GROWING AN ESPALIER FRUIT TREE
Espalier trees are single or combination variety trees that have been bud grafted and pruned to grow horizontally against a flat surface or as a living fence. Popularized in the middle ages as a way to grow fruit against the stone walls of a castle courtyard, espalier fruit trees remain a good strategy for growers with limited space. Espalier trees come in several varieties and depending on the grower’s goals may require specific pruning and trellis supports, so it is important to choose one that is right for your area.
Espalier trees can be grown to various heights through intensive and selective pruning. For a shorter tree it is important to choose a rootstock that will meet your needs.
Unless otherwise noted, all apples, pears, and Asian pears need another variety of apple nearby to pollinate each other. Use the apple pollination chart to determine which pollinizer tree variety is the right choice. While some apples and pears are self-fertile, generally a pollination partner will increase the size and quality of the harvest. Varieties in the overlapping flower groups will pollinize each other
Many plums and cherries are self-fertile and require no pollinator, however some varieties are not. Unless otherwise noted, sweet cherries with only pollinate with sweet cherries and sour cherries will only pollinate with sour cherries. Likewise Japanese plums pollinate only Japanese plums and European plums pollinate only European plums.
Pollination is important during your orchard planning as well, since you need pollinators to fly between your fruit trees. The pollinizers should be planted no further than 50 feet apart, to ensure proper cross-pollination.
USDA HARDINESS ZONE
Fruit trees are hardy to USDA zones 4-9, unless otherwise noted . This rating tells you the minimum winter temperature the plants typically survive when properly hardened off. On our web site you will find aUSDA Hardiness Maps which provides information on the average minimum winter temperature in your location, by zip code.
Fruit trees need a certain number of chill hours per year, which means that you need to pair the chill hours to your climate. If you live in the south or an especially temperate area, you will want to choose a variety of apricot classified as “low-chill”. This means they have a lower required amount of hours the temperature is below 45F degrees.
WHERE TO PLANT YOUR TREE
Fruit trees need to be planted where they receive at least 8 hours of full sunlight. People often don’t realize that it is the sun that ripens the fruit, and without enough of it your apples will never fully mature.
Fruit trees like well-drained soil, nothing too wet. Soil can be somewhat rocky and sandy, but needs to be moderately rich and retain moisture as well as air. Clay soil should be amended prior to planting, but can be accomplished by mixing in coco-coir and perlite to improve drainage.