Apples trees are grown from seeds that are either planted directly into the ground or are grown to a small sapling size in a controlled, contained environment. The seeds must be placed in a nutrient-rich soil that is well drained and contains low levels of acidity. Though apple trees grow naturally without fertilizer, a fertilizing schedule of well-balanced chemicals will promote vigorous growth of the apple tree. The combination should include phosphorous, potassium and nitrogen. These trees grow best in well-drained areas, ideally on hilltops and high elevations. These planting conditions not only allow the tree to avoid wet feet, it allows the tree to evade the damage from colder evening weather and winds.
As newly planted trees develop, they will produce buds which remain dormant during the winter months. These buds slowly swell and grow during the early spring. The buds begin to expand and the leaves of the buds develop. In turn, the flower's filaments, sepals and petals develop. The flowers include pollen, along with the nectar that attracts bees for pollination. With the help of pollination, the flower's stigmas receive pollen which is used by its ovaries to produce seeds. After pollination is complete, the tree's flowers fall from the tree. The pollinated ovaries remain, enlarging on the tree. These ovaries develop into fruit, initially fuzzy, covered with soft hairs. As the fruit develops, the soft hairs drop from the surface and the fruit begins to appear more like an apple. The fruit increases in size during the summer months. The increased amounts of sun and water help to develop larger, sweeter apples.
Young trees do not produce fruit for approximately 6 years. However, the tree's buds will produce flowers. These flowers will help to pollinate the tree, and surrounding apple trees. Pollination is especially important during the early years and every growing season, since the amount of successful pollination is directly related to the growth, size and quality of the fruit. Pollination occurs through insects such as bees as well as wind and rainfall. Young trees will grow toward their mature size during their fifth and sixth years. Many apples trees can grow to heights of 30 feet. Still, the actual size of your tree will be determined by the type of apple tree you have selected. The tree will have reached its complete maturity during its first year of producing full-sized apples.
The tree's apples will develop throughout the summer months and into the early fall. There is no standard harvesting time for apple trees. Harvest the tree as the fruit begins to ripen and its full color begins to appear. Apple trees will drop ripened fruit from their branches as they begin to increase in size. Toward the end of fall, the tree will have dropped any fruit that has yet to be removed. Its growing period will end. The tree will no longer produce the chlorophyll and its leaves change colors. The tree will go into a dormant state until the temperatures begin to rise in the spring.