Q&As/Fruit Trees & Berries/Espalier Trees

Question

I saw a photo in a magazine of an apple and pear tree on one trunk growing up a fence and the branches were trained to grow horizontally. How do I do this?

Answer

Both apples and pears are excellent fruit trees to espalier. There are a few important factors to consider when espaliering fruit trees:

  1. A sunny, well drained position is essential. Full sun will encourage the ripening of fruit, while drainage is important for healthy growth.
  2. A fence, wall or strong wires attached to sturdy stakes are best to carry the weight of a mature espalier fruit tree. Allow enough room for the tree to grow (3 metres either side of trunk).
  3. Try to choose a specimen with a straight trunk and evenly spaced branches.
  4. The first branches of the tree should be tied down horizontally, about 500-600mm above ground level. The next pair of branches should be 350-400mm above the lower branches to allow for adequate air movement, full sun penetration and room for fruiting spurs to develop.
  5. As the tree grows, remove any branching growth where it’s not required. Fertilise with Daltons Goldcote Fruit and Citrus Fertiliser in early spring and every 6 weeks until mid-December. Recommence applications in late February through to late April.

With newly planted trees, water deeply and regularly when required over summer months. Mulch with compost or bark to help retain soil moisture. Remove young fruit for the first 1-2 years after planting to allow the tree’s energy to be focused on vegetative growth.

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