November 7, 2015
I am relatively new at trying to grow plants and trees. I have a pear tree that is young, about 3 years old now, and is still quite spindly. It produced quite a few pears this year but the trunk of the tree is very slender. Should I fertilize this tree and if so, when? I also have some plum trees that I think need fertilizing. They are older, about 10 years, and still produce but some of the limbs have died. Should I fertilize them and if so, when?
Most fruit trees benefit from an application of fertilizer once or twice a year depending on their age. For young trees, in early spring broadcast a complete fertilizer (10-10-10). You can repeat this again in June. For older trees broadcast fertilizer around the tree every year in late March. Usually well-established trees only need one application of fertilizer a year, but watering is important for all fruit trees.
I would appreciate any advice in regards to insects, fertilizing, and watering of my outdoor plants. I live in the country and have 8 acres. About two of those acres I maintain. I have Crepe Myrtles, Carolina Jasmine, Ivy, Pampas Grass, Junipers, numerous Holly bushes, Roses (climbing and for cutting), Wisteria vines on a tree and on a chain-link fence, Apple, Pear and plum trees and Azaleas. Each plant seems to have different requirements. I find myself watering all the above every other day. I fertilize at the appropriate times and spray for insects (preventive, systemic), and diseases. My Apple tree didn't flower this year. Instead, it developed rust spots. My plum tree had one flower on it and the pear tree had about 10 fruit. These 3 trees are about 2-3 years old. I find that my Roses require lots of attention due to problems with insects, diseases (rust, black spot, mites, etc.). It is wearing me out! I give all the above plants as much attention and care with the products available. It seems as if I am the only one in my area doing such. I marvel at other yards with the same plants and wonder what they are doing or not doing to maintain those plants. I never see anyone outside watering like I do. My soil is a mixture of dirt, sand and clay. I amend the soil each time I plant something new. I guess what I'm asking is: Once a plant is established, is it necessary to water like I'm watering? If I don't, the plants appear to stress. Also, how do I control my insect problem. I fear that this year I may have over used some products and killed the good insects and left the plants prey to opportunistic insects and diseases. Help, please.
One thing to be aware of is that frequent watering makes plants demand more, because it encourages shallow roots. Infrequent, deep watering encourages a deep root zone. However, every yard is different. Rocky soils, those with steep slopes and in full sun require more water than level yards with great soil. You have also picked some pretty needy plants. Fruit trees require quite a bit of maintenance, including spray schedules and watering. They also often don’t begin to bear fruit well until they are 5-8 years of age. Hybrid tea roses also require constant care. Many folks are opting for low-input plants which require less care—if you want roses, try the new environmentally friendly roses, like Knockout, or the antique roses. Mulching is also something that I would strongly encourage. It helps to retain moisture and moderates the soil temperature. The azaleas you have also need water. Grasses, junipers, Carolina jasmine, hollies and wisteria should be much lower maintenance. Gradually wean them from their daily water needs by applying more water when you do water, and applying it less often. It isn't something you can reverse overnight. Many people with automatic sprinkler systems make this mistake. Monitor for insects and diseases and spray as needed. For the fruit trees and roses, preventative sprays are often best.
Can you tell us the name of a fruit tree spray that would work for nectarines, peaches and Italian Plums? Last year we had a lot of mold on our fruit, and we would like to do a better job this year.
Your best bet is to look for a complete home fruit orchard spray. Many brand names are available. Be sure to read the label and make sure it says it is for diseases and insects, since you need both insecticides and fungicides to have clean fruit. Having it pre-mixed makes it easier. Begin the spray schedule when two-thirds of the flower petals fall and repeat every two to three weeks throughout the season.
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