Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Category Archives: Tree orders and deliveries

End-of-season notification

This 2018-19 season has been marked by higher than average demand for fruit trees. This has most likely been caused by the strong increase in the number of new homes and gardens, as well as the unusually warm weather experienced earlier in the season, which affected the fruit trees’ dormancy status. The sale of fruit trees on our website will end on Wednesday 20 March.

Young fruit trees ready for delivery

Fruit trees for planting along a wall or fence

Would you like a fruit tree, or a few trees, for training along a wall or a solid fence? This is of course possible, and we can provide the advice needed to ensure that they do well. More information on our Fruit tree varieties page.

Fruit trees are site-specific, and a wall or fence can considerably modify the micro-climate for the fruit tree.

A fence or wall is the classic position for a trained fruit tree. See our web page on tree training for further details.

Once we have received your no-obligation request, we will provide recommendations on suitability of tree varieties according to your location by email. For any general requests, please feel free to contact us by e-mail or using the Contact form on this page.

Fan-shaped tree

This late, late season, and how it can be useful for planting new trees

As you will have noticed, many trees that would normally have lost their leaves are still photosynthesizing, and roots are still fully active. This situation was caused by the relatively high air and soil temperatures at crucial stages of the year, and it has both positive and negative effects.

The negative effect is the increased amounts of fungal spores in the garden or orchard. It is important to collect leaves as they fall, remove them from the area, and burn them (or dispose of them in your food and garden waste bin if you are in a city). Don’t compost them, because this just gives the fungal spores another chance to infect your plants and trees.

The positive effect is that the tree is able to store resources in its root system, which will give it a better start next year and improve crops.

Read our month-by-month fruit tree care calendar.


Photo courtesy of Maja Dumat/


Growing fruit trees in containers

A potted tree at Kew. Photo courtesy of Tampa Librarian/

A potted tree at Kew. Photo courtesy of Tampa Librarian/

To plant a fruit tree in a container is easy enough. To keep the tree growing well and cropping well over a number of years is easier said than done. The reason is straightforward. By its very nature, a fruit tree is capable of looking after itself very well, providing the tree’s root system can fully explore the soil at considerable depth and width all around. The tree cannot do this if we restrict its rooting environment to a pot or a container of any size.

It is therefore very important to realize, once the tree is planted in a container, that the tree is no longer capable of looking after itself during the growing season. Obviously, the larger the container, the greater the volume of soil available to the tree. This in turn will mean that there is more soil available for the tree to explore.

Assuming the tree is provided with a regular water supply, by some means of irrigation, a larger tree can be maintained. Therefore the first principle to take in account is what final tree size is desired for the long term. Container size is therefore a very important decision.

Also one needs to take in account the fact that by means of tree training and summer pruning, a smaller tree canopy can be maintained. Espaliers, cordons, and fan-shaped trees are all realistic possibilities. A fruit tree in a smaller pot will by nature remain a smaller plant and therefore needs less pruning and is easier to maintain.

However a small tree will have a reduced cropping capability. It is as well to remember that in general terms about 30 healthy green leaves are needed for each apple, bringing the fruit to maturity and optimum size.

Size of the container

Regarding the size of the pot or container, you can start with a pot with a rim size of 15 to 20 cm. However after year two, the tree needs to be repotted to a larger pot with a 25 to 30 cm rim. The ideal container needs to be at least 45 cm in width, with a minimum depth of 40 cm. Also it is just as well to remember that if the tree is placed on a patio or near a wall, it is liable to blow over and therefore needs to be secured. This of course is of less importance when the tree is placed inside a building. In that case it is just as well to remember the tree will need plenty of light in order to do well.

Type of container

Plastic pots should not be placed in full sun as the roots like to be growing in moist compost of moderate temperatures, and plastic in the sun gets hot and transfers the heat to the soil. Plastic pots in the shade are fine. Half an oak barrel or the equivalent is fine too. Smaller wooden containers have a tendency to dry out too quickly. Metal containers in the long term are less suitable. Large clay pots are very well suited for fruit trees.

Soil and fertilizer

Make sure that whichever container is chosen, there are good-sized drainage holes in the bottom, loosely covered with pieces of terracotta pots to stop the holes from closing in future years. The best compost for trees in containers is John Innes compost No 3. It is an advantage to mix some grit into the compost in order to keep the soil-based compost open enough for water to travel right through the container and not just along the sides. Mix some slow release fertilizer into the compost. Follow the instructions on the packet. Too much fertilizer will harm the tree and weaken the root system. When filling the container, leave some room at the top without compost to make watering easier. Do make sure that the compost is thoroughly wetted after planting and maintain the moisture content of the compost throughout the growing season. As mentioned above, the tree will need to be fed annually. The best time to do this is in the spring. During the summer months, foliar feeding is of great benefit to the tree, provided you follow the instructions on the packet closely.


Regarding pests, it is important to control greenfly/aphids and caterpillar. Fungal diseases such as mildew, scab, canker and brown rot can sometimes be a problem. A garden centre stocks various products which will help to control these diseases.
All types of birds love to peck or eat fruit. Have a net handy before the fruit is at the vulnerable stage.


Apples, pears, plums and cherries all can be grown in large containers. However the variety and rootstock used need to be chosen with care.
Good advice is a help once the particular situation and spot for the tree/trees are known. Pollination requirements need to be taken in consideration if regular fruiting is wished for.

Fruit storage

Once the fruit has been picked it will keep best at the bottom of the fridge. 3 to 4 degrees Celsius is the optimum storage temperature for fruit.

Click here to read another article on soil and containers for trees grown in containers.

Photo courtesy of Garden Organic/

Photo courtesy of Garden Organic/

Maiden and Bush trees

Planting a tree. Photo courtesy of FO Littleover Parks/

Planting a tree. Photo courtesy of FO Littleover Parks/

One particularly important factor in a fruit tree from a supplier is whether it is a Maiden or a Bush tree.

A Maiden is generally a tree in its first year, consisting of a single stem. For a few varieties, this may have a few initial side branches, but most will not. The buds on a maiden are mainly wood buds. So there is no chance of any fruit crop in the year after planting.

A Bush tree is a 2 to 3 year-old tree, ususally with several side branches, usually with a good number of fruit buds. Fruit buds are essential for early cropping. A bush tree is also helpful because the side branches are ready to develop into the main framework of the tree, with a “fruit table” positioned for comfortable picking. Not all fruit trees form side branches in the second year, but, if it is an apple, in any case the tree will start to produce fruit on the central stem. By nature, pears, plums and greengages always take longer to come into production . Therefore in particular with these fruit types it is wiser to start with a 2 to 3 year old tree.

The height of the tree is not a feature which encourages early cropping.

Rootstocks and tree size

How to buy fruit trees

Big trees, little trees, can they compete?

Photo courtesy of Moreland's emerging urban food gardens/

Photo courtesy of Moreland’s emerging urban food gardens/

It’s not tree planting time yet. But, if you’ve already ordered your trees, this is the time to start thinking about how to ensure that the new tree will survive in your garden. In this post, I’m thinking particularly of situation in which you already have healthy, well-established trees in your garden, and you want to fill a gap with a new tree. In this case, you have to follow a certain procedure to give the new tree or trees a chance to compete successfully with the trees already there, and ensuring them a constant supply of moisture, light and nutrients throughout the growing season. Here we go:

1) Choose the correct fruit type, rootstock and variety compatible and vigorous enough to compete with the already established and larger trees in close proximity. If you need advice on which trees to purchase, there is some basic information here. Otherwise, take a look at our Tree Varieties page, fill in the form, and provide some information on your situation in the box ‘Special instructions or local conditions.’

2) Use a mini digger to prepare the planting hole, and cut and remove all the roots of surrounding trees that are crossing the planting hole. The size of the planting hole needs to be 1 metre square and 45 cm deep. (If you don’t have a mini digger, well, it’s going to be spade work… take your time, take it easy, do some warm-up exercises before you start. If you have back or heart problems, ask someone who is fit to do it… or hire a mini-digger.)

3) Next, loosen the subsoil but do not take that soil out of the planting hole.

4) Remove and cut back all overhanging branches of other trees, which will be taking away the light of the newly to be planted tree or trees.

5) Mix plenty of garden compost or well rotted straw based farmyard manure into the soil.

6) When planting your trees make sure the union of the trees is at least 4 inches above soil level once planted.

7) Plant the trees well away from any building or wall, which might create shade.

8) Firm the soil around the roots, but with only moderate force. No stamping. Stake the trees with a 6 foot, round, 2” diameter stake, which has been treated against fungi. If it is not treated against fungi, it may rot off at soil level.

9) During the growing season do not forget to water the trees weekly, with 10 litres of water for each tree.

10) Apply “Growmore” spread evenly over the 1 square metre area, twice a year, in February and June. Do not allow any weeds or grass to grow on your specially-prepared soil area, around the trunks of the trees. Mulch the trees if possible. Follow instructions on the packet of the fertilizer. Do not exceed the stated rate of application.

If you do all the above you will succeed. Good luck and all best wishes!

Top ten fruit growing tips for August

1) Keep watering your fruit trees, particularly if they are carrying a crop .

2) Look at the trunk of the trees to ensure that the bark is not damaged by lawn mowers or strimmers.

3) Mice are increasing in numbers, particularly around fruit trees. Keep the area around the trunk, grass and weed-free, as this is the sort of shelter that mice like.

4) Fruits which will store, after harvesting, for a later date; raspberries, black currants, red currants, blue berries and gooseberries freeze beautifully, without loss of quality. Check to make sure you have enough space in your freezer.

5) Keep a diary of your growing experiences, particularly if something went wrong during the growing season.

6) All fruits are ripening off later this year, due to the cold slow start in March/April time. Do not pick too early, otherwise the fruit will shrivel and will lack flavour.

7) Carry out summer pruning where necessary. Plums, cherries, green gages, peaches, nectarines and apricots must not be pruned after the end of August in order to avoid infections of various tree diseases. Apples and pears can be pruned at any time during the winter months

8) August is an ideal month to improve drainage in areas where you intend to plant trees, and loosen the soil to a two-spade depth. This is particularly true if a hard layer of soil is found within the first 60 cm of the soil profile.

9) Let us know, as your tree supplier, if you intend to plant certain specific varieties of fruit. The more unusual varieties sell out quickly. We will have good quantities of standard varieties. However, we recommend contacting us right away in order to organize your new area of fruit trees. Click here for further information on our orchard packs.

10) Label your anti bird nets. This makes it is easier to use the right nets in the right place next season.

Special offer on our Orchard Packs

Fruit almost ready for harvest

Our Orchard Packs are the first step to quality homegrown fruit

Our Orchard Pack becomes even more attractive with our special Christmas offer! Free trees for orders of two, three or four orchard packs!

We would like to say “Thank you” to customers placing new orders for more than one Orchard Pack.

If you order two orchard packs, we will supply one extra fruit tree free of charge. If you order three Orchard Packs, you will receive two extra trees free. If you order four Orchard Packs, you will receive three extra trees free.

This corresponds to a 10% discount. The offer is available from now, 12 December 2012, until stocks last.

Update 27 December 2012: Our Christmas offer has now ended.

Just follow this link to view the tree varieties available and place your order!


Choosing fruit trees that crop regularly and produce fruit of good flavour

Doctor Harvey cooking apple

Doctor Harvey cooking apple

Here are some preliminary notes on choosing fruit trees that crop regularly and produce fruit of good flavour.
There are different requirements to take in consideration to achieve early and regular cropping:
1) Weather
2) Site
3) Soil
4) Pollination needs
5) Variety characteristics
6) Disease resistance
7) Rootstock
There are no apple varieties which can tick all the boxes. Knowledge of the weather patterns in the various areas of the UK is therefore essential, in order to plant the right varieties. However there are varieties which I would give a treble A rating, when it comes to making up trios of apple varieties. Groups of three varieties are best as several varieties need good cross pollination. Without this, even excellent varieties will still perform. The ones I am going to single out all have fruits of excellent eating or cooking qualities. Secondly these varieties also excel in producing fruits of long keeping qualities.
However the right combination of these varieties needs to be made, according to the site and soil available in the different counties. Having said all this, I would put the following varieties at the top of my list. Anyone considering planting some apples should include at least two of these varieties, suitable to the area where you live.
Dessert apples:
Adams Pearmain
Claygate Pearmain
Lord Lambourne
Egremont Russet
Cooking apples:
Edward VII
Annie Elisabeth
Lane Prince Albert
Duke of Devonshire
Bramley’s Seedling
Doctor Harvey
Dual purpose apples:
James Grieve
Blenheim Orange
Norfolk Beefing

Tree deliveries now completed for this season – book early for December!

This is the worst time of the year to transplant fruit trees. The sap is rising and dormancy has been broken. My advice is to order trees around early September, for December delivery. At that stage the trees are fully dormant again. If you plant now, the trees will be severely weakened, before you start. We have now stopped all tree deliveries for that reason.

If you are planning on planting some trees next season, visit our website where you will find details of our Orchard Packs and varieties.