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Plant Service Tree

Sorbus domestica, also known as service tree, sparrow, or spitting apple, is one of the wild fruit trees and is assigned to the rose family, Rosaceae. Its population is declining, it is now one of the rarest tree species in Germany.

Planting time and site conditions

If you want to plant a service tree in your garden, you should ideally do so in autumn. The winter moisture enables the young plant to optimally connect to the ground and the activity of the roots of the service tree begins as early as March.

Seedlings in the form of container plants with a small ball are particularly recommended for planting in gardens.
Warm soil with a high lime content offers ideal conditions for the service tree.
You should definitely avoid waterlogging in the young plants.

The adequate planting of service trees

To plant a service tree, dig a planting hole three times the diameter of the root ball, place the seedling in it and then fill the hole with good compost. After planting the young plants, generous watering is essential.

As a fast-growing plant, the service tree needs a supporting post, for example, a strong bamboo stick, for its still weak shoots. The rod prevents the seedling from buckling due to weather conditions such as wind and provides stability.

Protection against feeding pests

To protect the sensitive roots and foliage of the service tree from being eaten by mice and other rodents, bite protection is suitable. Place a small wire basket with a size of 30 x 40 cm and a mesh size of 11 mm in the dug hole underground. The seedling can then be placed in the basket. Attach spirals of rabbit wire about 1 m high and about 30 cm wide to the support post to protect against bites.

Care tips and prophylaxis

The service tree is still quite sensitive when it is growing, so it should be watered regularly in the year of planting and the following year. Also remove shrubs, herbs, and other plants growing in the immediate vicinity, as these can hinder the growth of the service tree.

Like many members of the rose family, Sorbus domestica is susceptible to scab, but also to bark canker.

A broad-spectrum fungicide applied regularly in the first years of growth can help against fungal diseases.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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