As a special Christmas treat I thought I would give you an extra blog piece. This is a guest blog by Julien de Bosdari of Ashridge Nurseries, a mail order plant nursery, specialising in hedging, trees, fruit, roses & shrubs. Julien has written about something close to all our hearts here at the garden, how to attract bees to your garden by planting fruit tree and which might be the best trees for your garden. Sit back, relax and enjoy.
The best fruit trees to attract bees and how to plant them effectively
Bees are not only a beautiful addition to any garden but a welcome and necessary one. The role they play in the environment as pollinators make them fascinating little creatures. We need bees and other useful insects and pollinators to produce colourful garden displays and tasty fruit.
Planting fruit trees not only gives you homegrown food but also provides a natural habitat and food source for wildlife. Pollinators, particularly honeybees, love fruit trees so think about adding some new fruit trees to your garden to help its ecosystem.
The best fruit trees to attract bees
Bee-friendly fruit trees are a great addition to your outdoor space which both you and the bees are sure to love. Avoid using pesticides if you can as bees are very susceptible to them and can cause damage to the species.
Apple and cherry trees
During the warm, summer months apple and cherry trees are a fantastic choice for attracting bees. The majority of varieties perform well during the hotter weather and will keep bees interested during the earlier part of the growing season. Cherry trees, in particular, make for a brilliant addition as they are usually quite large with lots of flower buds, attracting a large number of bees.
Peaches, plums and nectarines
To keep bees busy all year round, planting fruit trees that bloom and fruit at different times help to provide a more sustainable source of food. You’re also more likely to receive visits from a variety of bees as they can eat and be active at different times. Plum trees tend to bloom in late winter to early spring with fruit ripening from early May all the way through to September. Nectarine and peach trees tend to flower early in the year with fruit being ready in July for early varieties. Later varieties will see fruit produced through August and early September.
Plant bee-friendly plants
When you’re thinking about planting a fruit tree, you need to think about cross-pollination. Some fruit trees require a pollination partner to produce fruit so this needs to be a consideration. If you’re not sure where to start, this fruit tree pollination checker tool will help you find the perfect cross-pollination partner for your fruit tree.
To attract more bees and encourage pollination, grow some bee-friendly and colourful plants. Planting flowers and shrubs that blossom at different times will keep bees interested throughout the seasons. Bee-friendly plants include hyacinths, crocus and asters.
How to plant a fruit tree effectively
Now, you’ve chosen your fruit tree and are ready to plant it. When buying the tree, they can be bought in either a container or bare-rooted. For both types, look for roots that have well-developed fibrous roots and show no sign of disease.
How to prepare the fruit tree
Bare-root trees can be planted from late autumn to early winter, be sure to soak the roots before planting. Avoid planting the tree during a frost. With container-grown trees, they can be planted at any time of the year. Again, avoid planting during a frost or when the soil is very dry or wet.
Planting the fruit tree
Think about the positioning and growing conditions you have available for your fruit tree. A sunny yet sheltered position is ideal and can help maximise the time your fruit has to ripen. If you’re planting a container-grown tree, water the container thoroughly and leave to soak for an hour or so.
Next, dig a hole a third wider than the roots and the same depth. Insert both the tree and the stake. Try and dig the hole on the same day as planting so that it doesn’t get filled up with rainwater. Fill the hole in with soil and shape into a small bowl at the base, attaching the tree to the stake.
Watch – How to plant a fruit tree:
Maintenance and aftercare
After planting, apply water and mulch around the base of the tree. Make sure you keep any grass or similar vegetation away from the base. If you’re planting in the spring and the ground is dry, water with a large bucket of water.
The first spring is a key time for your new tree. Remove any weeds that could stop your new tree establishing. Don’t use herbicides on a young tree, instead make sure the mulch you use is dense and prevents weeds from growing near it. Always be sure to follow your trees planting and aftercare instructions when choosing a fruit tree.
Julien de Bosdari of Ashridge Nurseries, December 2018