How To Grow And Care For An Apple Tree

Growing and caring for apple trees.

Growing an apple tree is not only a delicious choice for your garden but pleasing to the eye and fairly easy to maintain as well. Before purchasing an apple tree it is important to take into consideration the size of your yard and the pollination requirements of the tree. Also be sure to choose varieties that you will enjoy the taste of.

Although all apple trees are self-incompatible (not able to pollinate itself or another tree of the same variety) there are some on the market that have several different types of apples grafted onto one rootstock. Unless you purchase one of these, you will need to plant at least two different types of apple trees that are of compatible varieties to insure the cross-pollination occurs. Without the cross-pollination there will be no fruit. Your local gardening center can help you make the best choices for your particular area,

The size of the tree is determined by its rootstock. Apple trees vary in size from approximately twelve to twenty feet in height. There are many dwarf or size-controlled varieties available. If planting more than one tree, be sure to provide for ample spacing between them.

Apple trees should be planted in late fall or early spring. Choose a sunny location for your tree. Although apple trees can survive in most types of soil, you must be sure that your tree will be allowed good drainage and avoid planting it in a low spot. If the tree's roots sit in water, the tree will die. If you are planting your tree in an existing lawn, it is recommended that you remove the grass in a four-foot diameter prior to planting.

To plant an apple tree, dig a hole that is two feet deep and twice the diameter of the tree's root system. Replace half the soil that you removed. Place the roots into the hole being careful they don't become twisted amongst each other. Return the rest of the soil to the hole slowly and firm it down over the roosts. Don't allow any air pockets to be created. When you have finished, water thoroughly. Cover the area surrounding the tree with a thick carpet of mulch to help keep the roots moist and suppress weeds. Water the tree regularly, especially in times of drought. Apply a good, balanced fertilizer in early spring.

Apple trees need careful and regular pruning to keep them healthily growing at their best. This should be done once a year. Depending on the type of tree you have chosen it might best be done in the winter or summer. Pruning a young apple tree is done to help it to maintain its proper shape. The main things to look for while pruning a mature tree is to remove weak, unproductive or dead wood, diseased wood, overcrowded branches and any branches that are crossing one another and touching.

It can take up to three years for apple trees to set fruit. When your tree does, it is important to thin the fruit when it is still small. Apple trees tend to produce too much fruit for its limbs to be able to hold. Thinning the fruit helps to keep the weight down and also will provide you with bigger, better quality fruit. Apples grow in clusters on the tree. To thin the apples you will need to cut the central apple out of the cluster using a pruning tool. Also remove any small, badly formed or damaged fruit from the cluster.

If you notice a severe insect or disease problem with your apple tree, it may be necessary to spray the tree with a fungicide and/or insecticide. Speak with a representative at your local gardening center to determine the best solution to use.

The apples on your tree will not all ripen at exactly the same time. They will ripen one by one over the course of several weeks. You will know that your apple tree is ready to harvest when the fruit comes away from the tree easily in your hands. To harvest the apples properly simply take an apple firmly in your hand and twist. If the apple does not come away easily, leave it there for a while longer.

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