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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.