According to the Arizona Master Gardener Manual:

The best time to plant bare root fruit trees is during the dormant period. In general, trees should be planted as early as possible or about 30 days prior to expected bud break or average bud break in the geographical area.

Is it okay to plant fruit trees months after bud break? Would I just need to water them more?

  • @pnuts Yes, I'm thinking mission fig in USDA zone 9. – Geremia May 16 '17 at 3:28

Is your tree bare root? That means that the roots are completely exposed and have no soil around them. I'm assuming it is either balled and burlapped or a container grown fruit tree. If it is, then it is not too late to plant. Get that tree in the ground sooner rather than later, but don't stress too much about it.

If it is bare root and you have somehow miraculously kept it alive while leafing out, get it either in the ground or into a container asap. Keep the soil moist pretty much continuously for the first month.

  • So, even if it isn't bare root, is it still ideal to plant "30 days prior to expected bud break"? – Geremia May 16 '17 at 3:29
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    Container-grown trees can be planted pretty much any time. However if you plant when the leaves are off, the tree does have a chance to repair any root damage without leaves transpiring a lot of water; so if you plant with leaves out, be extra careful not to damage the roots. And fertilizer is almost always "more harm than good" for a young tree. – Ecnerwal May 16 '17 at 3:31

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