Shopping and planting tips for espalier fruit

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As a trellis fruit trees are called, which are pulled on a scaffold - the so-called trellis. This particular form of education has four major advantages:

  • the crowns of the fruit trees extend only in two directions, thus occupying much less space in the garden than the freely growing fruit trees
  • The quality of the fruit is usually higher than that of normally raised fruit trees, as all fruits are optimally exposed
  • In the favorable microclimate on a south-facing wall of the house, heat-loving fruit trees such as apricots, peaches and figs can be cultivated successfully even in cooler regions
  • the risk of late frost drops and the fertilization rates of the flowers are higher in front of a warm south wall, as bees and other pollinators like to stay here

The most commonly planted espalier fruit are apples and pears

Basically, all varieties are suitable for the form of education, but you should choose trees that do not grow too much, depending on the available space. The regulation of the growth strength takes over the processing basis of the respective apple and pear variety. Weak to moderately growing rootstocks such as 'M106' for apples or 'Quince C' for pears are a good choice. The names of the documents and / or the growth strengths are usually indicated on the labels together with the variety name in the nursery. If you want to raise your trellis tree yourself, you should also make sure that the bottom side shoots are at about knee level, ie relatively close to the ground. In the nursery, such fruit trees are offered either as a "footstool" or "bush" or, in the case of weak growing documents, as a "spindle tree" or "slender spindle".

As a horizontal palmette pulled trellis apple:

As a horizontal palmette pulled trellis apple: on poorly growing documents ennobled trellis fruit does not grow over your head even in old age

For hobby gardeners who are less experienced in fruit tree trimming, preformed trellis fruit is usually the better choice. Although it is much more expensive than a conventional tree, because the cutting and shaping of the coronet crown is done by hand. For this you get a tree that already carries the main branches at the right height and angle to the trunk and in the following years only needs a simple conservation cut.

The main espalier types

The form of education depends on the trellis fruit both from the respective fruit type as well as from the space in the garden. The most common type of apples and pears is the so-called horizontal palmette. It is a tree with continuous vertical central drive and horizontally branching lateral guide branches, which are arranged depending on the vigor of the tree in three or more floors. The horizontal palmette is the preferred trellis tree for wide house walls, as the side branches can become very long.
For narrower walls, the so-called U-trellis is suitable. In these trees, the center drive over the first or second branch floor is removed, the two to four lateral Leitäste initially guided horizontally and pulled up vertically at the end. The "U" of the lower branch floor is wider than the upper one.

An apple pulled as a tree

An apple pulled as a tree: During the summer cut, the horizontally growing water veins must be regularly shortened to four leaves

If the space is limited to the top or the trellises should remain as low as possible, the so-called line tree is used. He has no central drive, but only two horizontal side branches. The one-armed string tree consists only of a horizontal Leitast.
Stone fruit types such as peaches and apricots are more fertile if the branches are not pulled horizontally but diagonally upwards to the trunk. In this form of trellis one speaks of the so-called oblique Palmette.

Fan tree pulled young peach tree

As a fan tree pulled young peach in spring

Another common type of trellis is the so-called fan tree, in which the main drive is cut and the side shoots radiate in different directions at different angles. This form of trellis is sometimes created as a double fan - here are the origins of the two fan-shaped crowns at the ends of two horizontal Leitäste.

This is how you find the right location

First, decide whether you want to plant your trellis tree free-standing or on a house wall. The latter is recommended for all heat-loving fruit species, as a freestanding trellis apple trees are usually the best choice. They also unlike pears, peaches and apricots, not too hot location, so a west or southwest-facing wall is usually better than a south wall.If the place is somewhat protected from rain by the roof overhang of the house, this is the most fruit trees, because it reduces the susceptibility to leaf diseases such as scab and mildew.

Supporting devices for espalier fruit

If you have decided on a location, first build a suitable trellis. Wall trellises are ideally made of horizontal square wooden strips with a side length of about three to four centimeters. Since espalier fruit on the wall needs a good rear ventilation, you must make sure that the wooden strips have sufficient distance from the wall - we recommend at least ten centimeters. You can reach the distance with vertically mounted wooden slats of appropriate thickness, to which the strips are then screwed. Instead of wooden strips, you can also use straight bamboo sticks of suitable length. Here you should however pre-drill the screw holes, as the bars splinter easily.

Pear tree pulled on the trellis

A well ventilated wooden trellis offers this pear on the house wall ideal growing conditions

A less elaborate alternative are wire harnesses: Here, you bring between two vertically bolted wooden beams several plastic-coated tension wires. It is important that they have enough "train", so are tense tight. This can be achieved by pulling a continuous wire from top to bottom through metal eyelets attached to the wooden beams and attaching a screw clamp at the end. When the wire is fully assembled with a loose preload, it is properly tightened with the tightener.
For free-standing trellises, you first cast in concrete at a distance of two to three meters wooden or metal posts. If you are using wooden posts, you should anchor them in the foundation with metal post shoes. To tie up the branches and twigs, horizontal wooden strips or tensioning wires are then also attached at different heights. The distance between the wooden strips or wires should be around 40 to 60 centimeters.

Planting time for espalier fruit

The ideal time to plant trellis apples and pears is autumn. For some frost-sensitive species such as apricots, peaches and figs, spring is the better planting season. In the center of the attached trellis, lift a generous planting hole and keep as much distance to the house wall as possible, as it is often very dry here. So that the crown can still be attached well to the trellis, the tree is simply set slightly obliquely in the ground. The planting hole should be twice as large in diameter as the root ball, also the sole is loosened when needed with a grave fork to eliminate compaction to the ground. Place the pot bale so deep in the planting hole that the surface is at about the level of the ground. Before you close the planting hole again, you should improve the excavation with Laubhumus. This is especially important on sandy soils, so they can store more water. The filled soil is then carefully compacted with the foot and the new tree thoroughly poured.
After inserting the trellis tree, loosen it from the makeshift trellis of bamboo sticks, where the plants in the nursery are usually shaped. Then tie the shoots to the new support using a non-cutting binding material. Best suited for this so-called hollow cord made of PVC, which is available in the garden trade. The trellis trees offered in the garden trade are usually already somewhat older than normal fruit trees and carry already fruit wood. Therefore, they deliver the first fruits already in the first season after planting. However, you should pay attention to the fact that you have a good supply of water on house walls, and regularly water the plants when the soil is very dry.

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