Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Category Archives: Tree orders and deliveries

End-of-season notification

This 2018-19 season has been marked by higher than average demand for fruit trees. This has most likely been caused by the strong increase in the number of new homes and gardens, as well as the unusually warm weather experienced earlier in the season, which affected the fruit trees’ dormancy status. The sale of fruit trees on our website will end on Wednesday 20 March.

Young fruit trees ready for delivery

New Two-Tree Orchard Pack

Our company Suffolk Fruit & Trees has introduced a new product designed specifically for gardens in which there is insufficient space for the five trees in our Standard Orchard Pack. The Two-Tree Orchard Pack makes it possible to select varieties that are compatible as regards pollination, ensuring the best possible cropping results. We can provide advice to ensure that the two trees are suitable for your location, your site and your soil, and work together symbiotically.

Is your favourite dessert Plum and Apple Crumble? In this case, the Two-Tree Orchard Pack provides an opportunity to have your own ingredients. A whole range of combinations is possible, such as two eating apples, perhaps chosen to ensure a supply of apples over several months; or an eater and a cooker, or two pears, or apple and cherry…

With respect to our Standard Orchard Pack, there is an extra advantage: an attractive price, just £40 plus delivery.

If there is one variety that you are particularly interested in but you are unsure of the second pollinating tree, just let us know using the Two-Tree Orchard Pack no-obligation order form and we’ll suggest the ideal partner. If you like, you can just specify “Apple and pear,” “Pear and walnut” and so forth, and we’ll suggest the varieties. Or simply send us an email to

Fruit trees for planting along a wall or fence

Would you like a fruit tree, or a few trees, for training along a wall or a solid fence? This is of course possible, and we can provide both the trees and the advice needed to ensure that they do well. Just visit the Fruit tree varieties page, provide your name, email, telephone number and address, and choose the tree or trees that you would like from the list of varieties.

In the box “Special instructions or local conditions,” please tell us whether the wall or fence is facing north, south, east or west, and the length and the height of the wall or fence. We need all this information because fruit trees are site-specific, and a wall or fence can considerably modify the micro-climate for the fruit tree.

A fence or wall is the classic position for a trained fruit tree, and we can supply pre-trained trees. If you would like a pre-trained espalier, or fan-shaped tree or a cordon tree, just state your selection in the same “Special instructions or local conditions” box on the Fruit tree varieties page. See our web page Tree training for further details.

Once we have received your no-obligation request, we will provide recommendations on suitability of tree varieties according to your location by email. For any general requests, please feel free to contact us by e-mail or using the Contact form on this page.

Fan-shaped tree

GIft Tokens, a practical gift idea for Christmas 2014

20131027-064452.jpgChristmas is situated near the beginning of the tree dormancy period, this year from December to April, the period in which it is best to plant new trees. If you would like to order an Orchard Pack as a gift, don’t delay! But it is more practical to give a Gift Token, which can be exchanged for trees at any time withiin six months from the date of issue.. A great way to give someone a gift that will last for years and years, producing beautiful blossom and scrumptious fruit! Just contact us for further information on our gift tokens.

This late, late season, and how it can be useful for planting new trees

As you will have noticed, many trees that would normally have lost their leaves are still photosynthesizing, and roots are still fully active. This situation was caused by the relatively high air and soil temperatures at crucial stages of the year, and it has both positive and negative effects.

The negative effect is the increased amounts of fungal spores in the garden or orchard. It is important to collect leaves as they fall, remove them from the area, and burn them (or dispose of them in your food and garden waste bin if you are in a city). Don’t compost them, because this just gives the fungal spores another chance to infect your plants and trees.

The positive effect is that the tree is able to store resources in its root system, which will give it a better start next year and improve crops.

The late season also affects the trees in our nursery. Normally we say that the best time to plant new trees is from November to late March. This winter, the season in which we are able to lift the young trees and send them to you for planting is from December to mid April.

Even though that seems like plenty of time, it’s a good idea to order now. As always, our stocks are limited, and ordering now ensures that we can provide advice on the suitability of variety to your location, and check pollination requirements should you wish to order some specific fruit tree varieties. To get started, just take a look at our tree varieties page, tick the boxes for the trees that interest you (an orchard pack with five trees is our best-value package) and send us the form. No obligations to you: we’ll confirm that we can supply your order, and you in turn can confirm if and when you are happy. For whatever problems or doubts you may have, don’t hesitate to get in touch!


Photo courtesy of Maja Dumat/


Dormant period this year

Suffolk Pink

Suffolk Pink

This is a good time of year to plan the position of new fruit trees, and order the trees. Our stocks are limited, and our trees are now growing so that they will be ready for delivery in their dormant period, this year from late November to late March. If you order now, the trees will be reserved for you, ready for delivery in late November/early December.

A tree is different from a conventional product that you can buy say at a supermarket because it follows the rhythms of nature. From late October a tree begins to prepare for the winter shut-down. Carbohydrate reserves built up in the leaves are sent down to the root system for storage. The tree then sends all the substances it wants to get rid of to the leaves (contributing to their autumn colours) so that leaf drop is like a purification process. By late November or early December, metabolism has reached its minimum throughout the tree. As the spring approaches, the root system uses some of its reserves to rejuvenate its micro-feeding roots, tiny, microscopic rootlets invisible to the naked eye, the structures that do the job of absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. And so by the start of April the tree is ready to start its new season.

This is why we recommend planting from late November to late March. It is a mistake to think that when the trees are put in the soil they start to grow from that moment. Trees need time to adjust and closely associate with the soil, in order to rebuild the micro-feeding roots. This process can take as much as from 3 weeks to a month, depending on soil temperature.

What happens if you plant a tree at other times of year? However gently you transplant, the micro-feeding rootlets are all destroyed. For about a month, the trees are totally dependent on the reserves stored in the thicker roots and in the woody parts of the tree above ground. Once those reserved are used up, the tree starves, and will look miserable for the rest of the season.

So, in summary, order now, ready for deliveries from late November!

Growing fruit trees in containers

A potted tree at Kew. Photo courtesy of Tampa Librarian/

A potted tree at Kew. Photo courtesy of Tampa Librarian/

To plant a fruit tree in a container is easy enough. To keep the tree growing well and cropping well over a number of years is easier said than done. The reason is straightforward. By its very nature, a fruit tree is capable of looking after itself very well, providing the tree’s root system can fully explore the soil at considerable depth and width all around. The tree cannot do this if we restrict its rooting environment to a pot or a container of any size. It is therefore very important to realize, once the tree is planted in a container, that the tree is no longer capable of looking after itself during the growing season. Obviously, the larger the container, the greater the volume of soil available to the tree. This in turn will mean that there is more soil available for the tree to explore. Assuming the tree is provided with a regular water supply, by some means of irrigation, a larger tree can be maintained. Therefore the first principle to take in account is what final tree size is desired for the long term. Container size is therefore a very important decision. Also one needs to take in account the fact that by means of tree training and summer pruning, a smaller tree canopy can be maintained. Espaliers, cordons, and fan-shaped trees are all realistic possibilities. A fruit tree in a smaller pot will by nature remain a smaller plant and therefore needs less pruning and is easier to maintain. However a small tree will have a reduced cropping capability. It is as well to remember that in general terms about 30 healthy green leaves are needed for each apple, bringing the fruit to maturity and optimum size. Click here to see a list of fruit trees that we sell for growing in pots and to make a provisional order.

Size of the container

Regarding the size of the pot or container, you can start with a pot with a rim size of 15 to 20 cm. However after year two, the tree needs to be repotted to a larger pot with a 25 to 30 cm rim. The ideal container needs to be at least 45 cm in width, with a minimum depth of 40 cm. Also it is just as well to remember that if the tree is placed on a patio or near a wall, it is liable to blow over and therefore needs to be secured. This of course is of less importance when the tree is placed inside a building. In that case it is just as well to remember the tree will need plenty of light in order to do well.

Type of container

Plastic pots should not be placed in full sun as the roots like to be growing in moist compost of moderate temperatures, and plastic in the sun gets hot and transfers the heat to the soil. Plastic pots in the shade are fine. Half an oak barrel or the equivalent is fine too. Smaller wooden containers have a tendency to dry out too quickly. Metal containers in the long term are less suitable. Large clay pots are very well suited for fruit trees.

Soil and fertilizer

Make sure that whichever container is chosen, there are good-sized drainage holes in the bottom, loosely covered with pieces of terracotta pots to stop the holes from closing in future years. The best compost for trees in containers is John Innes compost No 3. It is an advantage to mix some grit into the compost in order to keep the soil-based compost open enough for water to travel right through the container and not just along the sides. Mix some slow release fertilizer into the compost. Follow the instructions on the packet. Too much fertilizer will harm the tree and weaken the root system. When filling the container, leave some room at the top without compost to make watering easier. Do make sure that the compost is thoroughly wetted after planting and maintain the moisture content of the compost throughout the growing season. As mentioned above, the tree will need to be fed annually. The best time to do this is in the spring. During the summer months, foliar feeding is of great benefit to the tree, provided you follow the instructions on the packet closely.


Regarding pests, it is important to control greenfly/aphids and caterpillar. Fungal diseases such as mildew, scab, canker and brown rot can sometimes be a problem. A garden centre stocks various products which will help to control these diseases.
All types of birds love to peck or eat fruit. Have a net handy before the fruit is at the vulnerable stage.


Apples, pears, plums and cherries all can be grown in large containers. However the variety and rootstock used need to be chosen with care.
Good advice is a help once the particular situation and spot for the tree/trees are known. Pollination requirements need to be taken in consideration if regular fruiting is wished for.

Fruit storage

Once the fruit has been picked it will keep best at the bottom of the fridge. 3 to 4 degrees Celsius is the optimum storage temperature for fruit.

Click here to read another article on soil and containers for trees grown in containers.

Photo courtesy of Garden Organic/

Photo courtesy of Garden Organic/

The Suffolk Fruit & Trees Orchard Pack

Saturn, photo courtesy of

Saturn, photo courtesy of

“No man is an island,” and in the same way, no tree is an island. Just as a person’s life is enriched by the people with whom he or she interacts, a fruit tree interacts with the other trees in the vicinity. This is why we developed our Orchard Pack, five trees chosen specifically to create a small biological community in which all the trees help each other, growing and cropping better.

We could say that our standard Orchard Pack consists of two apple trees, a plum, a pear, and a cherry or a greengage. But in actual fact, for Suffolk Fruit & Trees there is no standard Orchard Pack, because it will always be tailored for each customer. If you are not sure about exactly which trees you want, we will suggest a combination of varieties appropriate to your geographical location, your site and your soil. This is the best guarantee of success. Perhaps you know exactly which varieties you want, and in this case you just have to check that they are available on our Tree Varieties page – we are proud to offer one of the most extensive ranges of trees on the market – and specify the varieties in your order.

The Suffolk Fruit & Trees Orchard Pack can be customized in all sorts of ways. Many people like the fruit to ripen over an extended period, so that fresh fruit is available for as many months as possible. Our orchard pack is the perfect package with which to achieve this, as you can choose different types of fruit. For example, a classic sequence of fruit ripening from early to late in the season could be: apricot, peach/nectarine, cherry, plum/greengage, apple/pear. The sequence can be spread out futher by using specific varieties in the different groups.
Some customers ask for ornamental apple trees – ornamental Malus – outstanding for their blossom but that don’t produce edible fruit. Others ask for five traditional varieties, producing fruit that cannot be found in supermarkets. Others may be interested in varieties good for making apple juice and cider, or cooking apples. For all, we can tailor an Orchard Pack so that the five trees grow well together and crop well. What’s more, for each Orchard Pack we provide comprehensive information and instructions, and we are always on hand for advice at any time.
In short, our Orchard Pack consists of five trees – but with a lot of added extras, in the form of advice and tips based on a lifetime spent growing trees. We work like this because we get enjoyment from growing trees, and this is something that we want to share with you.

Where do you go from here? Just visit our Orchard Packs page, fill in the online form, tell us what you’re looking for, and we’ll get back to you with suggestions and a no-obligation offer.

Maiden and Bush trees

Planting a tree. Photo courtesy of FO Littleover Parks/

Planting a tree. Photo courtesy of FO Littleover Parks/

Of course, we are not the only fruit tree suppliers on the market in the UK. Each supplier has their own policy as regards pricing and products. One particularly important factor in a fruit tree from a supplier is whether it is a Maiden or a Bush tree.

A Maiden is generally a tree in its first year, consisting of a single stem. For a few varieties, this may have a few initial side branches, but most will not. The buds on a maiden are mainly wood buds. So there is no chance of any fruit crop in the year after planting.

A Bush tree is a 2 to 3 year-old tree, ususally with several side branches, usually with a good number of fruit buds. Fruit buds are essential for early cropping. A bush tree is also helpful because the side branches are ready to develop into the main framework of the tree, with a “fruit table” positioned for comfortable picking. Not all fruit trees form side branches in the second year, but, if it is an apple, in any case the tree will start to produce fruit on the central stem. By nature, pears, plums and greengages always take longer to come into production . Therefore in particular with these fruit types it is wiser to start with a 2 to 3 year old tree.

The height of the tree is not a feature which encourages early cropping.

In conclusion, we would like to underline the fact that the fruit trees that we sell are Bush trees, well-developed specimens with useful side branches to encourage early cropping. This is why, with our trees, cropping usually begins the year after planting. They are sturdy, strong and healthy, with good levels of reserves in the tree structure. This helps them to resist diseases caused by the fungal spores that are always present in the air.

Other suppliers may seem to have prices lower than ours, but this is because the trees that they supply are Maidens, without all the advantages offered by Bush trees. We have specifically chosen to supply Bush trees because we feel that they offer a better deal for the purchaser.

Big trees, little trees, can they compete?

Photo courtesy of Moreland's emerging urban food gardens/

Photo courtesy of Moreland’s emerging urban food gardens/

It’s not tree planting time yet. But, if you’ve already ordered your trees, this is the time to start thinking about how to ensure that the new tree will survive in your garden. In this post, I’m thinking particularly of situation in which you already have healthy, well-established trees in your garden, and you want to fill a gap with a new tree. In this case, you have to follow a certain procedure to give the new tree or trees a chance to compete successfully with the trees already there, and ensuring them a constant supply of moisture, light and nutrients throughout the growing season. Here we go:

1) Choose the correct fruit type, rootstock and variety compatible and vigorous enough to compete with the already established and larger trees in close proximity. If you need advice on which trees to purchase, there is some basic information here. Otherwise, take a look at our Tree Varieties page, fill in the form, and provide some information on your situation in the box ‘Special instructions or local conditions.’

2) Use a mini digger to prepare the planting hole, and cut and remove all the roots of surrounding trees that are crossing the planting hole. The size of the planting hole needs to be 1 metre square and 45 cm deep. (If you don’t have a mini digger, well, it’s going to be spade work… take your time, take it easy, do some warm-up exercises before you start. If you have back or heart problems, ask someone who is fit to do it… or hire a mini-digger.)

3) Next, loosen the subsoil but do not take that soil out of the planting hole.

4) Remove and cut back all overhanging branches of other trees, which will be taking away the light of the newly to be planted tree or trees.

5) Mix plenty of garden compost or well rotted straw based farmyard manure into the soil.

6) When planting your trees make sure the union of the trees is at least 4 inches above soil level once planted.

7) Plant the trees well away from any building or wall, which might create shade.

8) Firm the soil around the roots, but with only moderate force. No stamping. Stake the trees with a 6 foot, round, 2” diameter stake, which has been treated against fungi. If it is not treated against fungi, it may rot off at soil level.

9) During the growing season do not forget to water the trees weekly, with 10 litres of water for each tree.

10) Apply “Growmore” spread evenly over the 1 square metre area, twice a year, in February and June. Do not allow any weeds or grass to grow on your specially-prepared soil area, around the trunks of the trees. Mulch the trees if possible. Follow instructions on the packet of the fertilizer. Do not exceed the stated rate of application.

If you do all the above you will succeed. Good luck and all best wishes!