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planting trees in clay soil

I've recently bought potted dwarf trees, Apple, Pear, Sweet Cherry each about 1m-1.5m tall. Dug large holes for them which then fill up an inch or two with water at the bottom and clay soil is sodden! I've heard about root rot and I don't want to destroy the trees. I've received mixed advice from suppliers/other gardeners from sympathy to sharp sand to horticultural grit to leave until drier (but when will that be!!? And how long can I leave them in their pots?) We live in the north-east (new to area). 


  • flowering roseflowering rose Posts: 1,632

    I have just moved my pear tree and it was in very wet soil ,so put it with a bit of mixture of gravel and soil(and compost) and  trod the soil well down and water each day for a while even thou the ground is sodden. you can grow fruit trees in pots as long as you remember to water well so they should be alright until if or when it dries out.image

  • Difficult, JeJul.  And outside my experience really, but I should think a bit of grit and  leafmould at the bottom of the hole should help a lot.  Then mix the clay soil with compost and grit.  I expect the UK is in for a drought again this summer, sure as eggs is eggs!

    My book says the hole should be 18 inches deep, 24 inches for cherries; good drainage is essential, as is shelter - fruit trees don't like wind. Apples and pears like full sun, or sun at least half the day.  They shouldn't dry out so add plenty of 'bulky organic material' to hold moisture.  Without going into details, it looks as though you should plant in January, feed in Feb and prune in March, except for plums which you prune in June.  Of course, container grown plants can be planted out at any time.  Hope this helps.  I 'll look forward to more Comments.

  • JeJulJeJul Posts: 2

    Well thank you for such great advice, flowering rose, Tricia 82, Charlie November. I love the reassurance and fantastic drawing given by Charlie November. I had read of possibility of adding gravel at bottom but couldn't really see how that would help the roots- now I do!! I will take your advice Flowering Rose and Tricia 82 and leave planting out but then use Charlie November's method- hopefully next week will improve as I still have watery wells!

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