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How to Care for an Apple Tree

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How to Care for an Apple Tree

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Overview

Apple trees are hardy and fairly easy to care for. Once your apple tree begins to bear fruit, it will continue to do so provided the tree stays healthy and there are nearby apple trees to cross-pollinate. With a little bit of annual care, you can expect good apple harvests for years to come.

Pruning

Step 1

Prune the tree between February an April. If you prune too late in the season, the tree will not have enough time to heal before the dormant winter season.

Step 2

Remove undesired branches by making straight cuts close to the limb the branch comes out of. Ideally, you will leave no stump.

Step 3

Remove broken, damaged, or dead branches and diseased limbs. Thin, brittle branches can be broken off with your hands. Thicker ones may require pruning shears.

Step 4

Remove upright, quick-growing branches near the center of the tree. These limbs, called water sprouts weaken the overall tree and make fruit grow up higher where it is harder to harvest.

Step 5

Cut off problem branches. Branches that shoot off the main trunk at a narrow angle (35 degrees or less) are likely to be weak, and may cause the tree to split later. You should also cut off branches that rub together, as these can become injured.

General Care

Step 1

Fertilize the tree with 10-10-10 fertilizer immediately after the last frost. Measure the diameter of the tree and spread a 1/2 lb. of fertilizer evenly around it for every inch in diameter.

Step 2

Spray the tree with dormant oil according to the directions on the bottle early in the spring. This will kill any insects that have wintered on the apple tree before they can affect the buds. Wait until the temperature is above freezing and expected to stay that way for at least 24 hours.

Step 3

Apply a general purpose fruit tree spray according to the directions once your fruit begins to ripen if your apples were affected by bugs the last year. If your apples were not severely affected by worms, apple maggots or other pests in the past, you don't need to use spray.

Step 4

Remove weeds and grasses from around the base of an apple tree. Weeds will suck up moisture and nutrients from the soil, leaving less for the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning sheers
  • Fertilizer
  • Dormant oil
  • Fruit tree spray

References

  • University of New Hampshire Extension Backyard Apple Tree Guide
  • University of Nebraska Lincoln Apple Tree Care

Who Can Help

  • How to Prune an Apple Tree
Keywords: apple tree care, pruning apple trees, mature apple trees

About this Author

Isaiah David is a freelance writer and musician living in Portland, Ore. He has over five years experience as a professional writer and has been published on various online outlets. He holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.