Tree Care

Fruit Salad Trees have 2 special care requirements:
Keep the tree balanced
Establish a well ‘balanced’ tree by pruning back the more vigorous growing grafts, any time and regularly during the growing season. Thin out branching of each graft, if needed, to equalize growth vigour! Otherwise the more vigorous growers will become bigger and stronger and dominate, at the expense of the slower growers. This should be done once a month and is especially important while the tree is young and developing! Continue to maintain a 'balance' of growth for each graft, until mature height is reached. Hint: Keep each graft confined to grow in its own area of the tree, this will assist in recognizing the faster and slower growers.     

Remove rootstock growth 
Any new shoots emerging from the main central stem of the tree or from ground level, must be removed. This is the growth of the rootstock tree. Its purpose is to nourish the attached grafts. Citrus rootstock has long thorns and a small 3 pronged leaf, always remove this growth. Hint: Identify the different grafts growing from the main central stem (e.g. put a dab of paint), these are the anchor points of each graft. Check and remove all other growth from the central stem (rootstock).

Care Instructions leaflet
Our comprehensive care instructions leaflet accompanies each tree and covers basic care requirements for all fruit trees such as planting, fertilising, watering, sun requirements, pruning, shaping, disease protection.

Click to download care instructions or see below for more information on caring for your Fruit Salad Tree.
Seasonal Care Reminder Email
We send out a seasonal Care Reminder email including growing tips, care advice and current specials to all our subscribers. If you would like to subscribe to this service and get those emails delivered to you every season, simply subscribe below.

You can also download or view past Care Reminder emails here.

How to care for my tree
Is there any special care needed for Fruit Salad Trees?

Yes! There are 2 special care points for Fruit Salad Trees.

1. Keep the tree ‘balanced’.

While the tree is young, it's most important that a comparison is made between the growth and vigor of each fruit’s branch work (we call this branch work: graft). If one of the fruit grafts is growing faster, compared to the others, then it should be cut and stopped to ensure that each separate graft is growing at a ‘balanced’ and even rate. If all the grafts are not ‘balanced’ regularly, especially when the tree is young, then the faster growing grafts will become bigger, stronger and dominate over the others, thus depriving the slower growers of nutrients and growth.

We recommend to look at the tree for ‘balancing’ about once a month. BEST TO: Keep each graft confined to grow in its own area of the tree. This separation will assist in recognizing the faster and slower growers.

2. Remove Rootstock Growth.

Any ‘rootstock’ growth on the tree must be removed as soon as possible. To explain: the rootstock tree is the main central stem of the tree and its root system under the soil. This is the ‘mother’ tree and it hosts the fruit grafts that have been attached (grafted) to it. If the roots shoot any growth out from the soil, then cut it off as low as you can, as soon as you can. You don’t want that growth to take energy away from the fruit grafts attached higher up on the central stem. The anchor points of each fruit graft have been marked with some white paint on the central stem rootstock tree. This is the point from which each graft begins its growth so make sure you never cut these branches off. However, if any growth begins from a dormant eye anywhere else on the central stem rootstock tree, perhaps between the paint marks, then remove it, as it would be rootstock growth.

Are my fruit varieties suitable for my climate?

Some fruit varieties are not suitable for all climates.  If you try and grow a variety in an unsuitable area, your tree may not fruit. You can check your climate and suitability of the fruits on your tree by clicking on our Climate Map Here. You can also check specific fruit varieties and their requirements by looking at the Variety Information Table for each tree type on the Tree Info Pages here.

Generally, Tropical / Warm / Temperate climates can grow the Stonefruit tree (tropical varieties), the Citrus fruit tree and the Temperate Apple tree.

Cold climates can grow the Stonefruit tree, the Citrus fruit tree (to -8 degrees), and both the Cold climate and Temperate varieties of Apple.

Can I espalier my tree?

All our trees can be espaliered. This method saves space and is especially helpful for Apple trees as it provides extra support for heavy cropping. 

To espalier means to sculpt or train your tree to grow in a certain way. Many gardeners espalier their fruit trees to grow flat against a wall, fence or courtyard.

Espaliering can save space, however, it's also used in wide open spaces to promote growth and can also be used to create fruit tree sculptures and there are some fantastically creative fruit tree sculptures out there! Check them out on the ABC Gardening Australia website.

You can not only aesthetically control the shape of your tree, but you’ll also be supporting its branches to hold fruit. Read more about what to do when your tree first sets fruit here.

We recommend espaliering the growth into a fan shape rather than a semi-circle so the tree grows upright rather than horizontally, which may put pressure on the outer horizontal grafts. The fan shape will also allow the tree to grow faster.

Sunlight needs to reach all branches and fruit, so it’s best to direct growth to allow sunlight to hit the middle of the tree, you can do this by positioning the branches so there’s a V shape between each branch. 

You can espalier your tree along a wall on your balcony or against a fence in your backyard.

What are the sun requirements for my tree?

It is best to place your tree in a position with full day sun. A minimum of half day (4-5 hours) of sunshine is required.  Stone Fruits and Apples trees don’t need sun during late Autumn and into Winter because they’re dormant at this time. The Citrus trees need sunshine all year.

It is also best to plant your tree somewhere that is sheltered from strong winds if possible.

Do I need to prune my tree in winter?

Apart from the continual pruning for shape and balance, apply annual pruning to Fruit Salad Trees in early winter. Prune 1/3 (young tree) to 1⁄2 (mature tree) of the current year's growth, remembering to cut above an outward bud. The colour of the bark will indicate the amount of growth for the last season (usually lighter green or brown than the darker older wood from previous years growth).

Do I need to spray my tree?

It is very important to spray the tree at certain times of the year for the prevention of diseases and to control insects. See our Pest and Disease Guide for spraying guidelines and timing.

How often should I water my tree?

Keep your tree moist at all times, watering more often during the hotter months. A good layer of mulch promotes a more consistent moisture level. Weekly deep watering is best, i.e. leave hose on trickle overnight. This promotes a deeper root development for the tree, rather than surface watering. Reduce watering habits for dormant trees during the winter months. 

When should I fertilise my tree?

Fertilise 2 to 3 times a year! APPLY late winter, early summer and Early Autumn. Cow or animal manure (older is better) and compost are excellent fertilisers. Otherwise suggestions would be: a slow release fertiliser (Osmocote with added trace elements) mixed into the soil, Blood and Bone, Dynamic Lifter or equivalent. No more than one or two of these fertilisers to each application. From time to time kitchen scraps can be added under the mulch to attract earthworms (If no dogs are about!).

Note: When using fertilisers, keep from direct contact with trunk of the tree. And top up mulch when required. 

Leaves falling off: Winter dormancy

You may have noticed the leaves on your Stonefruit or Apple Fruit Salad Tree turning yellow and brown and starting to drop off your tree! Don't be alarmed, this is perfectly normal as your tree is preparing to go dormant for the winter months. Eventually most or all of the leaves will drop off your tree. If they haven't dropped off by July, you can remove them yourself.

TIP: Remember now is the time to spray your Stonefruit tree with Lime Sulphur for its annual winter clean up spray. See Pests and Diseases on the Tree Care Menu.

Why are my Fruits (branches) waking up from dormancy at different times?

You may have noticed the buds swelling and some of your Stone Fruit branches setting flowers and fruit while other branches are still looking dormant. You need to remember that the different fruits on your Stone Fruit Salad Tree wake up from dormancy at different times!! Don't be alarmed! Usually, the Peaches and Nectarines wake up first, then up to a month later, the Apricots and Plums begin to wake up. Exact timings will vary due to climate variations. Relax, don't be concerned when all the branches don't wake up together.

How to plant your tree in a pot.

Yes you can plant your Fruit Salad Tree in a pot! Great for Balconies and Patio areas, or for people who want to be able to move the tree around, or even move house!  Growing your tree in a pot will also reduce the size of the tree to about two thirds the size the tree would grow in the ground. We recommend starting with a 12 inch pot and potting up each year.  As a guide, in the second year, you would repot into an 18 inch pot or similar.  You can also plant you tree directly into a large pot i.e. half wine barrel size or larger, if you don't want to pot up every year.  Make sure you feed your tree at least 4 times a year to keep it growing well.

Fruit Salad Trees can be planted in pots at any time of the year. Terracotta pots look great but can lose water, read more about sealing them here.

Plant your tree late in the day when the weather is cooler if you have the option.

Quarter fill a bucket and pour over the tree to wet the roots, and then remove from the bag by cutting it with a knife.

Knock off about half of the existing soil and tease the roots out.

Place in the centre of your pot ensuring the tree is pointing straight up.

Fill with potting mix leaving a 2-3cm gap.

Add a layer of fertilizer but make sure it doesn't touch the stem of the tree so that it doesn't rot the trunk.

Sprinkle with a slow release fertiliser

Water to settle the soil

Add a thick layer of mulch to hold the moisture

Lastly, keep a tray under the pot to catch excess nutritious water so that your tree can reabsorb.

It's best to replace with a larger pot each year as the tree grows so that you'll end up with a large pot which is a similar to half of a wine barrel in size. You can keep the same pot size, however, note that the size of the tree and the amount of normal size fruit will be determined by the size of the pot.

How to plant your tree in the ground.

Planting your tree in the ground is a good option as it will allow your tree to grow to its full height and therefore give you the maximum amount of fruit. 

Fruit Salad Trees can be planted in the ground at any time of year.

To plant in the ground:

Cut off the plastic bag

Dig a shallow hole (not too deep to allow drainage)

Knock off about half of the existing soil and tease the roots out.

Place tree in the hole (half of the base should be sticking up from ground level). Ensure the tree is pointing straight up.

Fill with potting mix

Add a layer of fertilizer but make sure it doesn't touch the stem of the tree so that it doesn't rot the trunk.

Sprinkle with a slow release fertilizer

Water to settle the soil

Add a thick layer of mulch to hold the moisture

Plant your trees at least three metres apart if you want the canopies of neighbouring trees to touch when the trees are full grown.

TIP: If you are concerned about your soil quality, buy some garden soil from your local garden centre and plant your tree into that. If you have heavy or clay soils, plant your tree on top of the ground and mound soil up onto it. This will prevent your trees from becoming waterlogged.

Do I remove the first fruits on my tree?

When your Fruit Salad Tree begins to bear its first fruit, it's a momentous occasion! You'll be tempted to sit back and let your tree continue to develop its array of different fruit, however, it's best to let the tree use its energy to grow sturdy framework rather than letting the new fruit pull down the young branches.

Selectively removing young fruits on your fruit tree is called thinning. 

The first fruits on your Fruit Salad Tree will appear anywhere between six and 18 months. Remove these fruits when they're the size of a pea to allow your tree to use the energy to grow and develop a sturdy framework, which needs to be ahead of any fruit production.

More fruit may be allowed to set on faster-growing grafts, but always reduce fruit on slower growing grafts to balance your tree.

Training the shape of your tree.

Branches of young Fruit Salad Trees can be gently persuaded to grow in any direction. You can guide them using bamboo stakes (or similar) and cloth strip ties made of old T-shirts. This technique may be useful for training Fruit Salad Trees against walls/structures (espalier) or directing individual grafts.

Despite our best efforts, sometimes the grafts (branches) of Fruit Salad Trees grow along the one side of the rootstock or Mother Tree. Such trees can be gently nudged to grow in a desired direction by:

Manoeuvring branches away from one another by staking and tying. Young branches are very flexible, however, if the desired position requires a dramatic change in branch direction, training should be done gradually. This may mean moving the stake and ties every few weeks until branches are where you want them.

Planting the tree so that the main stem is on an angle - i.e. the rootball is on an angle). This can improve branch positioning in relation to a slope when planted or improve the look of your tree. It may look odd at first – but your tree will adapt to the new position and put on new growth in a more desired direction.

Sign up for 10% off!

Sign up for 10% off your first order and regular care reminders and specials. You can unsubscribe at any time.