Out of my league? Or zone?


Hi all,

I’ve been working for a few years now to build up an orchard on a SE facing slope in the Catskills (Zone 5b). I’ve got some peaches, Illinois Mulberry, plums, paw paw, persimmon, apple and pear. All are “rated” for my zone and most are doing well. I’ve only had issues with the persimmon (Yates and Meader) splitting bark during the winter (sun scald?). Otherwise, they’re growing. Just really slowly and not even a hint of fruiting.

I’d estimate that most of these trees (all 2-3 years in the ground and planted from 5gallon buckets) are growing about 3-8 inches per year. Paw paws even less. Based on what I’ve read, I should be seeing a lot more growth.

Is there a chance that they just aren’t meant for my region? I’m starting to suspect that tree nurseries/vendors list the zone that their trees can survive in, but not necessarily thrive or produce fruit in. If that’s the case, most of my trees would seem to qualify.

Any advice here? I’m leaning towards fertilizing 2x a year (early spring and 1-2 months later). I haven’t really been fertilizing yet. Maybe 10-10-10 though I’m still doing some reading on this.



Yeah something is definitely off. Young plums and peaches in particular should be putting on more than a foot of growth per year, if not more. You should also consider getting a soil test done, to better understand what you are missing, mine cost like $20 and came with instructions for what kind of amendments to use.

If you have local orchards that grow peaches, plums, apples and pears you should have no problems growing them either. Search for them on Google maps.


Hopefully they are not rootbound in the 5 gallon buckets still and worked there way into the native soil. I would definitely second getting a soil test and think you should probably end up at least doing some organic fertilizing after seeing the test.
Do you mulch? whats your soil like? and do they recieve enough water in the dry and or hot spells?
What your talking about sounds okay for the first year but not year 2 or 3. Are all your trees growing this slowly or just some?


I would second the suggestions for soil testing, mulch, and fertilization above. Having said this it’s possible that the first year lack of growth was some form of transplant shock and that set the trees back.

Apples and pears should be good for your area. The other fruits I am less familiar with but I think would be ok in your zone as far as good growth. What is your soil type is it sandy, a loam or clay? Are the trees getting plenty of light? What was the condition of the soil (texture) before planting? Was it hard packed bare ground or did you plant in soil that had sod or weeds that aerates the soil? Trees can have a hard time growing in hard packed soil eventually they will adjust but they have a tough time getting established.