How To Choose Apple Trees!

If you're seriously contemplating having apples to harvest from your backyard, growing apple trees from seed is not really feasible. (read on to find out why) However it is a really nice project to do with the kids. The best way to get the right stock is to head over to your favorite tree nursery. The staff there will be able to tell you all about the final tree sizes and even which would be suitable for your yard etc.

But before you rush out to buy your first apple tree here are some things to ponder and contemplate.

 

1) You should consider the size, height and spread of the tree and will it fit into your garden space.

 

The size and vigor of the tree is determined by the rootstock. Almost all of today's apple tree varieties have been grafted and very few have anything still in common with the old "Johnny apple-seed" of yesteryear. If you were to start an apple tree from an ordinary apple seed your tree could grow 30 feet + tall and possibly within 6-8 years you would be able to find out that your tree's apples might not even resemble your original ‘parent' apple at all. This is all because of the cross-pollination and grafting that occurred to the original apple's home tree.

Your choices because of the grafting, rootstocking etc. are really limitless and most types of apple trees come in regular height and dwarf type. (some tree pros seem to think that the regular height trees might just be a better fruit supplier... as they say that you can always keep pruning al trees to stay under 7 feet tall)

 

Granny smith
Granny smith
Braeburn
Braeburn
Red delicious
Red delicious
Yellow delicious
Yellow delicious
Royal Gala
Royal Gala
Cortland
Cortland

2) You need to contemplate and decide what you intend to do with for your apples. Do you want a dessert type or an acidic cooking apple for apple pies, compote and sauce? Consider the taste of the apples. Do you like your eating apples crispy crunchy or soft, super juicy and sweet or more acidic. Do you want your fruit to last well into the spring - the combinations of apple types are almost endless.

The tree nursery staff will ask all your particulars; such as yard size, what type of soil you have and what kind of apples you would like to grow etc. So it would be wise to have a bit of a list with you so you forget any of your wants and dislikes. Most nurseries sell two-three year old trees which will most likely not produce too many apples in the first couple of years (maybe just a dozen or so) so it is an investment in time more so then money (the average price for a great two year old apple trees is no more then $20-25 in my neck of the woods). Because you will be waiting impatiently for your first crop it would be a shame not to have the apple you really like. So choose wisely.

The cross pollination, grafting etc is responsible for the all the different apples available now. The most popular apples like the McIntosh, Paula red, Red and Yellow delicious, Royal Gala, Brae-burn, Jersey-Mac, Fuji, Granny Smith are all super tasting combinations.

3) Talking about pollination - most apple trees are self-sterile. With other words they require the pollen from other apple trees in order to produce fruit. This is when you can play around and you could actually come up with an apple that has the characteristics of many types of apples all rolled into one. I suggest though that until you know all there is to know about this cross pollination you stick with one or e maybe two kinds of apple trees. Again you should ask the staff at your tree nursery. Give them all your particulars off the list you made.

Years ago my Gramps trellised and grafted his apple trees. There were three different types of apples growing on each. I'm not sure that they were any of the brands that are available at the markets now. It really looked funny because on the lowest branch he had the early really hard sour green apples growing that he used to make his 'schnapps' out of. The middle branches were overloaded with Granma's favorite red-cheeked similar to today's Paula-reds. Then on the far top section were the late fall Cortland types that were soooo juicy and plentiful that we all (five families) had enough for eating and baking to last till way past Christmas.

Now I really do not want to contradict what the people from the nursery will tell you about how far trees need to be but the olden days rule of thumb of 10 feet apart spacing is not that common anymore. Check out the modern commercial orchards. They use small trees spaced close together in order to stay competitive. My Gramps had planted his apple trees only 2 feet apart which he then trained or trellised onto the fence right around the whole yard just like grape vines. I have planted my cortlands 2' apart in a hedgerow they are 3 years old this fall so I'm expecting great things from them next year. I will need to prune them probably mid or end of february (depending on our Canadian winter). Dwarf trees I'm told can also be planted in a 4-5 cluster 20-24" apart. I would assume that for the sake of airyness in and around the 'inside' branches will need to be prunned.

Now one more suggestion. If your contemplating your 'home orchard' from a catalogue try to order them from somewhere close to your zone because that will save you from problems coming up with not being cold hardy or not suitable for warm climates.

As far as fruit trees go apple trees are really a hearty lot some types can thrive way up north and also grow well in the warm climates like California too. All depends on how and where they're planted. Again ask your tree nursery or your horticulturist friend about growing suggestion for your area.

You haven't got a yard you say just a patio well guess what there are fruit bearing trees available that grow in pots on the patio... no and they really are not 20' tall monsters either. They are called Columnar Apple trees. Check them out.

Growing fruit trees can be an awesome hobby, apple trees are one of the easier ones to grow and as far as I'm concerned also the best as there is nothing nicer then reaching up and grabing an apple right off the branches because you can keep the trees the size you want in order to prune and pick without a ladder.

Good luck... fall is a good time to be planting trees of anysort.

More by this Author


Comments 24 comments

Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 4 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Joelipoo, thank you for taking a look and for commenting.

regards Zsuzsy


Joelipoo profile image

Joelipoo 4 years ago from Ohio

Home-grown apples are so far superior than what can be found in the stores. I have been fortunate to grow up with apples. My grandparents had an orchard of several hundred trees but have since downsized to a smaller lot and only 40. My dad has grafted several of their trees, and it is so incredible how you can have multiple apples on one tree. My personal favorites are gala, melrose, and mutsu. Great hub.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 5 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

ClaireLou, I would think that it has everything to do with the type of apple trees you have. Maybe you're picking them too early. My Gramps always said that apples (not the summer apples types) should stay on the trees until a mild frost can pull the sweetness into them.

Maybe you should try leaving some of the apples on the tree really late and then compare.

maybe this will help

regards Zsuzsy


ClaireLou 5 years ago

Our apples in our garden are sour! they are small eating apples and we bought the trees many years ago. We pick the apples every year when they are ready and we can olnly cook with them. WHy is this? we only have 2 trees. They arnt next to each other but are close enough.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

drcrischasse, double check with the nursery where you bought the tree because as I mentioned in the hub some trees are modified to be self-pollinators...

thanks for taking a look and for commenting.

regards Zsuzsy


drcrischasse profile image

drcrischasse 6 years ago from NH/Foxboro

I just planted mine this weekend. I had no idea you needed a male and a female


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

Zsuzsy thanks for nice comments


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Lgali! No I don't think that a single apple tree will die of loneliness (haha). However if it's not a self-pollinating type of tree then it will not produce fruit. My first apple tree I ever planted was a Granny Smith seven years ago, it grew to a nice size (almost 12 feet tall ) however it never gave any apples until last year when the other apple trees I had planted bloomed in their second year. This past fall I got 2 + bushels of apples off it. They taste a lot like the Granny Smith but they are not pure green as all my other trees are Cortlands.

Thanks for having a look always glad when you come for a visit

regards Zsuzsy


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Tonks! Apple trees are quite happy in most climates. Naturally there are some that are hardier in warm temps then others. You should check with your local garden centers which kinds they suggest. Thanks for taking a look.

regards Zsuzsy


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

Is it true we needs two apple tree nearby otherwise single tree will die


tonks21 profile image

tonks21 7 years ago from V-Town

Love the hub. I love apple trees. Can you grow them well in Georgia?


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

RGraf! Glad if the hub helps a little. regards Zsuzsy


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

Very interesting. We are discussing planting a few trees next year.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

C.S. Trellising is my big plan for my apple trees. I just wished I would have paid more attention to my Gramps all those years ago when he was trellising, grafting etc. I will let you know how my efforts go.

regards Zsuzsy


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

SweetiePie! Glad you came by for a visit. I just shoved an apple and grape crisp into the oven. The apple and cinnamon is starting to smell delicious.

regards Zsuzsy


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Princessa! Don't give up. Try again and I'm sure it will work out next time.

regards Zsuzsy


C.S.Alexis profile image

C.S.Alexis 7 years ago from NW Indiana

I never tried trellising any fruit trees. How much space does this require, length and width? I could be interested in doing this for a fence row so.... I would have to keep a distance for access from the property line.

I love to walk in the orchard it makes my heart feel good. Thanks for a great share Zsuzsy! Happy Autumn to you too! C.S.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

What a timely hub considering is it apple harvesting season here in the Northern Hemisphere.  Since I was young I remember my mom planting our Haralson apple tree, and then later we had a yellow delicious.  We also used to have a Northern Spy, but when the septic tank had to be replaced the tractor damaged the roots and killed part of this lovely tree.  Then the poor tree suffered more damage when our puppy ate the bark off of it.  Poor Northern Spy :(, but the others have done just fine and bear beautiful fruit yearly.  Just last weekend my mom brought me a large bag of Haralson apples and a bag of bears, so I have been eating the pears as the apples need to ripen just a bit longer.  I love to make apple and pear crisps, so now I have enough to make these with.  Thanks for the lovely and informative hub.


Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France

Zsuzsy, I wish I had read this before I bought my tree. As expected from a 'city girl gardener' my poor tree did not survive the first year. I have tried apples, pears and oranges and much to my dispair they all died. I blamed the weather but my neighbours had a great harvest... so it was me :(

Hopefully, thanks to your hub, I will give it another try. Wish me luck!


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

My big plan next is to trellis a few of them along the side of the small barn.Now I could do that along the garage, thanks.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Bob! Cortland are my favorite apple too. I planted 12 of them in a 25 foot long hedge row three years ago. I got a couple of dozen off this year but next year I'm hoping for a good yield... well as good as young tree will give. They will just get better every year after that. I didn't go for the dwarf kind I will just keep them pruned to 7 feet tall. My big plan next is to trellis a few of them along the side of the small barn.

Thanks for coming for a visit regards Zsuzsy


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Isabella! What kind are your apple trees in your garden? Do you prune them? I just love trees but I have a deep appreciation for the "working" trees; the fruit and nut trees.

So glad you stopped by. regards Zsuzsy


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

Apple trees, that is what i'd like to plant next spring. Cortlands if I can get a dwarf stock, thanks for this informative hub.


Isabella Snow profile image

Isabella Snow 7 years ago

Apples! I love apples in pie and applesauce. There are a few apples trees in my garden and they are really pretty in the spring!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working