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How to Grow & Prune Gravenstein Apple Trees

By Annita Lawson ; Updated September 21, 2017

The fruit of the Gravenstein apple tree is delicious whether eaten fresh, preserved or made into pies or applesauce. The tree grows from 10 to 30 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet wide. In spring it is covered in soft pinkish-white blooms. During fall the leaves change to vibrant shades of orange, red and yellow. Gravenstein apple trees do best in full sun and well-drained soil. They require regular pruning in order to look their best and produce the maximum amount of fruit.

Pull all grass and weeds from the planting site. Dig a hole that is double the width of the root ball and 2 feet deep. Replace one-third of the soil, and use your shovel to loosen the walls of the planting hole.

Place the tree into the planting hole, and spread the roots out as much as possible. Replace the remainder of the loosened soil, and use your shoe to press it down. Water until the soil is well-saturated several inches deep.

Continue to water anytime the top inch of soil feels dry during the first growing season. After the roots are well-established the tree will only need supplemental watering during very dry weather.

Remove weeds and grass from around the tree regularly. Pull the weeds by hand or use an herbicide specifically labeled as safe for use around edible plants. Weeds and grass should be removed all the way out to the drip line, which is the tip of the farthest extending leaves.

Clip off dead or diseased branches as you notice them. Discard fallen apples and other debris from around the tree to discourage insect infestation and disease.

Fertilize Gravenstein apple trees with 1 lb. of 10-10-10 fertilizer during the first growing season. Increase the amount by 1 lb. for each year of growth, but do not exceed 6 lbs. of fertilizer.

Prune the tree in spring during its first growing season. Cut the main branch to 3 feet above soil level. Examine the tree after new shoots start to develop, and clip off all growth except the new branch that is the most upright.

Thin the tree periodically to allow for better air circulation and to maintain the desired size and shape. Remove some of the fruit when it is the size of a dime, leaving 4 to 6 inches between each developing apple. This prevents the branches from breaking under the weight of excessive fruit.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Herbicide
  • Lopping shears
  • 10-10-10 fertilizer

Tips

  • Soak the roots of the tree in water for 24 hours prior to planting if they look dry.
  • Plant Gravenstein apple trees in early spring or fall.
  • Make sure that the bud union is at least 2 inches above the top of the soil when planting.

Warning

  • Do not over-water, as roots that remain too moist can quickly rot.