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Planting new fruit trees in old holes

Question

Asked by: Denis  from Durham, 05-Jan-2020

Can I plant into ground that I have just removed old diseased trees from?

Answer

It is best not to plant a new trees in the hole from a previous old fruit tree as the new tree may be affected by "replant syndrome", which stops it establishing and growing away properly. Basically the old tree will have attracted a colony of soil organisms, pathogens, and fungal infections with which it is has been co-existing for many years. These will initially overwhelm the new young tree.

This replant problem is a particular issue for apple trees (including cider and crab-apple trees) when planted in the same location as a previous apple tree. It does not seem quite as harmful for stone fruit, and an apple following a stone fruit tree or vice versa is also not quite as difficult.

If you have no choice but to plant in the same location then dig out a 1m diameter area around the old planting hole, and replenish the soil in the hole with fresh soil from an undisturbed area elsewhere in your garden.