Is it too late to plant fruit trees in Kentucky? I realize I won’t get a yield this year.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Nancy in Kentucky: There is still plenty of time to add fruit trees to your garden this season. Fall is actually the ideal time to install new additions to the garden. Everybody gets the gardening bug in the spring so it makes sense that this is when all the garden centers are loaded with plant material, but as far as trees, shrubs, perennials, and other hardy plant material it is less stressful on them to plant during the fall and less maintenance on your part in terms of watering. When we plant during the spring/ summer it is likely we will have to supplement with additional moisture during the hot dry periods. When fall arrives, temperatures cool down so it is easier on the plants in terms of getting their roots established before the winter arrives. No matter what time of year we plant it is always a good idea to add a thin layer of mulch to help retain moisture and keep the weeds down. Remember to spread the mulch evenly and not cone it up around the base of the trunk. This can lead to insect and disease issues. Fruit trees thrive in full sun and nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. Another bonus to planting this time of year is that you can normally find some good deals at Labor Day sales. When choosing the fruit trees that you would like, remember to choose varieties/cultivars that are disease-resistant and purchase from a reputable garden center/nursery. Depending on the fruit, it is best to plant at least two for optimal pollination. The following link is to several publications on growing fruit in Kentucky: www.uky.edu/Ag/Horticulture/comfruit.html. Kentucky has the climate for growing multiple fruit trees, including apples, pears, paw paws, cherries, and peaches. The stone fruits can be a bit finicky but don’t forget about the fruiting shrubs like berries and figs. These are great additions to the edible garden.