Fruit trees are always a welcome addition to any garden. However, they take up too much space and are relatively hard to maintain. The introduction of dwarf versions makes it possible to grow and enjoy fruits even in a limited space. Read on since we have researched how far apart you should plant dwarf fruit trees.
A dwarf fruit tree's mature canopy size determines the spacing or distance in between other trees. Since they reach a diameter of 8 to 10 feet, it is recommended to plant them 12 feet apart to provide proper aeration, adequate room for the foliage to grow, and to prevent nutrient competition.
In this article, we will talk about the factors to consider when growing your tree, proper care and maintenance, and its benefits and disadvantages.
Planting Dwarf Trees: What To Consider
There are several factors to consider when planting and growing dwarf fruit trees. The reason being is to maintain a healthy tree that generally yields high-quality fruits.
Location is an important factor to consider when planting dwarf fruit trees because it determines if your tree is able to grow, survive, and yield fruits.
First, determine the zone appropriate for your chosen tree and pick one suitable in the area where you live. Some varieties grow in mildly temperate regions, while other cultivars can survive in locations with cooler climates.
Details about the tree and the appropriate zone may be found on the package label. You can also check the USDA plant hardiness zone map for reference.
Proper orchard layout will generally increase yield and productivity since appropriate planning will cater to the plant’s development needs.
Dwarf fruit trees specifically require at least 12 feet of clearance or space on all sides. You may add another 3 to 5 feet of a gap as an allowance for the walkway.
Avoid planting the same tree too far from each other because some cultivars are not self-pollinating – they need other trees to pollinate as long as they are within the same species.
Tree’s Mature Size
The tree’s mature height and canopy size will determine the approximate spacing needed for planning the orchard layout. Dwarf fruit trees reach a height and foliage diameter of five to 12 feet, depending on the variety.
For an example, dwarf sour cherries grow up to eight feet tall while pears reach 12 feet in height, making the ideal spacing in between trees at least 12 feet away.
Why Fruit Tree Spacing Is Important
Here are the reasons why you should consider planting your dwarf fruit trees a few feet apart.
Foliage Growth And Sunlight Exposure
Photosynthesis takes place on the leaves of a plant or tree. It is an important process since it allows the tree to produce its food using energy from the sun.
If the trees are planted too close to each other, there will be no room for the foliage to grow. A small-sized canopy has a considerable effect on the plant’s overall fruit productivity because it will disrupt photosynthesis and limit the tree’s ability to make food for itself.
Less sunlight exposure results in low fruit quality and yield because the tree cannot sustain itself.
Proper Air Circulation
Trees grown in close proximity limits air circulation. Proper airflow is needed to prevent plant diseases and fungi proliferation.
To Avoid Competing For Nutrients
The roots of trees develop and spread in the same diameter as the canopy. That said, mature dwarf fruit trees have to be planted with the proper spacing layout to prevent them from competing for nutrients within the same environment.
Dwarf Fruit Trees: An Overview
Here is a comprehensive explanation of dwarf fruit trees, their benefits and disadvantages, and proper care and maintenance.
What Are Dwarf Fruit Trees
Dwarf fruit trees are produced by the process of grafting or joining a scion to a rootstock. The scion or bud is a cutting from a fruit tree that is selected for the type and quality of yield or produce. The rootstock determines the size, fruit-bearing age, maturity, resistance to infestation, and growth requirements and conditions of the tree.
Dwarf trees have become popular since they can be grown in small yards, gardens, patios, and other areas that would otherwise be too constricting for their average or standard sized counterparts. They produce the same size and quality fruits but in greater quantities.
Several trees with different fruits cultivated in a common area feature variety, convenience, and choice. Some cultivars may be planted in containers and grown indoors.
Care And Maintenance
Proper care and maintenance are important to keep your tree healthy and productive. Here are the ways you can do so:
Most fruit trees, including dwarf varieties, require full sunlight in order to thrive. Pick an open location in your yard or garden that would allow six to eight hours of light exposure a day. Don't plant them in fenced corners or under larger tree canopies since shade would impact their health and production.
If you intend to plant several trees, consider the mature foliage size or diameter and space them accordingly. Since the average height of dwarf trees is more or less equal to the canopy, a distance of 12 feet between adjacent trees is adequate.
Dwarf fruit trees prefer to be grown in loamy well-draining soil. Although they can grow and thrive in a wide range of soil acidity, it is ideal to plant them in environments with pH levels between 6 to 7.
It is suggested to begin planting during the spring when soil temperature can be worked on. If the soil is too compact, condition the area by adding compost onto the ground.
Dwarf trees feature shallow and limited root systems making them vulnerable to drought. It would be ideal for monitoring the soil moisture and hydrate once the topsoil appears dry.
Small trees are best treated with organic amendments such as compost or mulch. The root system is relatively shallow and weaker than regular varieties and is more sensitive to potent, manufactured fertilizers.
A layer of mulch composed of cut grass, dried leaves, wood chips or shavings, pebbles, and other materials would gradually provide natural nutrients while maintaining soil moisture and inhibiting weed growth.
Compost integrated with the growing medium would loosen the soil and improve water retention and drainage as well as air circulation. It encourages root development and increases the uptake of essential minerals.
While pruning helps control and determine the foliage shape, removing damaged or dead leaves and branches stimulates new growth and diverts nutrients into the healthier parts of the tree.
Pests And Diseases
Like standard sized trees, dwarf varieties are susceptible to infestation. Their relative size makes monitoring easier, but the nature of the roots tends to lower their resistance to pests and diseases.
After your tree has shown growth and early establishment, all-purpose chemicals can be used, but in diluted form. Home remedies like mild soap and water solutions sprayed on the foliage are effective against aphids and most forms of pests. Basically, try to prevent the infestation since dwarf trees are more fragile and susceptible.
Benefits And Disadvantages
The main advantage of growing dwarf trees is the space it occupies, any yard or garden can accommodate most varieties and enjoy the fruits. Whether planted in rows or groves, several trees would fit in an area that would otherwise be needed to contain a single regular-sized tree.
Dwarfed trees, especially apples, start to bear fruit just two to three years after being planted, whereas the standard variety usually takes seven to 10 years. This means you and your family can enjoy the fruits sooner since the harvest time has been reduced by more than half.
It is also possible to plant different fruit trees as long as they have similar nutritional requirements and thrive in identical environments. This gives you the option to grow several of your preferred fruits in a common, accessible area.
Dwarf trees are simpler and safer to monitor, maintain and care for due to their height and compact nature. You can prune, pick fruit and apply foliar fertilizer without ladders or special equipment. It is also easier to check for any infestation or signs of disease on the canopy, stems, and trunk.
Since dwarf trees reach limited heights, their root systems are not specialized for anchoring and are usually weak and shallow. It is necessary to stake or brace the trunk, especially during its development. And since the roots are not well spread and developed, it is necessary to water your tree frequently.
Dwarf trees produce fruit more quickly and generally mature earlier than their larger, standard varieties. They have an average productive life span of 10 to 15 years, then remain dormant, and eventually die. However, some cultivars reach 20 or so years before ceasing to produce fruits.
Some dwarf trees like apples give a heavy annual yield which the stems cannot fully support. Sometimes it would be necessary to pick half or even unripe fruits to prevent damage to your tree. Unless you control the production by manually picking the flowers, part of the produce would be wasted.
What Happens If Fruit Trees Are Planted Too Close To Each Other?
If fruit trees are planted too close together, the foliage will create shade, and as such, reducing sunlight penetration. Reduced light exposure will cause fungal diseases that can affect the overall health of your tree.
The different factors you have to consider when growing your dwarf fruit trees are the location, spacing, and the tree's mature size. We hope the article helped you determine which varieties to grow and how to cultivate them best.
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