Fruit trees need more attention than other types of trees when they are young. They consistently need to be watered during their first five years of life. But, what about when they are dormant in the winter months. Do fruit trees need water in the winter?
If you want to know if fruit trees need to be watered in the winter then the answer is: It depends. There are various factors that play into whether or not a fruit tree needs watered during its dormant season and understanding these factors will help you come up with an appropriate schedule for your specific fruit tree.
Things That Affect Whether Fruit Trees Need Water in Winter
Here are the factors that affect whether or not a tree needs watered in the winter:
- Location: Fruit trees that are located in colder climates likely need more watering than those that are planted closer to the equator. The reason for this is because it requires a lot more water and energy to keep warm and break dormancy when it’s cold outside.
- Soil: If your soil is clay or doesn’t drain well, then it is likely that your fruit trees need more water as opposed to those with looser soil.
- Type of Tree: If you have a full-size fruit tree as opposed to a smaller type such as an espaliered apple tree or other bush variety, then your plant will need even more water.
Signs a Fruit Tree Needs to be Watered in the Winter
The most obvious sign of a tree needing water is wilting. If you notice your tree’s leaves droop slightly (if there are any) after the sun goes down or if you see cracks in the tree bark, it may be trying to tell you something. However, if your tree does not display any of these signs, there are other ways to determine if your tree is suffering from water deficiency.
The best way to know whether or not your fruit tree needs to be watered in the winter is by doing an inspection of the root system. Dig a small hole next to the drip line of your tree – the area where rain would naturally fall. If it’s too difficult to determine whether or not your tree needs water, try digging two holes separated by around six inches. One should be filled with water while you inspect the other one for roots that are healthy and green as opposed to yellow and brown.
If the roots of your established tree appear to be unhealthy and any are brown instead of green or yellow, watering will likely improve their appearance and overall health. How often you water depends on species and weather conditions, but it’s usually recommended that you water deeply once a month from September through March – this allows for deep soil penetration. Remember, a tree can freeze to death.
Insufficient water intake in an established tree can result in missed growth opportunities, flowers, and fruit that are delayed or not produced at all in the following year, pest infestations and even death.
Fruit trees will not need to be watered every winter, but it is still important that you check your plants periodically and ensure that they don’t get too much or too little water during the dormant season.