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Michigan Gardening Tips

Yes, You Can Easily Grow Fruit Trees In Michigan!

Many gardeners are looking for ways to grow their own food not only to save money, but to know what conditions the food has been grown. When your own grow fruit trees you know that the food is not treated or irradiated between the orchard and your table. 

Grow Fruit Trees - Dwarf AppleMany fruit trees bear fruit for years and with the newer dwarf varieties, you don’t need acres to grow them. With the new disease resistant varieties, controlling pests is easier. In addition, there are several columnar apple trees that need very little width to grow. I have both a yellow and a red variety in my garden and they do very well.

Be aware to grow fruit trees that you can harvest are more of a commitment than a geranium, it is important to consider several things first:

Site Selection: Fruit trees need at least 8 hours of direct sun per day to grow and produce well. Check the movement of the sun at this location several times per day to make sure that when the sun moves there isn’t an obstruction that will cause shade. Always look up to check for power lines in the area the tree will be planted.
In Northern areas it is best to plant apples, plums and sour-cherries on a south facing slope to get additional heat. Plant peaches and apricots on a north-slope or the heat will cause them to bloom too early and you could lose all the flowers and crop that season.

All the fruit trees do not have to be in close proximity to each other. For plants such as sweet cherries, you do need to have two trees to produce fruit and they should be near each other. You can certainly grow fruit trees in your orchard over the years. I started with a Pear and then added a peach and a cherry that was self pollinating so I didn’t need two trees. I grow these fruit trees and they produce very well for me. 

Grow Fruit Trees - Sour CherryTree Selection: First as always determine your growing zone. It is best not to try to grow a tree not certified for your zone, better to be safe.
Always consider how tall the tree will get. No only do you want to have enough room for it to grow well, but you must consider how you will get the fruit off the tree if it is too tall to reach safely. Many of the dwarf trees are about 10 feet.  Beware the semi-dwarf designation as it can fool you. Semi-dwarf trees can be 10-20 feet tall. Standard size trees exceed 20 most of the time.

Variety: Most fruit trees grow best with at least two different varieties planted. Check your catalogs for compatibility. As I indicated above some trees like apricots and peaches are self-fertile so you need only one.  Again, check this information when ordering or picking out the tree at your local nursery.

Select varieties that are disease resistant. Apple scab disease is an airborne fungus and does great harm.  In many cases a tree blooms well in the spring. It leafs out, but by August all the leaves have fallen off and the tree looks dead. This is stressful for the tree and is best avoided by choosing disease resistant varieties. ‘Jonafree’ and ‘Liberty’ apples are resistant to apple scab.

Realize that you can grow fruit tree varieties in large pots and put them on the patio just so they get sufficient sun. Meyer Lemons, lime trees and some orange trees can be grown outside in the summer and brought in for Michigan winters.

Planting: You can buy your potted trees locally or order bareroot trees from mail-order catalogs.  The catalogs have a larger variety, but choose the company wisely as some send inferior plants that will only frustrate the gardener with lackluster results. Spring planting is the best time in northern areas.

My experience with bareroot trees is that it can take a few years to get fruit.The ones I purchased locally bore fruit the very first year. So keep that in mind when planting and keep your expectations in line with reality. Remember, when you grow fruit trees to keep them well watered and you will reap a very enjoyable harvest year in and year out.

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