Arizona is a state with a wide variety of climates, ranging from dry, arid deserts to cool mountainous regions. This means a variety of fruit trees may be grown there. Growing apple trees, however, can be somewhat challenging, as this tree requires a certain number of chill hours or time when the temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Arizona gardeners wishing to produce apples must pay special attention to their particular growing zones and climates.
Select a variety of apple tree that will grow well in Arizona. Choose from Anna, Summered, Jonagold, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji and Arkansas Black, to name a few.
Determine which Arizona climate zone you are in; this will vary widely throughout the state based upon elevation and terrain. Call a local extension office to verify your specific zone.
Purchase seedlings from a reputable nursery. Look for trees that have straight trunks and branches. Inspect leaves for signs of spots or scabs, as well as insect damage. Make sure the tree roots are well-soaked and wrapped in burlap cloth.
Plant apple trees from mid- to late January in zones 1 and 2. Plant in March if you are in climate zones 3 and 4. Do not plant apple trees if you are in Arizona climate zones 5 and 6, as these are mainly desert areas.
Unwrap the tree roots from the burlap covering. Trim excessively long or diseased roots from the seedling, using a pair of scissors. Place the tree in a 5-gallon bucket of water for 12 to 24 hours before planting.
Plant the apple tree where it will get at least six to eight hours of full sun daily. Make sure there are no overhead power lines or other trees within a 40- to 50-foot radius of the planting area. Add a 1- to 2-inch-thick layer of organic compost made from vegetable peelings, yard waste and newspapers to the area while the tree roots are soaking.
Dig a hole 4 to 6 feet wide and 3 feet deep, using a round-tipped shovel. Loosen the soil on the inside walls slightly, using the tip of the shovel's blade. Spread the roots of the apple tree fully. Place the tree into the hole so that the dark line on the trunk is at ground level.
Fill the hole with water, using a garden hose. Begin to fill the hole with dirt. Refill the hole with water when at least half of it has drained out. Continue placing dirt into the hole and filling with water until the hole is filled.
Place a 3- to 4-inch-thick layer of mulch such as tree bark, cypress mulch or leaves around the tree. Begin at the base of the tree and work outward until an area 4-feet in diameter has been covered.
Cut off the top of the tree to a height of about 3 feet, using a pair of pruning shears. Cut off any branches that are less than 18 inches from the ground.
Water the tree at least every other day, using a 5-gallon bucket. Add more mulch to the area around the apple tree as it decays.
Things You Will Need
- 5-gallon water bucket
- Organic compost
- Round-tipped shovel
- Garden hose
- Pruning shears
- Organic compost can be made at home several weeks before needed or purchased from a garden supply store. Shredded leaves may also be used.