How to Take Care of Apple Trees

Overview

Apple trees add beauty to the home landscape with the bonus of a fruit harvest. Before planting an apple tree, consider which apple tree varieties grow best in your geographical area and how much space is available for a mature tree. Dwarf rootstocks are available that result in smaller trees, approximately 5 to 8 feet tall. Semi-dwarf varieties will grow up to 16 feet tall, and a full-size tree can grow to be 20 to 30 feet tall. Climate is also important, and tree varieties should be selected according to the USDA hardiness zone where they will grow.

Step 1

Test you soil every two to three years to determine the right fertilizer for your soil. Broadcast the recommended fertilizer under the tree in early spring and again in April, May and June.

Step 2

Water young apple trees weekly, providing about 1 inch of water per week. Mature trees only need extra water during dry periods. Do not allow the tree to go more than three weeks without water.

Step 3

Remove weeds beneath young trees. Use a hoe to keep the soil surface directly beneath the tree weed free. Be careful whenever using chemical weed control agents around fruiting trees.

Step 4

Prune apple trees during the dormant season to open the tree up to light and control the size and shape. Prune away damaged and diseased limbs. Remove upward growing sprouts that crowd the interior and block light to the interior of the tree. Remove branches that grow in the wrong direction, leaving those that grow slightly upward. Remove suckers arising from the base of the tree or the roots.

Step 5

Spray apple trees with dormant oil in the early spring when temperatures are above freezing, but before the buds open. Dormant oil will help control scale and insects.

Step 6

Watch for apple scab and insects that attack the fruit. Consult your local extension agent for acceptable ways to control diseases and pests in your area.

Step 7

Remove excess fruit from the tree to control the size of the crop. Excess fruit will overburden the tree and result in small unsatisfactory fruit. Leave one apple per cluster, spacing the clusters about 6 inches apart.

Step 8

Harvest apples when the fruit is ripe. Pull the apple up and out, twisting the apple slightly to remove it from the tree without damaging the fruit. Leaving a small piece of stem attached will increase apple storage time.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand saw or loppers
  • Hoe
  • Dormant oil spray
  • Fertilizer

References

  • UNL Extension: Apple Tree Care
  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: Home Fruit Production- Apples
  • Ohio State University Fact Sheet: Growing Apples in the Home Orchard
Keywords: care of apple tree, pruning apple tree, harvest apple tree

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.