Taking Care of an Apple Tree


Apple trees are popular fruit trees in home landscapes due to their hardiness and good fruit production. Apple trees can grow in many cold-winter regions and withstand below-zero-degree temperatures quite easily. There are a wide range of apple varieties, some of which are standard size and some that are grown on dwarf rootstocks especially for small-space landscapes or container growing. Apple trees are easy to care for, but they do require proper training and pruning to develop into strong, healthy fruit-producing trees.

Step 1

Water your newly planted apple tree deeply and thoroughly to soak the soil down to the roots once each week during the first spring, summer and fall. Water established apple trees once each week in the absence of rainfall.

Step 2

Feed your apple tree with one cup of a 10-10-10 NPK formula fertilizer about one month after planting it and again in June, spreading the fertilizer granules in a 2-foot-diameter circle around the tree. In the second year, apply two cups of 10-10-10 fertilizer over a 3-foot-diameter circle around the tree in early spring and again in June.

Step 3

Mulch a 3-foot-by-3-foot area around your apple tree to control weeds and regulate soil moisture. Make the mulch layer 2 to 3 inches deep and pull the mulch about 2 inches away from the trunk in fall to prevent nesting mice from damaging the bark.

Step 4

Feed your 3- to 5-year-old apple tree with a 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer in early spring at a rate of two cups per year of tree age. Feed 6-year-old and older apple trees with four cups of 33-0-0 NPK fertilizer (ammonium nitrate) or six cups for apple trees that are 9 years old and older.

Step 5

Prune your apple tree lightly throughout the spring, summer and early autumn to remove dead, damaged or diseased branches. Perform heavier pruning in late winter or early spring, right before new growth begins, to remove suckers growing up around the trunk, downward-growing branches, crowded or rubbing branches, and interior branches that are shaded.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never allow the fertilizer to have contact with the apple tree's trunk because this can injure the roots and bark. Spread the fertilizer evenly over the entire root area of the apple tree and keep the granules about 6 inches away from the base of the trunk.

Things You'll Need

  • Hose
  • 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer
  • Ammonium nitrate (33-0-0 NPK fertilizer)
  • Mulch
  • Pruning tools


  • Clemson University Extension: Apple
  • Clemson University Extension: Pruning & Training Apple & Pear Trees

Who Can Help

  • About Apple Trees: Apple Tree Care
  • National Gardening Association: Plant Care Guides -- Apple
Keywords: apple tree care, grow apple trees, apple tree maintenance

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.