There are hundreds of kinds of apple trees, from heirloom varieties to newly engineered varieties. Most grocery stores and home growers stick to several common varieties. Not only are these apple trees widely available, but they are disease resistant, yield large crops and produce apples that can be eaten fresh as well as used for baking, sauces and juice. The common types of apple trees also tend to come in several sizes, such as dwarf, semi-dwarf and standard, making them suitable for growing in backyards and smaller spaces if necessary.
Gala apple trees come in both standard and dwarf sizes and produce one of the tastiest apples that is also suitable for baking. Because Gala trees will withstand higher temperatures than many other apple varieties, they can be grown throughout most of the United States, except in areas where temperatures never drop, such as southern California, southern Texas and southern Florida. Gala apple trees are usually cross-pollinated with Golden Delicious.
An excellent eating apple, Golden Delicious is the second most popular apple tree in the United States, according to Aaron's Nursery. It is also commonly used in making apple sauce. Fruit is usually ready to harvest in September, and the Golden Delicious tree is known for bearing large crops. Although it has a similar name, the Golden Delicious is not at all related to the Red Delicious apple tree. Golden Delicious are available in a dwarf variety that reaches 10 feet and semi-dwarf that grows up to 20 feet tall. Best pollinators include Red Delicious, Gala and Empire.
An extra-sweet apple, the Fuji is good for eating and cooking and is popular in many desserts. The Fuji can tolerate heat and can be grown successfully in the southeastern U.S. Fuji apple trees are usually harvested in mid-October. They grow 17 to 20 feet tall and are most often cross-pollinated with Rome and Braeburn.
Braeburn apples are more tart than most other eating apples, but are still mainly consumed fresh. They are also used in baking and for juice. The Braeburn apple tree is most popular in New Zealand but has gained substantial popularity in the U.S., squeezing its way into the top five varieties grown in Washington. The trees usually reach 20 feet tall. Their best cross-pollinators are Rome and Fuji.
With its mild flavor, the Rome apple is most often used in cooking but is still delicious fresh. Rome apple trees come in dwarf, semi-dwarf and standard size varieties. The apples ripen in September in most climates. The Rome apple tree is self-pollinating and does not require other varieties nearby in order to produce fruit. Appropriate cross-pollinators, if desired, are Fuji and Braeburn.