How to Grow Apples

Apples on tree image by Random Tree/Flickr.com

Overview

Watching a young apple tree that you have planted grow into a thriving, fruit-producing, mature tree is a satisfying experience. Enjoying the beauty of the yearly blossoms it provides is only outdone by the tasty treats that follow. Eating fresh picked apples, right from your own tree is definitely a pleasure. Selecting the right type of disease-resistant tree, the best location and growing more than one variety are keys to successfully growing an apple tree.

Step 1

Decide on the types of apple trees you want to grow. You must have at least two different varieties for pollination, unless there are other trees located within 50 feet. Consult with a local nursery, horticultural center or use the Ohio and North Carolina University links in Resources for more details concerning this.

Step 2

Choose a location for the tree considering its fully-grown size. Stay clear of power lines, other trees, buildings or additional obstructions. Apples trees grow best with full sun all day. Plant in the beginning of spring after the ground is thawed.

Step 3

Select a site that has well-drained soil and good air circulation. Give the trees no less than 15 to 20 feet spacing in between for dwarf varieties. Allow 20 to 25 for semi-dwarf and 30 to 35 for standard apple trees.

Step 4

Use a shovel, rake and hoe to remove any grass, roots, rocks or other debris in the area selected. Do this in a circle with a diameter of 3 feet for each apple tree.

Step 5

Dig a hole twice as big as the width of the entire root system on the tree purchased and 2 feet deep or to allow the graft union to be 2 or 3 inches above ground level. Use a rake on the sides and bottom of hole to loosen the soil, which will help the roots spread out easier.

Step 6

Unwind, loosen roots and use a sharp knife to cut off damaged ones, if needed. Carefully spread the roots of the new apple tree out inside the hole.

Step 7

Hold tree firmly in place. Use a shovel to fill hole with clean soil. Gently step on newly placed soil to pack it and remove any air pockets.

Step 8

Supply 3 to 5 gallons of water slowly to the tree. Continue to water 5 gallons each week, if the rainfall is less than 1 inch for the first season.

Step 9

Use a shovel to add 3 -- 4 inches of mulch around the bottom of the tree extending out at least 3 feet. Leave at least 2 inches of space between the trunk of the apple tree and the mulch.

Step 10

Prune the apple tree as needed, after planting and each following growing season. Learn more about pruning from the Washtenaw County Conservation District Organization or the Maine, Ohio or North Carolina University links in Resources.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never add fertilizer in the hole when planting an apple tree, which can damage the roots severely. If your soil needs it, add ½ pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer 7 to 10 days after planting. Do this again in 40 days. Keep it at least 1 foot from the tree trunk. Use a hoe to work it 2 or 3 inches into the soil and water thoroughly.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Gloves
  • Rake
  • Sharp knife
  • Pruning shears
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer
  • Hoe

References

  • University of Maine Cooperative Extension: Planting and Early Care of Fruit Trees
  • Washtenaw County Conservation District Organization: Planting and Care of Fruit Trees
  • Ohio State University Fact Sheet: Growing Apples in the Home Orchard

Who Can Help

  • National Gardening Association: Apple Essentials
  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Growing Apple Trees in the Home Garden
  • Garden Action: How to Grow Apple Trees
Keywords: Grow apple tree, Plant apple tree, Growing apple tree

About this Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published online at the Travel Channel and Intel.

Photo by: Random Tree/Flickr.com