Plant dwarf fruit trees in the early spring. There are circumstances for planting at other times of the year. The climate and whether the new tree is sold planted in a container, bare root or with the roots wrapped in plastic or burlap, are determining factors.
All types of dwarf fruit trees, regardless of being purchased in containers, ball and burlap or plastic, or bare root, should be planted in the spring. This is especially true in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 5 and below. Dwarf trees are not winter hardy enough to survive a harsh cold winter before becoming established. Plant as soon as the ground thaws enough to dig a hole big enough to easily accommodate the tree's roots. In most locations, this is in March or April. It could be later in the spring or earlier depending on the climate and local conditions.
Warmer Cold Winter Climates
In USDA zones 6 and above, plant container-grown trees in the fall. Do this in October or November, depending on the climate. Plant after the deciduous trees lose their leaves and go dormant, but early enough to allow the tree roots to grow into the soil before it freezes.
Warm Winter Climates
In very warm locations where the soil does not freeze, plant bare root dwarf fruit trees in the winter while they are dormant. Plant them approximately one month before the average spring bud break in the area. Container grown and ball-and-burlap trees may be planted at any time throughout the year. In these warm locations, the summer heat is stressful for most dwarf fruit trees. Water the tree at least several times each week for the first year.
Dwarf fruit trees grow indoors in pots. Bare root, container grown and ball-and-burlap trees may be planted in pots at any time of the year. The only seasonal planting limitation is availability. Most nurseries do not stock dwarf fruit trees out of season and mail order or online sources may not be able to ship trees at certain times of the year. Place container-grown dwarf fruit trees in bright, sunny locations. Move them outdoors for the summer and back indoors for the winter in cold winter climates.
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- University of Maine; Planting and Early Care of Fruit Trees; James R. Schupp; 1997
- University of Missouri Extension; Home Fruit Production: Apples; Michele Warmund; May 2002
- Central Texas Tree Experts; Planting and Caring for Dwarf Trees; Andrew Johnson; Jan. 26, 2010
- University of Arizona Cooperative Extension: Fruit Trees: Planting and Varieties
- Plant-Care; Dwarf Fruit Trees Can Give You a Back Yard Orchard; G. Marshall