Dig each planting hole wide enough to accommodate all of the root system without bending or bunching it, and deep enough so that the bud union of grafted plants will be no more than 1 to 2 inches above the ground line after the soil settles. Space the planting holes according to Table 5.1.
Approximate Height, as indicated by the arrow, at which to set stone fruit trees
Keep root pruning to a minimum, but cut off all broken or mutilated root parts with pruning shears. Even though many stone fruits do not have dwarfing rootstocks, it is still best to set the plants with the graft or bud union no more than 1 to 2 inches above the soil line (Figure 5.1). Work the soil in and around the roots. When the hole is half full, you should firm the soil with your feet before filling the rest of the hole. When the hole is full, be sure you pack the soil firmly. Do not leave a depression around the tree. Also, do not place fertilizer in the planting hole or fertilize the soil immediately after planting. Fertilize only after the soil has been settled by a drenching rain.
After planting, apply sufficient water to thoroughly soak the soil around the tree roots. This watering will help to bring the soil into closer contact with all sides of the roots and eliminate air pockets around the roots.
Shortly after planting, apply 8 ounces of 10-10-10 per plant. Do not place fertilizer in the planting hole. In subsequent years, broadcast 1/2 pound of 10-10-10 under each tree in the early spring. Increase the amount applied by another 1/2 pound per year, up to 5 pounds per tree regardless of age. Maintain pH at 6.0 to 6.5. Never fertilize after July 15.
Stone fruit trees produce vegetative buds and flower buds. Peaches and nectarines produce their flower buds on one-year-old wood, i.e., shoots that grew the previous year. The terminal bud of peach and nectarine shoots is always vegetative. The flower buds are produced at each node (the point on the shoot where the leaf is attached) with two flower buds on either side of a vegetative bud. In cherries, apricots, and plums, flower buds are produced laterally and terminally on one-year-old shoots and on spurs on older wood. The number and distribution of flower buds can vary with tree vigor, the variety, and the light exposure under which the shoot was developed. Moderately vigorous shoots have a high proportion of good flower buds.