Apple Growing Guide
- Apple trees need at least 8 hours of sun per day during the growing season.
- Two varieties are required for successful pollination; one can be a crabapple.
- Dwarf apple trees will start bearing fruit 2 to 3 years after planting.
- Standard size trees can take up to 8 years to bear fruit.
- Some varieties are more susceptible to insect and disease damage than others.
- Prune annually to keep apple trees healthy and productive.
Once established, apples requir very little care throughout the year. Water apples during dry spells and from when the fruit starts to swell, particularly if they are newly planted or in containers. The most effective method of doing this for row of fruit trees is to place a drip line or seep hose under the trees. Large, established trees will be more resistant to periods of drought.
Care through the seasons
March—For existing trees, prune before growth begins, after coldest weather has passed
- April, May—Plant bare root trees as soon as the soil can be worked
- April, May—If last year's growth was less than 12 inches, apply compost around the base of tree
- May, June—Plant potted trees after threat of frost has passed
- May, June—As flower buds begin to turn pink, start watching for insect and disease symptoms
- May through October—Water trees as you would any other tree in your yard
- June, July—Thin fruit
- remove smallest apples to encourage larger fruit
- August through October—Harvest
- taste fruit when it appears to be fully colored
- if it's too starchy, wait a few days
- October, November—Rake up fallen leaves and fruit; compost or discard
- November—Apply tree wrap to prevent winter injury
- November through March—Look for deer and vole damage; put fencing around tree if needed
Preparing for Planting
Find a sunny location
Apple trees require full sun, so choose a spot where the sun shines directly on the tree for at least 8 hours each day.
Test your soil
When it comes to soil, apple trees can grow in most soils as long as there is no standing water and the pH of the soil is between 6 and 7.
- Have your soil tested to determine pH
- pH of the soil should be between 6 and 7
- Apple trees can grow in most soils as long as there is no standing water
- Avoid planting in areas where water stands for several hours after a rain
If you are unsure about your soil pH, conduct a soil test to determine soil conditions before planting and amend the soil as suggested by the results.
How much space do you need for apple trees? A good rule of thumb for a garden fruit tree is to provide at least as much horizontal space as the anticipated height of the tree. So, if your tree will grow up to 8 feet high, make sure there are 8 feet between it and the next tree.
Planting trees too close together will increase shading and reduce the number and quality of the fruit coming from your tree.
- Standard trees: 20-25 feet
- Semi-dwarf trees: 12-15 feet
- Dwarf trees: 6-8 feet
Throughout the life of the tree, you should water its root zone thoroughly during the growing season whenever there is a dry spell. Ideally, the tree should receive one inch of water from rainfall or irrigation every week from May through October.