Planting Fruit Trees And Fruit Tree Maintenance


These can be obtained as single stem cordons, espaliers, bushes, pyramids, half-standards and standards. They will grow well in any reasonably good and properly drained soil and like an open, sunny situation with free circulation of air. A few varieties, notably Bramley’s Seedling, Blenheim Orange and Ribston Pippin, are self-sterile, which means that their flowers will only set fruit if fertilized with pollen from a different variety of apple. Such varieties are unsuitable for planting alone. Other varieties will fruit even in complete isolation from other varieties but all fruit more freely if other varieties, flowering at approximately the same time, are growing nearby.

Apples are nearly always grafted or budded on to a stock and, for garden planting, stocks that encourage early fruit-fulness and only a moderate amount of growth are best, such as M 7, M 9, and MM 106.

Some apples ripen on the tree in late summer or early autumn. These are known as early varieties. Others are not fully ripe at the time they are about to fall and must therefore be stored for a while, those that ripen quickly in store being known as mid-season varieties and those that are not ready until mid-winter or later as late varieties.

Apples are picked when they part readily from the tree. They store best in a cool, rather moist atmosphere such as a shed with an earthen floor. In warm dry rooms they are apt to shrivel.

In gardens, scab is the commonest disease. It produces black blotches on the leaves and dark scabs, sometimes developing into cracks, on the fruits. It is controlled by spraying with captan or lime sulphur in spring and summer. Greenfly may attack the leaves and young shoots in spring and summer. They can be killed by spraying with malathion, lindane or derris as soon as seen.

Caterpillars may eat the young leaves. They can be killed by spraying with lindane or diazinon as soon as seen.

Maggoty apples are due to attacks by the grubs of the apply sawfly in early summer or the caterpillars of the codling moth a few weeks later. These can be controlled by protective spraying in late spring or early summer with lindane or derris.

Apples should be fed annually in late winter with a compound fertilizer supplying nitrogen and potash. Special fruit fertilizers are prepared by most fertilizer manufacturers, or a general fertilizer such as National Growmore can be used.

Trained apples are usually pruned in summer and autumn or winter. Large bush, half-standard and standard apples are usually pruned lightly in autumn or winter.

Some varieties of apple are only suitable for cooking, some only for dessert, while a few, known as dual-purpose apples, can be used either for cooking or for dessert.



Arthur Turner mid-season

Bramley’s Seedling mid to late

Early Victoria early

Edward VII late

Grenadier early to mid

Lane’s Prince Albert late


Beauty of Bath early

Cox’s Orange Pippin late

Egremont Russet mid-season

Ellison’s Orange mid-season

Epicure early

Fortune mid-season

James Grieve early

Lord Lambourne mid-season

Sunset mid-season

Tydeman’s Late Orange late


There are excellent cultivated varieties of blackberry, such as Parsley-leaved, John Innes and Merton Thornless, which are well worth growing in the garden trained on fences or against wires strained between posts. They will thrive in any reasonable soil and sunny place, are not much attacked by pests or diseases and are pruned after the crop has been gathered in summer, when all canes that have fruited are cut out and the best of the young are tied in their place.


The sweet or dessert cherries are all vigorous and as no really dwarfing stocks are available for them, they are not very suitable for small gardens. Moreover, they are all self-sterile, which means that each variety is unable to set fruit when pollinated with its own pollen. Not only must it have pollen from another cherry but it must be a cherry of a particular group, so two sweet cherries are the minimum for a garden unless a neighbour will co-operate and grow one that is a suitable pollinator. Each tree will reach a height and spread of 20 ft (6 m), perhaps more, but it will pay for its space by carrying a splendid crop of white blossom each spring, followed by white, black or red fruits.

By contrast the best of the sour or cooking cherries, the morello, makes a quite low, rather spreading tree and does not at all mind being trained in the form of a fan against a wall or fence. Moreover, it is fully self-fertile and so one morcllo cherry can be planted with every prospect of a good crop of its handsome black fruits every year. The method of pruning these fan-trained trees is as for fan-trained peaches.

All cherries like light, well-drained soils and do well on chalk add limestone. Sweet cherries should be pruned lightly after the crop has been gathered, all that is necessary being to remove badly placed or overcrowded branches.

The principal disease is bacterial canker which often attacks trees at the crotch or point of branching. The bark is killed and gum may exude in quantity. Round holes appear in the leaves and whole branches wither and die. Such branches should be cut off and trees may be sprayed with a copper fungicide such as Bordeaux mixture in late summer or early autumn but this is a difficult disease to control. Fortunately it rarely attacks the morello cherry.

Suitable varieties of sweet cherry to plant. Any one of which will pollinate any other, are Bigarreau Napoleon, yellow to red, late; Governor Wood, yellow to red, mid-season; Kent Bigarreau, yellow to red, mid-season; Merton Bigarreau, black, late, and Early Rivers, black fruits, mid-season.

Currant, Black

Usually grown as bushes but if these are planted about 3 ft (im) apart they will soon meet and can be used as a screen or division between one part of the garden and another. Black currants like rich, rather moist soil and will grow in full sun or partial shade. They may be pruned either immediately after fruiting or in autumn or winter, and as many as possible of the old stems are cut out but all the strong young stems are retained.

The principal pest is the big bud mite. Which infests the buds and causes them to swell up in winter. Such buds should be picked off and burned and the bushes sprayed with lime sulphur in spring when the trusses of unopened flowers hang like tiny bunches of green grapes.

The principal disease is reversion, caused by a virus which may be spread from bush to bush by the big bud mite. The leaves become smaller, bunched at the tips of the shoots and with fewer and less well-defined lobes. There is no cure and affected bushes should be dug up and burned.

Recommended varieties are Boskoop Giant and Mendip Cross, early; Wellington XXX, mid-season, and Amos Black and Baldwin, late.

Currant, Red and White

The red and white currants are simply colour variations of the same fruit. They grow and fruit in exactly the same way and require similar soil and treatment. But they are quite distinct from the black currant, have a different origin and require different treatment.

The red and white currants like ordinary soil which is reasonably well drained and moderately rich. They stand pruning well and can be grown as cordons with one, two or three main stems, as well as in the more ordinary form of bushes which will attain a height of 4 or 5 ft (1-25 to 1-501) and similar spread but can be kept smaller by pruning.

Red and white currants bear their fruit on the older branches. Pruning is usually done in autumn when all side shoots are cut back to within about an inch of the main branches, which themselves can be allowed to extend until available space is filled. When trained as cordons, sideshoots can be shortened in summer exactly as with apples and pears.

These currants do not suffer greatly from pests or diseases, though greenfly sometimes attacks them. If it does, spray at once with malathion or derris.

Good varieties are Laxtons No. 1 and Red Lake, red, and White Dutch and White Versailles, white.


These grow well in most soils and are not at all difficult to manage. Usually they are grown as bushes, the branches of which are simply thinned each autumn to prevent them becoming overcrowded. When thinning, it is the oldest stems that should be removed and the sturdiest of the younger stems (which can be distinguished by their smoother, lighter coloured bark) retained. But where space is limited, gooseberries can be trained as cordons with one, two or three main stems, in which case all side shoots are cut back to about an inch each autumn or they can be summer and autumn pruned like apples and pears.

Gooseberries should be fed each year in late winter with a compound fertilizer rich in potash. They are occasionally severely attacked by caterpillars, when they should be sprayed at once with derris or lindane. The most troublesome disease is American gooseberry mildew, which produces a dense, felt-like mould on fruits and leaves. If this disease proves troublesome gooseberries should be sprayed in late spring and early summer just before the flowers open, at fruit set, and fruit swelling, 14-21 days later, with dinocap. There are green, yellow and red and white varieties. Good examples of each are Keepsake, green; Leveller, yellow; Whinham’s Industry, red, and Careless, white.

Peach and Nectarine

These fruits, though superficially different, are actually closely connected, the nectarine simply being a smooth-skinned version of the peach. It follows that their cultivation is identical. Since both flower very early in the spring and their blossom is easily destroyed by frost, they are more suitable for warm and sheltered than for cold and exposed places. They thrive in good, well-drained soils and may readily be trained in fan formation against a wall or fence. A sunny situation suits them best.

They bear their fruit on year-old stems and the object in pruning is to ensure a sufficiency of these.

The fruits themselves should be thinned, a little at a time, starting when they are the size of cobnuts and finishing when the stones have formed in them. One fruit to every square foot (30 cm square) is a fair average.

Late-ripening varieties are only suitable for greenhouse cultivation, except in very mild places. Good early or mid-season varieties of peach are Duke of York and Peregrine, and of nectarine Early Rivers and Lord Napier.

The most troublesome disease is leaf curl which causes a thickening, reddening and curling of the leaves. It can be checked by spraying in late winter or spring with a copper fungicide such as Bordeaux mixture.


These like good, well-drained soils and warm, sunny positions. They make excellent trained trees in single stem cordon or espalier (horizontal) form but for this purpose they must be grafted on the quince stock, which is moderately dwarfing.

Nurserymen sometimes use seedling pear as a stock and this makes a much larger tree not really suitable for gardens.

As with apples, there are a few varieties of pears which are completely self-sterile; this means that they cannot produce a crop unless pollinated by a different variety of pear. Jargonelle, Pitmaston Duchess, Vicar of Winkfield and Marguerite Marillat are of this kind. Most varieties will produce some fruit if the blossom is self-pollinated but all bear much better crops if fertilized with pollen from other varieties. It is, therefore, unwise to plant pears in isolation.

Pears are pruned just like apples, the trained trees in summer, with a little further tidying up in autumn or winter, bush and standard trees in autumn or winter mainly by thinning out overcrowded branches and shortening any that are getting too long for convenience.

Pears that ripen at the end of summer or early autumn are eaten as soon as they part readily from the tree. Later pears may be picked in mid-autumn and stored until they are ripe but it is sometimes rather difficult to tell when this is. The ripening process with pears is more sudden than it is with apples and they must be watched more closely. Ripening fruits feel softer, particularly around the stalk, and develop a characteristic smell, but often the only reliable test is to cut a sample fruit in half. Pears must be stored in a drier, warmer atmosphere than apples. A room or airy cupboard suits them well or a shed with a wooden floor.

Some varieties suffer badly from scab disease and these should be avoided in gardens. Aphids may attack the leaves and young shoots but can be controlled by spraying with malathion. Lindane or derris as soon as these pests are seen.

Reliable varieties for the garden are Jargonelle,early; Beurre Hardy. Conference and Beurre Superfin. All mid-season, and Josephine de Malines, late. Near large towns or in fairly dry areas, where scab disease is not troublesome. Williams’ Bon Chretien, early, and Doyenne du Cornice. Mid-season to late, can also be planted.


The principal difficulty about plums in the garden is that they tend to make big trees and do not take kindly to hard pruning. But some varieties are fully self-fertile and one such tree on its own can be expected to produce good crops. If there is room for one fairly large standard tree it might well be an easily grown plum, such as Victoria, Pershore Egg or Warwickshire Drooper. But these are not fruits of the highest quality and the delicious gage plums, such as the Old Greengage, Laxton’s Early Gage and Dennistons Superb, are more difficult to grow. Fortunately they are also less vigorous and if grafted on the Mussel or Brompton slock make good fan-trained trees for sunny walls and fences.

All plums like good, well-drained but not dry soils. Bushes and standard trees only need light pruning, mainly the thinning of overcrowded branches and shortening of any that grow too long, and this is best done in late summer as soon as the crop has been gathered.

Trained trees are summer pruned, badly-placed shoots being rubbed out early and the tips of others pinched out when they are 5 or6in(i3 to 15cm) long. By this means the whole available wall or fence space can be covered without overcrowding.

The worst disease of plums is silver leaf. Caused by a fungus which gets right into the branches. The leaves develop a very distinctive silvery sheen in summer, not to be confused with mildew which causes a powdery white outgrowth on the surface of the leaf. Branches showing leaf silvering should be cut oil’ and burned at once and wounds painted with Stockholm tar. Warm grafting wax or a tree wound dressing.

A particular blue-grey aphis attacks plums causing the leaves to crinkle and become sticky. It can be controlled by spraying as soon as it is seen with malathion. Lindane or derris.


The fruits of summer-ripening varieties are borne on year-old canes produced directly from the roots and after fruiting their place is taken by a new growth of canes. Autumn-ripening varieties bear on the current year’s growth. The soil in which raspberries are planted must be sufficiently rich to support this annual cane growth and at the same time nourish the ripening crop of fruit. For this reason. And also because they do not like being dried out in summer, raspberries benefit from an annual dressing of well-rotted manure or garden refuse spread an inch or two thick for a width of 2 or 3ft (60cm to 1 m) on either side of each row every spring.

Young canes are planted in autumn or winter. 18 in (45cm) apart in rows 6ft (2111) apart and are immediately cut back to within 4 in (10cm) of ground level. No fruit will be produced the first summer, except perhaps in autumn varieties, but each root should produce several new canes which are tied to wires stretched between strong posts driven firmly into the ground and extending at least 5UI (1-75111) above the ground. Two wires, one at 3ft (nn), the other at 51 ft (1-75111), are usually sufficient.

These canes will fruit the following summer and as soon as the crop has been gathered are cut out. Young canes are trained in their place but not more than about seven per root. If more grow, the weakest, or those furthest from the row, are cut out. Autumn varieties are pruned in a different way. The previous year’s canes being cut almost to soil level in late winter.

Three of the most reliable varieties are Mailing Exploit. Mailing Promise and Norfolk Giant. Lloyd George is superior in flavour and gives some autumn fruits as well as a summer crop, but it is susceptible to virus disease. September is a good autumn-ripening variety.

Virus is the commonest disease of rasp-berries. It stunts growth, reduces the crop and causes a mottled yellowing of the leaves. There is no cure and affected plants should be destroyed.


There are three main classes of strawberry; the summer-fruiting varieties. Which have large fruits ripening early in mid-summer; the perpetual or remontant varieties, which produce smaller fruits more or less continuously from mid-summer to autumn, and alpine strawberries which are also small fruited and continuous cropping but which produce no runners and so must be raised from seed sown in a frame or sheltered place in spring.

All strawberries like good, well-cultivated soil, neither very dry nor waterlogged. They deteriorate quickly and plantations should be remade at least every three years.

Most strawberries produce runners in summer and along the length of these are small plantlets which root themselves into the soil. These runners must be removed except when required for producing new stock. Even then only about four per plant should be retained, from healthy plants only, and only one plantlet, that nearest to the parent plant, should be retained on each runner. This plantlet is pegged with a piece of wire, bent like a hairpin, into a 3-in (8-cm) flower pot filled with good soil and sunk into the ground conveniently close to the parent plant. If this is done about midsummer the plantlets will be rooted into the pots by late summer, the runners attaching them to the parent plant can be severed and a week or so later the pots can be lifted, the plants carefully tapped out and planted to form a new bed.

Nurserymen raise thousands of such plants annually and it is better to purchase new plants than to raise them at home because of the difficulty of excluding disease.

Late summer to early autumn is the best planting period, though strawberries can also be planted in spring. They are spaced 2 ft (60cm) apart with the topmost rootsjust covered with soil.

In late spring the strawberry bed is covered with clean straw, special mats or black polythene film to keep the fruits clean and as these commence to ripen they are protected from bird attack with nets. After all the crop has been gathered, the remaining leaves are cut off and the straw is burned where it lies, so cleaning the plants of pests and diseases. New growth will appear in a week or so as the fast-burning straw does not kill the plants.

Good summer-fruiting varieties are Cam-bridge Favourite, Red Gauntlet, Grandee and Royal Sovereign, but the last is very subject to virus disease and it is essential to obtain virus-free plants. Good perpetual-fruiting varieties are Hampshire Maid, Gento and Sans Rivale. A good alpine strawberry is Baron Solemacher.

Strawberries suffer from numerous virus diseases which do not kill them but weaken them and reduce cropping. These viruses cause patchy yellowing of the leaves, leaf crinkling, dwarfing of plants and other symptoms. There is no remedy, but if virus-free plants are obtained every second or third year and all old plants are destroyed.

Virus diseases should not prove a serious problem. Likely to be more troublesome is grey mould disease which attacks the fruits causing them to rot. It is most prevalent in wet seasons and on heavy soils. Spray in late spring and early summer with captan.