Spring is here and it's a great time to be out in the garden. Here are some tips for looking after your Fruit Salad Tree in Spring.
Your Stonefruit and Apple Fruit Salad Trees will begin to wake up from dormancy, now that the weather is warming up. Your Citrus trees, although evergreen, will now start to flower and grow again.
Did you know: When the flowers appear, these flowers eventually set into fruits
On the Stonefruit tree, the pink flowers are the Peaches and Nectarines, the even lighter pink flowers are the Peachcots, the light pink with darker pink surrounds are the Apricots. The Plums ‘wake up’ last, about 2-3 weeks later, with white flowers.
Tip: Don’t think your plum is dead, it’s just ‘sleeping in’!
Citrus fruits have generally all white flowers, however, the lemon flower has a purple base to its flowers. Multi-Apples have pink and white flowers.
The first fruits will appear in approximately 6-18 months from the time you receive your tree. The reason being, when we graft a tree, we use buds from mature trees so there’s not much waiting time for fruit to appear.
If your Fruit Salad Tree is young, it is best to take off the first fruits when they are the size of a pea and allow the framework (branches) of all the grafts to develop first. This is especially important while the tree is young, ie in the first year, because the branches need to become thick and strong to be able to hold the fruit. You don’t want the tree getting overloaded with producing fruit at this stage. Leave just a couple of fruits on each branch and choose those closest to the thicker part of the branch, not at the very end of the branch.
Tip: Keep the growth of branches ahead of the fruit production.
If your tree is older, 3+ years, then the tree branches should now be strong enough to support more fruit, therefore more fruit can be left on the tree. Every season, allow an increase in fruit production.
Once the tree has reached its full height and the branches are strong, you will no longer need to remove fruit. Even once your tree is mature, some thinning out of fruit is advisable so the weight of the fruit doesn't break branching as our trees will set a lot of fruit when mature.
Tip: More fruit may be allowed to set on any faster-growing grafts, as that will slow down the growth of those branches. Always reduce fruits on any slower growing grafts as this allows more energy to go into the growth of those branches.
If you have not sprayed with Lime Sulphur over the Winter dormancy period (See Autumn or Winter Care Reminder) then the leaves of your Stonefruit tree may appear buckled or twisted, or have 'blister' type deformities on the leaves. If this occurs, then it has been affected by Leaf Curl, a very common disease with Stonefruits, especially affecting Peaches and Nectarines.
Unfortunately, you can only treat for Leaf Curl during Winter at leaf fall, by around mid to end of May. During that time you would spray with Lime Sulphur twice, a week apart and/or again with a Copper Oxychloride Spray at bud swell when the tree is about to emerge from dormancy, usually, around late June early July, spraying twice, a week apart.
Tip: If you only wish to apply one of the sprays, we would recommend the Lime Sulphur application as the timing of the spraying is less critical.
Have a look for any tiny green/brown insects on the new leaves, these are not your friendly neighbourhood bugs, they are aphids and can be active from August to November and throughout summer, attacking young new growth. We use a spray called Pyrethrum to eradicate them, usually, just one application will do the job, but check it in a few days and spray again if they are still moving. You can tell when they are dead because when you shake the leaves, they fall off.
Espaliered 6 Graft Apple Tree in flower
All fruit trees need regular feeding. Ideally, feed four times a year. Slow Release fertiliser is good (Osmocote with added trace elements), animal manures e.g. cow, sheep, horse, chicken etc. (older is better) is great because it's an all-round manure. Compost, trace elements, blood and bone, citrus all round fertilisers are also good. Occasionally, you can add kitchen scraps under the mulch to attract earthworms. When using fertilisers, keep the fertilisers away from direct contact with the trunk of the tree. If you live in a frost prone area, then best not to fertilise late autumn because this can encourage new growth that can be burnt off with frost. Top up mulch when required.
Tip: Fertilise your trees at the beginning of every season, an easy rule of thumb to help you remember your tree is hungry! This spray is not harmful to the tree or the fruit and is very user-friendly.
As your tree bursts out in a Spring growth flush, we are reminding you again to look at your tree and the position of each of the grafts. Make sure that one or two of them are not 'racing away' in their growth compared to the others. Trim back any grafts that are growing faster than the other to maintain a balanced tree. For those of you with Stone fruit trees, remember your Plums sleep in, meaning they wake up later than the other grafts.
Establish a well 'balanced' tree by pruning back the more vigorous growing grafts, anytime and regularly during the growing season. Citrus is ever-green so balancing and pruning your tree applies all throughout the year. Stonefruit and Multi-Apples require balancing during the growing season (July - March).
Thin out branching of each graft, if needed, to equalize growth vigour! Compare not only their length but also the energy going into growing their framework and reduce where necessary. Otherwise, the more vigorous growers will become bigger, stronger, and dominate at the expense of the slower growers. Maintaining balanced growth of grafts will probably need to be done at least once a month and is especially important while the tree is young and developing!
Tip: Keep each graft confined to grow in its own area of the tree; this will assist in recognizing the faster and slower growers.
Keep up the care of your Fruit Salad Trees for bountiful fruits and enjoyment for years to come!
We stock a wide range of Fruit Salad Trees, which all boast different fruit on the same tree. Each fruit variety retains its own flavour, appearance and ripening time. We graft citrus, stonefruit and multi-apple trees.
Our fast fruiting trees can be grown in the ground, or in pots on your balcony.
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Unfortunately, like us, wildlife love feasting on a range of fruit fresh from the tree too! They love stone fruit, apples and citrus alike. Depending on the animal (possums, mice, birds, wallabies, rabbits, flying foxes) eating your fruit there are a few ways to prevent pesky fruit stealers! Read our brief guide to fruit tree pest control methods to keep your citrus, stone and apple trees pest free!
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