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stepover fruit trees

Hello and happy new year, I've treated myself to 3 fruit trees, an Braeburn apple, Stella cherry and Victoria plum, I 'm  hoping I can train them along the border of my south west facing front garden as a kind of edging by the path? Any advice would be very welcome, especially how to get started, and how much room do I need to leave between these and things like roses and peonies ( there' s probably only around 15 inches to be honest, is that enough? ) and how far should I space the trees? Can i grow hardy geraniums right up to the trunks? Thanks in advance



  • I'm surprised at the cherry and plum being step overs. They're better fan trained. Despite the fact that they're probably on dwarfing stock they will always be pushing to go upwards, so be aware of that tendency. However, if you stay in control of them, fruit production (keeping the blackbirds off the cherries!), should be good. Find a generally sunny and sheltered spot, get them in the ground asap (once frost is out) with some good compost mixed in with the soil when you plant and water them in, then hopefully they'll do the rest for you.


  • rosemummyrosemummy Posts: 2,010

    thanks, yes, I agree they'll want to grow up but think as they'll be at home I can probably keep an eye on them and keep them cmall. the other option is grow them in large pots but I'm unsure how I could train them in those

  • The open ground is always going to be the  best option. Pots are such high maintenance, especially for plums and cherries with their strong root growth. 


  • rosemummyrosemummy Posts: 2,010

    Hi Hortum,and anyone else readin,. I've been having a rethink, and have found a spot by the edge of the patio where I can remove a section of grass for one tree, either the plum or the cherry, so it can grow to 2metres max, the other will have to go in a 24 inch pot if it's to grow taller than a stepover, which having read more I agree only the apple would do happily, which would be best for the edge of the lawn/patio? I was planning 2 supprots of 2 metres at each end, with strong wire between, an I on the right lines?thanks in advance

  • Yes, I think that's more realistic, rosemummy.  One thing to bear in mind is that the cherry will need netting if you want to eat any of the fruit rather than leaving it to the birds (woodpigeons would eat all of my sweet cherries while still green if I didn't net them) so put that in the pot unless the spot by the patio would be easy to net.  There is some good advice on pruning for your trees on this link (stepover apples is near the bottom):

    It's crucial to get this right from the beginning.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • rosemummyrosemummy Posts: 2,010

    Great, thanks Bob, the spot is easy enough to net, am planning to nip out today to get support posts, wire, large pots etc hoping my brother will come next weekend to secure all that in, if not will be looking for a reliable, competent gardener, have had 2 rubbish ones before!

  • rosemummyrosemummy Posts: 2,010

    ok, all ready to plany... now I've read in a gw article and a rhs book to plant fruit trees in pots in John Innes no.3...however my local gc said no.2...any advice welcome thanks in advance again

  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923

    either JI mix should be fine, you might want to add some multi purpose compost into the mix and chicken manure pellets mixed into the bottom couple of inches of fill to give the tree a bit of a kick start next year.

    remember to remove all fruit in the first year so the tree focuses on growing rather than fruiting.

    Last edited: 17 January 2017 11:41:30

  • rosemummyrosemummy Posts: 2,010

    Having a wobble, all planted happily in  their pots and spots...should I espalier these trees or leave them to a natural shape? I need to decide as if espalier, I need to get supports safely erected soon,any advice welcome, thanks in advance

  • Any pics of the site and the trees?

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

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