Usually fruit trees show no increased growth or fruitfulness from the use of any nutrient element except nitrogen. Other elements are used by the tree; however, only in special cases are they deficient in the soil. Deficiencies are more likely to occur in light, sandy soils.

Check out this article on “Growing Apple Trees in Virginia”

Young trees should be fertilized three times. Apply fertilizer about two weeks after planting and again six and 10 weeks after planting.

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3. When is the best time to prune newly planted fruit trees?

Newly planted fruit trees should be pruned in the spring before growth starts. This is necessary to stimulate lateral bud development from which to select good scaffold limbs.

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4. Should I mulch newly planted fruit trees?

Young fruit trees should be mulched or cultivated until they begin to bear fruit. Weeds must be eliminated so they will not compete for available moisture and fertilizer. Cultivation should be shallow to avoid injury to roots near the surface. If trees are mulched, the mulch should be removed in the fall.

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