Deciduous fruit trees for winter planting

Bare-rooted plants are sold in winter when dormant, giving them the best chance of being replanted or transplanted successfully.

Deciduous trees can be purchased as potted or bare root specimens. Bare root refers to no soil held around the roots at the time of purchase. They are usually from cooler regions and are easier to transport and transplant into their final position in the garden. The bare root plants are not often seen after August as they have started to reshoot and are potted up by the nurseries. In tropical or sub-tropical regions, deciduous fruit trees are sold potted but are often in better supply in winter.

Apples and peach trees make you think of cool climate, but tropical varieties are also available. ‘Tropical’ varieties signal they don’t need cool temperatures to set fruit. Apple varieties such as ‘Tropical Anna’ and ‘Golden Dorset’ are excellent producers in the sub tropics and surprise you with their abundance in fruit, and are available in dwarf varieties. It is recommended you plant both varieties for cross pollination and increased yield. Varieties of tropical or low chill peaches, apricots, nectarines and a few cherries are available to broaden your fruit tree experience. Though not a fruit tree, low chill varieties of blueberries are common now but with all these fruits, care should be taken to keep pests at bay. The Tropical ‘Angel Peach’ fruits early in the season and is spared from the worst of the fruit fly season.

In cooler regions the availability of deciduous trees to plant is huge, and the range is large enough always to find something new, only the size of the yard restricts your planting.  Dwarf varieties are ideal as they usually grow half the height of the original variety, but the crop is still very significant. Planting a fruit tree when it is deciduous causes less stress on the tree, as it is dormant and easier to transport. The general rule for a fruit tree is to be planted in full sun and allow plenty of room around the tree for when it is fully developed. Overcrowding will lead to damage, disease and pest issues.

Winter is not the main planting time for some deciduous trees, such as Ficus Brown Turkey or Black Genoa, as they are not glamorous as bare branches.  Depending on the region some fruit trees do not lose all their leaves or lose them for only a short time. 

Reputable garden centres should sell only quality stock but it’s still a good philosophy to examine before you buy. Avoid specimens with brittle branches that can break easily; they should feel sturdy and fairly flexible. Also, avoid specimens with visible damage or disease. Always read the labels to know their mature size and give the plant adequate room to grow into the space you allot them.


Hot tips for planting bare-rooted deciduous trees.


tip 1 Plant the tree as soon as possible after purchase.

tip 2 Don’t plant too deep. The tree needs to be at the same depth as its original position. Look for a slight change in colouration on the base of the stem to indicate the original soil line.  The graft should sit about 10cm or higher above the ground as a guide.

tip 3 Remember to keep the roots moist. If you are not planting immediately, wrap the roots in wet newspaper and a plastic bag.

tip 4 Before planting, remove any diseased/damaged roots.

tip 5 Plant the trees in a low-density soil, containing high quality composted organic and natural components, 5 IN 1 Organic Fertiliser, premium compost, such as Searles Fruit, Citrus & Rose Specialty Mix

tip 6 Place the plant in the hole, spreading the roots into a natural position. Building a mound at the base of the hole may help steady the plant. When backfilling, wiggle the tree and water the roots to help remove any air pockets. Loosely stake it until established.

tip 7 Water immediately after planting, but don’t overwater when dormant.

tip 8 Apply SeaMax Organic Fertiliser Liquid with initial watering to help the plant develop roots and resist transplant shock. Start applying fertiliser when growth resumes in spring. 

Check Also

Vegetable growing for one or small spaces

Whether you cook for one or two or have little room for a big veggie …

Leave a Reply