Best time for planting fruit trees

It is important to choose the right time of year to plant your fruit trees.

When to plant bare-root fruit trees

Bare-root trees can only be planted when they are dormant. This usually means from November to the end of February (or March or even April in the north of Scotland). It is best to wait for a mild spell when no bad weather is forecast. Do not try to plant bare-root trees once the new season's leaf buds have started to emerge. Click here for full planting instructions.

When to plant pot-grown fruit trees

Container-grown trees can be planted at any time during the period September to early May. There is some benefit to planting in the period September to November, but not significant. As with bare-root trees, if planting during the winter wait for a mild-spell. Click here for full planting instructions.

When not to plant a new fruit tree?

There are two periods when you should not plant a new fruit tree. Don't plant during the summer, and don't plant in winter when the ground is frozen.

The critical time in the life of a fruit tree is the summer period from mid-May to August when the tree is growing at its fastest rate. Planting during the summer is strongly discouraged. The chances of the tree establishing successfully are much lower during this period, and in our opinion there is nothing to be gained by planting during the summer. Planting fruit trees is a long-term investment and it is always better to plant at the right time if you can.

Planting during winter is usually the best time for new fruit trees, but always avoid planting when the ground is frozen, or when bad weather is forecast. If your new trees are in containers, you can keep them in a cold garage until the weather improves. If they are bare-root trees, you can heel them in, either in a trench in the garden or, if the weather is extremely bad, in a pile of compost in a garage.