Growing Fruit Trees Guide

Published On: March 17th, 2021


Growing fruit trees is not without challenges, but the reward of an abundant crop of healthy, mouthwatering fruit makes it worthwhile for many gardeners. There is something delightful – especially for children – about harvesting delicious, sweet fruit from your own backyard tree.

Here’s how to succeed with fruit trees in Wisconsin.

  1. Select varieties suited to our Wisconsin climate. We’ve got you covered. You’ll find only reliably hardy varieties at Heyden’s Gardens.
  2. Provide a pollinator for the trees that require cross-pollination.
  3. Prune in late winter/earliest spring when trees are dormant.
  4. Realistically, if you want a significant harvestable crop you will need to conduct a spraying program to protect your trees and fruit from insect and disease damage. A pristine crop will be obtained only through a regular, season-long spray regime. If a few blemishes and minor insect damage is acceptable, then one or two applications per year may suffice. Organic spray options with nominal environmental impact are available for growing fruit trees.
fruit trees for the home orchard spraying pollinator guide for best harvest

Cross Pollination

Some fruit trees are self-fertile and will produce fruit even if you only have one tree. Self-fertile fruit trees include peaches and sour cherries.

Others, notable apple trees, require a pollinator to set fruit. A pollinator must be an apple tree of a different variety, that blooms at the same time. An early season bloomer will pollinate another early season bloomer and will also pollinate a mid-season bloomer as their flowering seasons will overlap.

The same applies to late bloomers, which will pollinate other late bloomers as well as mid-season bloomers. Mid-season bloomers will all cross pollinate and can also pollinate both early and late season bloomers. Here’s a simple chart showing bloom seasons for most of the apple tree varieties that we carry.

Pollinator Cheat Sheet

Apple Variety Bloom Season
Connell Red Mid to Late Season
Cortland Mid to Late Season
Empire Mid to Late Season
Gala Mid to Late Season
Golden Delicious Late Season
Haralred Late Season
Honeycrisp Mid to Late Season
Jonathan Mid to Late Season
KinderKrisp Early to Mid Season
McIntosh Mid Season
Winecrisp Mid Season
Zestar! Early Season

Pruning

Some form of proper pruning will be required in the first few years of growing fruit trees. The primary goal is to maintain a strong, sound form, and to open the canopy for good light penetration and air circulation.

Spraying

Basic Spray Guide for Apple Trees

  • Spray #1: At tight green bud stage apply Dormant/All Season oil spray. Typically this is in early April but it varies by the year. This will protect your tree from overwintering insects.
    • Recommended product: Bonide All Season Horticultural Spray Oil (organic). Do not spray when temperatures are below 40 degrees.
  • Spray #2: When leaves first open in spring spray fungicide for apple scab protection.
    • Recommended product: Bonide Copper Fungicide (organic)
  • Spray #3: After bloom (when the petals have fallen off the tree) spray your trees with a Home Orchard Spray. This spray will include both an insecticide and a fungicide. This spray at petal fall is the most important one of the year. It will do the most for keeping pests and diseases under control and making sure you have an edible crop.
    • Recommended products: Bonide Orchard Spray (organic) or Bonide Fruit Tree & Plant Guard (not organic)
    • Do not spray insecticide on tree when it is in bloom as this will kill beneficial pollinators!
  • Spray #4: Repeat #3
    • If using Bonide Orchard Spray: spray 7–10 days later.
    • If using Bonide Fruit & Plant Guard: spray 21 days later.
  • OPTIONAL: Continue to spray Home Orchard Spray every 2-3 weeks throughout season if “perfect” fruit harvest is desired. Stop spraying at the PHI (pre-harvest interval) listed on the pesticide label.
fruit tree red delicious apples after spraying for diseases pests bugs

Basic Spray Guide for Peach Trees

  • Spray #1: Dormant spray (late winter-early April) for peach leaf curl
    • Recommended products: Bonide Fung-onil (Chlorothalonil) or Bonide Copper Fungicide (organic)
  • Spray #2: Petal Fall
    • Spray Home Orchard Spray for blossom blight/plum curculio weevil
    • Recommended products: Bonide Orchard Spray (organic) or Bonide Fruit Tree & Plant Guard (not organic)
  • Spray #3: 10 days after petal fall
    • Spray Home Orchard Spray for plum curculio weevil & fungal issues
  • Optional: repeat every 10/12 days up to early July.

Basic Spray Guide for Cherry Trees

  • Spray #1: At bud or bloom stage apply fungicide spray for blossom blight control.
    • Recommended products: Bonide Fung-onil (Chlorothalonil) or Bonide Copper Fungicide (organic)
  • Spray #2: After bloom (when the petals have fallen off the tree) spray your trees with a Home Orchard Spray. This spray will include both an insecticide and a fungicide. This spray at petal fall is the most important one of the years. It will do the most for keeping pests under control and making sure you have an edible crop.
    • Recommended products: Bonide Orchard Spray (organic) or Bonide Fruit Tree & Plant Guard (not organic)
    • Do not spray insecticide on tree when it is in bloom as this will kill beneficial pollinators!
  • Spray #3: Repeat #2
    • If using Bonide Orchard Spray: spray 7–10 days later
    • If using Bonide Fruit & Plant Guard: spray 21 days later
  • OPTIONAL: Continue to spray Home Orchard Spray every 2-4 weeks throughout season if “perfect” fruit harvest is desired. Stop spraying at the PHI (pre-harvest interval) listed on the pesticide label.

Find Your Fruit Tree Sprays and Supplies

Most of the sprays for growing your fruit trees are available here at Heyden’s Gardens.