How to Plant Dwarf Apple Trees


Growing dwarf apple trees is a smart alternative to growing much larger full-sized apple trees when space is limited. They will produce fruit a little earlier than the standard-sized tree and are much easier to prune and care for because of their small size. The apples they produce are just as beautiful, just as big and just as delicious as the apples from full-sized trees. You can plant a dwarf apple tree with a few simple directives.

Step 1

Locate a site for the dwarf apple tree where it will get at least six hours or more of full sun during the day. The soil will need to drain well, as the apple tree will slowly die in soggy soil. Clear away all the weeds, and mark a circle at least 2 feet wider than the root ball of the tree.

Step 2

Dig a hole for your dwarf apple tree. Make it deeper than the root ball. If you are planting a bare root tree, dig the hole deeper than the length of the roots. If the soil is not nutrient-rich, mix your amendments, such as compost, into the soil that was removed from the hole.

Step 3

Set your stake into the hole just off center. It will need to be secured at least a foot into the ground, so pound it in with a sledge hammer. For many dwarf apple trees, this stake will need to remain in place for the life of the tree to help support the weight of the fruit. But some semi-dwarf trees will need it for only the first five years.

Step 4

Remove the dwarf apple tree from the container it came in and loosen the roots. If there are roots longer than 18 inches, trim them with sharp shears. Set the plant into the center of the hole and spread out the roots slightly around the support stake. Shovel the soil you previously removed back into the hole around the apple tree.

Step 5

Fill the hole until all the dirt is replaced and tamp it down well with the heel of your shoe to make sure there are no air pockets. At the same time, make sure the support stake is standing straight. The apple tree graft point or bud union should be a couple of inches above the soil line.

Step 6

Secure the trunk of the tree to the support stake by wrapping the wire around the stake a couple of times, threading it through a section of garden hose, wrapping the hose loosely around the trunk of the tree and attaching the rest of the wire to the stake. The garden hose will prevent the wire from cutting into the bark.

Step 7

Water the newly planted dwarf apple tree with a couple of gallons of water every week to make sure it lasts through the first summer growing season. You can mulch around the tree to conserve moisture, but keep it away from the bark to prevent mold.

Things You'll Need

  • Dwarf apple tree
  • Shovel
  • Garden shears
  • 2-by-2-inch 8-foot-long stake
  • Sledge hammer
  • Section of garden hose
  • Wire (No. 9)


  • University of Missouri Extension: Home Fruit Production
  • Ohio State University Fact Sheet: Growing Apples in the Home Orchard
Keywords: dwarf apple tree, home orchard, fruit garden

About this Author

Maryland resident Heide Braley is a professional writer who contributes to a variety of websites. She has focused more than 10 years of research on botanical and garden articles and was awarded a membership to the Society of Professional Journalists. Braley has studied at Pennsylvania State University and Villanova University.