Fruit Tree Care

Growing fruit trees in the home garden can add beauty to the landscape while providing fruit for healthy snacks, jams, jellies, cobblers, & pies. However success requires careful planning, soil preparation, and proper care and maintenance of the trees.

The first step is selecting the type of fruit you would like to grow. You need to be careful when choosing the types of fruit you would like to grow. Just because you see the fruit at your local grocery store or produce market does not mean that fruit will grow successfully in your local climate. For that reason be careful lof ordering trees through mail order catalogs. It is best to buy tried and true varieties available at your local nursery or garden center.

Fruit Trees for Eastern North Carolina:

Recommended Varieties Maintenance
Requires Pollinator
Apples Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious Moderate Yes
Asian Pears 20th Century, Chojuro, Shinko, Shin Seik Moderate Yes
Figs Brown Turkey, Celeste, Texas Everbearing Low No
Nectarines Rose Princess Very High No
Peaches Belle of Georgia, Elberta, Red Haven, Sam Houston High No
Pears Bartlett, Keiffer Moderate Yes
Pecans Cape Fear, Desirable, Stuart Low Yes
Persimmons Fuyu Low No
Plums Methley, Burbank, Stanley Moderate No

*Note : Most fruit tree varieties that do not require a pollinator, will generally have better fruit set with another tree to cross pollinate with.

Site Selection

Fruit trees need to be planted in well drained and fairly fertile soil. When poorly drained soils cannot be avoided trees can be planted in raised beds. Beds should be 18 – 24 inches high and 4-5 feet wide and will need to be irrigated more frequently during the growing season.

Soil fertility is also important. Your soil pH should be around 6.5. If it is lower, lime will need to be added to raise the pH of your soil and if it is higher, sulfur can be added to lower the pH of your soil. A soil sample sent to the soil lab at NC State University can determine the pH and fertility of your soil

and should be done before planting. We have the boxes and forms needed to submit a soil sample available free of charge. The soil test is also a free service and usually takes 4-6 weeks to receive your results. When collecting samples, take one sample from the top 8 inches and another sample from the 9–16 inch depth. We can also assist in interpreting the results of your soil test and can set you up with everything you need to properly amend your soil. Here at S&H Feed & Garden, we can also do a quick test to find out your soil pH, just bring us a small cup of dirt from your garden.

Air drainage is also important to consider. If your property has changes in elevation, plant your trees on the top of a hill rather than at the bottom. Cold air is heavier than warm air. In the event we should have a late frost which is common, a tree planted in a low area (frost pocket) could get damaged and result in no fruit for that season.

Fruit trees need to be planted in full sun. Avoid areas shaded by other trees, houses or buildings. Trees planted in too much shade could result in poor fruit quality and increased disease problems.

Fruit Thinning

Apples, nectarines, peaches, and pears should be thinned early in the season. These trees can produce more fruit than the tree can handle which can result in smaller fruit, branch breakage, and increased insect and disease problems. A heavy crop can also result in a poor crop the following year. Fruit should be thinned when fruit is about the size of nickel. Remove fruit so that you leave 4-6 inches between the remaining fruit.

Training and Pruning

Fruit trees should be pruned regularly to insure abundant crops and to maintain the overall health of the tree. The objective of pruning is to develop a strong tree framework, removal of dead, damaged, or diseased branches, and to open up the canopy to maximize light penetration and air circulation. Properly trained and pruned trees will yield fruit earlier and live longer. Stop in and see us or give us a call for more specific questions on proper tree pruning.

Fruit Tree Care Made Easy


Dig a hole at least 2-3 times bigger than the diameter of the rootball. Making the hole as wide as possible will allow roots to grow quickly into the loosened soil and speed up the plants establishment. Fertilome Root Stimulator should be used to water in your plants after transplanting and once a week for the first 2 or 3 weeks. A slow release fertilizer such as Fertilome Start n Grow or Gardencote may also be used.


Apply Fertilome Fruit, Citrus, & Pecan Tree Food in late winter or early spring. Broadcast underneath the tree inside and outside the drip line. Keep fertilizer at least 6 inches away from the tree trunk. An application of Hi-Yield Zinc Sulfate may be needed for pecan trees. Remember a soil test is the best way to determine exactly how much fertilizer you need for your trees.

Bug and Disease Control

1. Pre- Pink Stage(just before bud swells) FertilomeHorticultural OilSpray Kills overwintering stages of insects and mites.
2. Bloom Stage(for Fire Blight only) FertilomeFire Blight Spray Do not use insecticides during bloom period.
3. Petal Fall(most petals have fallen) FertilomeFruit Tree Spray Spray once a week until fruit shows.
4. Cover Sprays(after fruit has set) FertilomeFruit Tree Spray Every week for four weeks, then every two weeks until harvest.
5. Dormant Spray(after leaves have fallen) FertilomeHorticultural OilSpray Kills overwintering stages of insects and mites.

Weed Control

Weeds around your fruit trees can compete for moisture and nutrients. To control weeds, selectively apply Hi-Yield Super Concentrate KILL-ZALL Weed & Grass Killer as needed.