Note for EU customers. Our UK fruit tree guarantee does not apply to trees delivered to the EU. However, bare-root trees are very easy to transplant and usually successful. If you have any concerns please get in touch promptly and we will do our best to help you.
Our guarantee only applies to trees supplied to retail customers in the mainland of the United Kingdom. All other areas are currently excluded.
You must tell us as soon as the problem arises, this really is essential. Most problems arise in spring, and can usually be resolved then. Do not wait until June to tell us your new tree did not sprout in the spring, as it is then too late to take remedial action!
The guarantee covers the first growing season after planting. If your tree dies in its second or third growing seasons after planting, we will offer a discount on the price of a replacement or similar tree.
The guarantee does not apply to subsequent trees, since successive failures may indicate a local problem at your planting location. Similarly, if several trees of the same type die in the same way at the same time we will review possible causes with you.
It does not cover damage by animals or insect pests, or accidental damage such as that caused by strimmers or weedkillers.
It does not cover damage or loss of the tree as a result of diseases in your local area such as canker.
We cannot guarantee that the tree will produce blossom or fruit by a certain date.
If the tree is supplied in a pot, do not leave it all winter - please plant the tree promptly. The sooner it is planted the sooner it will get going in the spring.
You must make sure that your planting area is suitable for the trees you have chosen, the soil conditions are within normal ranges of pH and salinity, and the variety / rootstock is suitable for your climate and local disease pressures. Contact us in advance of ordering if you have any questions in this regard.
We do expect you to take reasonable care in planting and looking after the tree. We have many articles about growing and caring for your new fruit trees, and you can contact us online or by phone for specific advice. However we understand that sometimes a new tree just doesn't grow, no matter how careful you are.
We might not always have the same variety and format to offer an exact replacement, if so we will suggest a similar tree or a refund. We also reserve the right to offer a full refund rather than a replacement. If the cause of the problem cannot be ascertained from photographs we will usually offer a refund because of the risk of the same thing affecting the replacement.
What can go wrong when you plant a fruit tree?
Newly-planted trees need particular care and attention whilst they recover from the stress of transplanting. Here are the 3 most common reasons why a new fruit tree will fail to grow:
- Inadequate watering during the spring and summer of the first and second year after planting. This is the number one reason for a new tree failing to establish, and accounts for around 90% of the problems reported to us. It is particularly an issue with spring-planted pot-grown trees. When the tree comes out of winter dormancy it immediately places a demand for water on the roots, and until the roots have fully established (which can take a couple of years) they may not be able to cope without extra watering. If a tree dies quickly in the spring after putting out leaves, lack of watering is the most likely cause. Fortunately, if you alert us in time, it is easy to diagnose and fix watering issues!
- In the case of 1-year old trees on dwarf or semi-vigorous rootstocks, failure to carry out the important initial pruning after planting can often prevent the tree from getting going in the spring. This is the second most common cause of tree failures in the first year after planting.
- The tree is surrounded by grass and weeds. Young trees are unable to compete with other vegetation until they are fully established. Try to keep an area of clear ground with a diameter of 1m / 3ft around the base of the tree, at least for the first few years.
Some other common problems to be aware of:
- We do not recommend planting fruit trees in containers. Most fruit trees will grow happily in containers, provided they are large enough, have the correct soil mix (not pure compost), and are properly watered. However they can die surprisingly quickly over the spring and summer if they are not regularly watered or the compost mix is wrong. Furthermore, we specifically do not recommend growing plum trees or damson trees in containers, unless they are exceptionally large - contact us for more details if you wish to do this.
- The tree is poorly supported or leaning over, which prevents its roots establishing.
- Aphid attacks. These are easily prevented by simply squashing the first arrivals, which usually congregate at the tips of growing shoots. Once the colony gets established you will need to spray to eliminate it - but by then the damage will have been done and you will lose a lot of the potential growth of the tree for the season.
- The tree has been eaten by deer or rabbits. This sort of damage is usually not fatal if spotted quickly and further attacks prevented, but it is better to be safe than sorry because a hungry animal can very quickly ring the bark of a young tree and kill it.
- Accidents with strimmers - these are one of the main dangers facing young fruit trees. They will often recover from strimmer damage, but it can provide an entry point for diseases.
- If your tree is planted in a lawn, be careful not to allow lawn fertilizers or herbicides to drift on to the tree or to be carried towards the tree by rain run-off. The typical symptoms are that the young tree will change from thriving to dying fairly quickly, with the leaves dropping away so that only a stick is left.
- Be careful not to over-feed fruit trees. Newly-planted fruit trees generally do not need feeding, and can be overwhelmed by excess nutrients which may cause them to stop growing and possibly die.
- Various fungal disease problems, which tend to be location or climate-specific. If spotted early enough these can usually be dealt with before they overwhelm the new tree.
- Do not prune a newly-planted tree in late spring or summer, particularly if it is struggling. Pruning will not stimulate more growth at this stage, it will simply weaken the tree further.
Some of the more unusual reasons why trees have failed:
- Keeping the tree indoors over the winter because it was 'too cold outside'. Never try to keep fruit trees in a heated house over winter.
- Digging up the tree in mid-summer to move it to a new location. If you need to move a tree after planting, wait until it is dormant, and get in touch with us for further advice.
So, if my tree doesn't look happy what should I do?
Contact us as soon as you notice a problem. Time really is of the essence with fruit tree problems and the sooner you let us know the more chance there is to put things right, especially in the spring when new trees should be growing at a rapid rate. Do not wait until the end of the season to tell us about a problem that your first noticed in the spring or summer.
Send us photos showing the entire tree (including the soil), and also the tips of the main shoots. (It is sometimes difficult to focus a camera on a thin shoot tip, so ask a friend to hold the shoot so that the camera has an arm or hand to focus on).
Even if you just want some reassurance, or have concerns about the way the tree is growing, please get in touch.
What about the longer term?
Our service doesn't stop after we have delivered your tree, or even after the first year that your tree is in the ground. If your tree dies in its second or third growing seasons after planting, we will offer a discount on a replacement.
Many customers stay in touch, sending us photos of their trees as they grow to maturity, or asking for ongoing advice about pruning and training.
One of the advantages of buying fruit trees from us is that you can become part of the Orange Pippin community. You can register your trees on our sister website and record blossom and harvest details, and compare your trees with those of other growers.
We want you to be successful in growing and harvesting your new fruit trees. We offer our guarantee because we are confident in the quality of the trees we supply, and in the advice and information we provide to help you plant and nurture them to maturity. However young fruit trees are surprisingly robust and it is actually very rare for a tree to fail to establish.