Despite their miniature size, dwarf fruit trees produce just as many spring blooms, full-sized fruit at harvest, and fall foliage as the full-sized fruit trees. With dwarf fruit trees, you get most of the benefits of full-sized trees despite your limited garden space. But how long do dwarf trees last?
Dwarf fruit trees typically last for 15 to 25 years, while their full-size counterparts may live for over 50 years. The lifespan, however, varies across different species. Despite the short lifespan, dwarf fruit trees have many advantages over full-sized fruit trees.
This article will focus on dwarf fruit trees’ lifespan, fruit-bearing age, factors affecting their productivity lifespan, and the advantages and disadvantages of planting dwarf trees, so read on!
Productive Lifespan of Dwarf Fruit Trees
Dwarf fruit trees can produce fruit for up to 15-20 years. However, this number of productive years differs depending on the type of fruit tree you have.
The dwarf apple tree, for instance, has a productive lifespan of up to 20 years. If they are healthy, thriving, and given proper care each season, most dwarf trees begin making fruits within 2 to 4 years and continue to do so for the rest of their lives.
It is important to note that some dwarf fruit trees need other trees for cross-pollination while others are self-fertilizers and can produce alone. For instance, most dwarf apple varieties will need cross pollinators, while peaches and nectarines are self-fertilizers.
How Long Do Dwarf Fruit Trees Take Before They Start Bearing Fruits?
A typical dwarf tree produces its first fruit anywhere between the third and the fifth year. For instance, dwarf apple tree varieties produce the first fruit in three years, while the standard apple tree will produce in 5 to 7 years.
Dwarf fruit trees reach full production between 2 to 5 years, depending on the type of fruit tree. The dwarf apple tree, for example, takes 2 to 3 years to bear its first fruit and 3 to 4 years for full production.
Even as the dwarf trees start producing fruits earlier, the fruits are still of the same size as a full-size fruit tree.
Factors Influencing the Lifespan of a Dwarf Fruit Tree
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the lifespan of dwarf fruit trees is not the same for every type of fruit, and the same goes for full-size fruit trees. Let’s take a look at these factors that influence the productive lifespan of dwarf fruit trees:
The climate of the place you plant the dwarf fruit tree determines how long the tree will live. Dwarf trees in very wet places may live for shorter periods due to the high moisture concentration that may harm the tree.
The influence of climate on the trees will also vary according to the fruit type. For example, apples do well in cold climates. Therefore, growing dwarf apple fruit trees in a cold area will likely be productive for much longer.
You should grow the right fruit tree for your area’s climate. That way, they are more likely to last longer as they thrive in that environment.
The Tree’s Position
The positioning of the dwarf fruit tree will also determine how long the tree will live. Dwarf fruit trees should be kept in a place with direct sunlight to boost the tree’s growth. Fruit trees may not reach their full potential if they do not receive enough sunlight throughout the year. For example, apple trees need to be in full or partial sunlight to grow and thrive.
Level of Care
If dwarf fruit trees are taken care of and protected from pests and diseases, it will live longer.
Keep the trees healthy by removing dead and diseased branches, regularly watering them, adding nutrients to the soil, and treating disease and insect infestations.
Dwarf trees should also receive enough light and be protected from bad weather and wildlife. Never forget to feed your tree. Spread compost, water them, and occasionally add organic fertilizer to the soil.
When dwarf fruit trees are planted close to other trees, there is competition for nutrients.
Apple trees that are constantly in conflict with other trees, such as those in spaces where many trees are planted closely together, are unlikely to live as long as they should. The reduced lifespan is because the trees have to focus their vital energy on surviving than on developing and producing fruitful harvests.
To minimize competition, space your dwarf fruit trees appropriately and weed the ground regularly. Add compost to the soil to improve the quality of the soil and add more nutrients so the trees can thrive and produce better fruits.
Too Little or Too Much Moisture
Another common cause of dwarf trees not living as long as they should is too little or too much water. If you overwater them, bacteria and diseases will easily attack and spread, the roots will rot, and the tree can die.
Similarly, if the fruit tree does not get enough water, it will become weak, dry out, and become unable to produce fruit.
Most trees, whether in the ground or pots, require occasional weekly watering. You might need to water the tree more frequently when it is loaded with fruit in the summer.
Soil and Climate
If the trees are planted in well-aerated soils where the roots can spread freely, they will last longer than those planted in compact soils.
It’s crucial to plant fruit trees in soil that is good for their root systems and in an area with a good climate if you want them to grow healthy and bear fruit. Organic, loose, and well-draining soil is ideal.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Dwarf Trees
There are benefits as well as disadvantages when it comes to dwarf trees. Let’s take a look at both.
Dwarf fruit trees have many advantages. Some of the advantages include:
- Ideal for compact spaces: Since dwarf trees are smaller than full-size, they can fit in compact spaces. So no need to worry if you only have a tiny garden or yard to grow your fruit trees. You can even grow dwarf trees in containers and place them on a balcony or patio.
- Low upkeep: Dwarf trees are significantly simpler to maintain throughout their lives because they never grow bigger than 10 feet (3 m). For instance, you don’t need to scale a ladder to the top of the tree’s canopy to trim or harvest fruit from a tree; you can perform these actions on the ground.
- Early productivity: Dwarf fruit trees begin to produce fruit before full-size trees. They usually have fruit after planting in the ground or a pot for one to two years. Fruit production on average-sized fruit trees can take up to five years after planting.
- Denser plant life: Since dwarf fruit trees are smaller than their full-grown relatives, you can plant them closer together as they require a smaller area to thrive.
- Trainable: The ancient method of shaping and fastening tree branches to a wall, fence, or trellis is known as espalier. To conserve space and create a living artwork, you can train dwarf trees that grow on flat, two-dimensional surfaces into intriguing shapes and patterns.
- Versatile: You can transform dwarf trees in every way through grafting. Grafting rootstocks function quite differently and have very distinct capabilities. You can also graft different varieties of fruit trees on one rootstock.
The disadvantages of dwarf fruit trees include:
- Shorter lifespan: A dwarf fruit tree can live between 15 and 20 years. However, a full-size tree can live more than 35 to 45 years.
- Limited shade: Due to their small size and thinness, dwarf trees cannot provide much shade. If you want to unwind under a fruit tree this summer, you’ll probably pick one that is semi-dwarf or regular in size.
Dwarf fruit trees are easy to grow and take significantly less time to start yielding fruits. A typical dwarf tree with adequate care and maintenance will live for around 20 years producing regular-size fruits and offering other benefits.