Planting Instructions

Wafler Nursery

Upon Arrival

Inspect trees for possible drying out of roots during transit. We pack our trees carefully for shipping but if the damage is detected (i.e., freezing in transit, drying out, breakage) report it to the carrier and call us at once. We may be able to offer some help. If there is frost in the box, close it up again and place it in a cool area where it can warm up very slowly. Verify packing slip matches what was delivered. All claims regarding the delivery of the trees must be made within 5 days of delivery.

Site Selection + Prep.

Fruit trees require well-drained soil. Choose sites or soils that are naturally well drained or improve the site with drainage tile. A soil test is a good place to start to determine your fertilizer needs. Most fruit trees like a soil pH of 6.0- 7.0. Adjust with lime if pH is too low. It is important to have any
fertilizer application thoroughly mixed in soil DO NOT put any fertilizer directly in the hole with the roots as this can burn them.


For best results, the trees should be planted as soon as possible after receiving them. If you must store them, keep them in a cool or cold (but not freezing) place. Do not store the trees with apples or in any storage that has not been fully aired out to remove ethylene gases that fruit produce.  All tree warranties are void if stored near ethylene gases. Inspect them regularly.  The roots should be kept moist but not wet and the tops dry.   Don’t store where mice can get at them.

If the buds have started to grow

If buds are just swelling or stretching, plant them within 1 to 2 days in their final location if possible. If you have 1/2” of growth or more, heel the trees (temporarily plant) them on the north side of a building or another place where sun will not hit them directly.  Shelter them from a lot of wind also. You want the yellowish growth to turn green (2-4 days normally) Plant as soon as they have been acclimated to the light.   Take extra care that the roots remain moist all the time.


DO NOT leave tree roots soaking in water before planting. This is an old planting practice that can do more harm than good to young tree roots.
It is better to plant the trees and water the soil adequately. For a few trees, holes may be dug with a shovel. For a larger number of trees, a tractor
powered auger or tree planter is used.  Dig the hole large enough so that the roots can be spread out and deep enough so that the tree can be planted
leaving the bud union (the knobby part of the trunk above the roots) out of the ground 3-4”. It is very important to maintain the graft union height. The closer to ground it is the more vigorous the tree will be. The farther out of the ground it is the weaker the tree will be.

Do not dig holes far in advance of planting and don’t plant if water seeps into the bottom of the hole before you get the tree in it-it’s too wet. Do not put anything in the hole except the tree, good soil, and water. Fertilizer or manure will burn fragile young roots.  Setting the tree upright in the hole, fill it about half full of dirt.

Tamp the dirt firmly but gently. Fill the hole with soil all the way and tamp.

Trees benefit greatly from a good watering as soon as planted. In a normal season, 2 good waterings are usually enough. If the first growing season is dry, more will be needed. At planting cut an unbranched tree a few inches to encourage branching.

For dwarfing trees cut branches back to 6 inches at planting. For semidwarf and standard, leave branches as is.

Care During the First Years

For backyard growers we recommend purchasing an all-purpose fruit tree spray and following the instructions on timing and application. We also recommend plucking the flowers of the apple trees off the first two years to promote growth and minimize the risk of fire blight. It is very important to control weed and grasses, because they will pull water away from the trees and attract rodents and other pests.

For commercial growers your best resource will be your state cooperative extension. They will have spray guides for your specific areas. Be sure not to skimp on weed control and fire blight control in these young plantings. These can be the most devastating to the life of a young tree.

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