Our criteria for selecting each tree included (1) it had to be something we would actually eat; (2) it had to be appropriate for the soil type and space in the backyard; (3) it had to be within our budget; and (4) it had to fit into our car. We have short trees all under 5 ft. in height, but they are planted so each has room to grow. We chose:
- pineapple orange tree (Citrus sinensis “pineapple” – see photo at right)
- Persian lime (Citrus latifloria)
- murcotte tangerine (Citrus reticulata)
- kumquat (Fortunella sp)
- and my husband’s favorite, a mango (Mangifera indica).
To plant each tree, we dug a hole slightly less than the depth of each tree container but twice as wide. This left the top of the root ball just above the level of the soil to allow it to settle. We did not spread out the root ball since current research says that doesn’t help the tree to adapt to the soil or to develop roots faster.
We did not amend the soil with potting soil, although I did add some slow release fertilizer to the soil before putting the soil back in the hole around the root ball. In the Master Gardening course, they said not to amend the soil at all when planting a tree, so adding the fertilizer goes against their advice. The soil is infertile however, and I will fertilize for the first year, so I added the fertilizer when planting. (It’s a hard habit to break!)
I haven’t mulched around the base of the tree yet, but I will get this done within the next 2 days. When mulching trees, the mulch should not touch the tree stem. Mulch keeps the moisture in the soil but can also stop the moisture from reaching the tree roots if the mulch is too close to the stem.
I formed a berm basin to keep water close to the tree roots. On reading Planting a Tree information on the Texas A&M website, I see that they recommend less water than I have provided. I probably need to cut back, although I have watered every other day and not every day as they suggest for the 1st week.
We know that it may take a few years before we see any fruit. The trees are in shock from the transplant and will need time to develop roots before they are likely to produce fruit. although the pineapple orange had blossoms on it when we planted it. We’re watching to see if any fruit is produced from those blossoms.
We wait patiently, but are already planning on serving mango lassies to guests. In the meantime, we enjoy taking a peek at our growing orchard each day.