Fruit tree blos­soms

Al­though grown pri­mar­ily for their fruits, many fruit trees pro­duce pretty spring blos­soms too.

NZ Gardener - 365 Days of Flowers - - The Spring Garden -

In hor­ti­cul­ture speak, a woody plant that blooms be­fore the leaves emerge is re­ferred to as pre­co­cious. It seems a mis­nomer, since a fruit tree in full blos­som is a fine sight. But how­ever spec­tac­u­lar, early bloom­ing trees are at risk of frosts dam­ag­ing the ten­der petals and sta­mens.

SCENTED AL­MOND

Al­mond trees are no­tably early in their blos­som­ing time, so are best suited to re­gions where frosts are not com­mon. They pro­duce a show of white flow­ers tinged with pink. As well as a feast for the eyes, al­mond flow­ers fill the air with the scent of honey.

BLOOM CARE

The soft and ten­der petals, and fragile sta­mens of blos­soms need pro­tec­tion from spring frosts, so swathe your trees in frost cloth or run a sprin­kler over the trees through the night when frosts are ex­pected. The water will form a frozen pro­tec­tive layer on blooms.

MORE BLOOMS

En­cour­age spring blos­soms by feed­ing fruit trees with sul­phate of potash in au­tumn. This is when buds in the branches of de­cid­u­ous fruit trees are dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing be­tween veg­e­ta­tive and flow­er­ing/fruit­ing buds. The more potas­sium in au­tumn, the more flow­ers in spring.

BLOS­SOMS FOR THE VASE

All fruit tree blos­soms look great in a vase, but re­mem­ber that you'll be sac­ri­fic­ing fruit if you re­move flow­er­ing stems, so take only a few stems from each tree. Sin­gle stems look great on their own in small glass vases. But what to pick?

Peach and nec­tarine trees are spring stun­ners, with soft pink blos­soms. The Flatto peach and nec­tarine va­ri­eties are ex­tra pro­lific bloomers, with up to 50 flow­ers per me­tre of branch.

Ja­panese plum va­ri­eties such as 'Ele­phant Heart', 'For­tune' and 'Santa Rosa' flower with soft white sin­gle blooms in mid spring; Euro­pean types such as 'Dam­son' and green­gages bloom later (and thus are less sus­cep­ti­ble to frosts in colder ar­eas).

As spring pro­gresses, the later-flow­er­ing pome fruit – ap­ples, pears and quinces – get un­der­way with their spring dis­play, usu­ally in Septem­ber.

Ap­ple blos­soms range from pure white sin­gle flow­ers to pink-tinged, de­pend­ing on the va­ri­ety and are borne on spurs or the tips of branches. Pear trees all pro­duce sin­gle white flow­ers. Quinces have richly scented, large floppy white blos­som. Pomegranates have cute red-or­ange flow­ers that look like crum­pled-up car­na­tions, some­times as sin­gle flow­ers on the branch tips but more of­ten as clus­ters of blooms. They flower first in spring but the trees can con­tinue to flower through spring, or may just flower again in sum­mer.

Flow­er­ing cher­ries may have white or pink sin­gle or dou­ble blooms. New Zealand-bred 'Awanui' has an amaz­ing show of shell-pink flow­ers in Septem­ber.

Branches with unopened buds can be cut in win­ter and brought in­doors to flower ear­lier in warmer tem­per­a­tures.

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