How to Grow Apple Trees in Iowa


Apple trees are deciduous trees that produce fruit in the fall season in Iowa. Several trees must be planted in the same area, as the trees require cross pollination in order to produce fruit. The cultivars are grafted onto hardy rootstock, making it possible to create dwarf tree varieties in addition to standard-sized trees. Dwarf trees reach a height up to 10 feet but require additional care, as the root system is shallow. Standard-sized apple trees grow up to 20 feet in height but they can be controlled through proper pruning.

Step 1

Choose a planting location that has a nutrient-rich soil that is well draining, and full sun conditions.

Step 2

Plant apple trees in early spring once the soil thaws yet the air temperatures are still cool. Soak bare root tree stock in a bucket of water for several hours before planting.

Step 3

Dig a hole that is 2 feet wider than the tree root spread and a depth so the graft scar remains 2 inches above the ground level.

Step 4

Prune to remove broken roots and spread the remaining roots out when placing the root ball in the hole. Fill the hole with the same soil that was removed to make the hole. Gently pack the soil while filling to prevent air pockets.

Step 5

Water the tree with 1-2 gallons of water immediately after planting. Continue to water the tree regularly with a drip irrigation setup for several weeks to stimulate root growth. Do not over-water the tree or allow standing water, as this will promote disease.

Step 6

Place a rodent guard around the lower trunk of the tree after planting. Insert the guard 4 inches into the ground and to a height of 15 inches.

Step 7

Apply a 12-12-12 tree fertilizer at half strength one month planting. Fertilize the tree each spring with the same fertilizer at full strength.

Step 8

Apply a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch in a 12-inch diameter around the tree to prevent weed growth and assist with moisture retention.

Step 9

Prune lateral branches that grow in the lower 18 inches of the trunk after 1-2 years of growth. Prune to remove all limbs with narrow joint angles that are less than 45 degrees.

Things You'll Need

  • Apple tree
  • Shovel
  • Tree pruner
  • Water
  • Drip irrigation system
  • Rodent guard
  • 12-12-12 fertilizer
  • Mulch


  • Ohio State University: Growing Apples in the Home Orchard
  • University of Missouri Extension: Home Fruit Production
Keywords: growing apples in Iowa, growing apples in the midwest, planting apple trees

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.