Fruit Tree Care

Plant It Hawaii

With over 100 years of combined experience growing fruit trees on the Big Island the crew members at Plant It Hawaii are the best in the business. If you have any questions that our website cannot answer please feel free to give us a call at (808) 966-6633.

The red bracket indicates the graft on this young citrus tree, the yellow brackets show where the suckers are located. Any growth which is not part of the graft should be removed when they first appear. In the photo you can see suckers above and below the graft line, which if allowed to continue to grow, will compete against the grafted part of the tree for nutrients and their own plant growth. The graft union is typically 6-12 inches above the soil line in most grafted trees.

Suckers like the ones above are best pinched off by hand, as closely as possible to the trunk, to discourage regrowth. The graft union on young trees is fairly easy to distinguish, note the distinct change in wood color and the scar left by the graft cut.  On older trees where the graft union isn’t as obvious you can see that a branch is a sucker from the difference in the shape of the leaf.

How To Plant A Fruit Tree

For a 3 gallon bag size dig a hole 18″ round and 24″ deep. Make sure the hole has adequate water drainage. Mix thoroughly 2 to 3 pounds of well composted manure and 1 cup dolomite lime and 1/2 cup treble superphosphate into the soil dug from the hole. Cinders up to 33% in volume may be added to help with drainage. Organic matter such as Macadamia husks, wood chips, or compost may be added up to 33% by volume. Gently remove the plastic bag from the root ball, by cutting off the bottom of the bag or pot with a knife, and set the tree into the hole. Then put 1/4 of the  mixture back into the hole and around the tree, positioning the tree so it is straight up.  Slit the bag down the side and remove it. Continue to fill the hole with the soil mixture until the level around the tree is the same as it was in the container.Water thoroughly! Mulching in a 4 foot diameter circle around the tree but not within  4 to 6 inches around the trunk up to 12 inches deep with composted  plant material such as wood chips or composted leaves is very beneficial.

How To Fertilize

Top dress with fertilizer at planting and every  8-12 weeks with a type that has a 3-1-2 ratio of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium or N-P-K for optimal growth of the tree the first year or two.  Fertilizer should be applied in a wide circle around the tree, starting at the drip line and extending out 2 more feet. The idea is to encourage the roots to grow out to become anchored and seek nutrients. The canopy of the tree will follow the root growth. Mulching with either composted or fresh leafy plant material is beneficial by providing  humus and humic acid, which work to hold nutrients around the tree longer. It also  keeps soil temperature cooler and promotes healthy soil. Dolomite lime is usually applied once a year. Minor and trace nutrients should be applied annually or semi-annually, depending on species and location. Some fertilizer formulations also contain minor nutrients with the  N-P-K, such as “palm-citrus special,” and others.

We recommend Integrated Pest Management on fruit trees. The basic idea is to identify and understand the pest  and to control the damage; not necessarily eliminating the pest. Using strong broad spectrum pesticides kills all the insects, both good and bad. This method leaves no beneficial insects left to control populations of the pest.  Aphids can be controlled by Horticulture Insecticidal soaps and oils. Mites can be controlled by wettable sulfur powder. Many types of fungi can be controlled with Tri-basic copper 53, a wettable powder. Caterpillars can be controlled with Thuricide, it contains a bacteria specific to eliminating them.