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How to Maintain Apple Trees

By Charmayne Smith ; Updated September 21, 2017

The apple tree is a deciduous, fruit bearing tree. The powerful blooms and edible fruit make it a common tree selection for many homeowners. Though the tree provides pleasant benefits, this fastidious tree requires a certain degree of attention and care.

Irrigate your apple tree properly to promote a healthy tree and fruit production. Apple trees that have ample amounts of sunshine and water produce sweeter, bigger apples. Water your tree weekly. Increase the tree’s water intake during the dry, hot summer months.

Fertilize your tree regularly but adjust for the tree’s age and fruit production. Newly planted apple trees will benefit from a fertilizer application. Use a balanced combination fertilizer for the first application. The fertilizer should contain a nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. Apply the first application one month after planting. Subsequent applications should be applied monthly during the spring months and continue on through mid summer, from March through June; use a nitrogen fertilizer. Broadcast the fertilizer evenly around the tree. Avoid placing the fertilizer directly onto the trunk or roots of the tree to prevent root burn.

Keep the area surrounding your apple tree weed free. Apple trees are not very competitive trees and can quickly lose their nutrients and moisture from surrounding growers. Remove weeds and crabgrass immediately from the area. In most cases, simply pulling the weeds from the ground will suffice. Make sure that the weed is pulled from the root and discarded. If the weeds continue to grow and become competitive, treat the weeds with a herbicide spray. Speak with your horticultural specialist for selection assistance.

Prune your young apple tree regularly to develop its shape. The winter months are the ideal time to prune an apple tree. It is important that the apple tree have a strong, upright central leader. This leading branch will determine the tree’s growing direction and stability. If the central leader is growing in a wild direction, other than straight up, trim it back to its straightest point. Remove unwanted, dying or broken branches from the tree. Trim back branches to develop the primary and secondary scaffolds.

Inspect your apple tree for disease and insect infestations. Check the tree’s trunk, branches, stems and fruit for signs of attack. Look for signs of insects, scabs, cankers, mildew, leaf curl and other symptoms that show adverse health. If you find signs of fungus attack or other disease, treat the apple tree immediately with the appropriate fungicide spray or treatment. Seek assistance from a nursery specialist to identify the disease and required treatment. Insect infestations should also be treated immediately. Address the infestation with an insecticide treatment. Remove any old or decaying fruit from around the base of the tree. This will reduce additional attacks.


Things You Will Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Tree saw

About the Author


Writing professionally since 2004, Charmayne Smith focuses on corporate materials such as training manuals, business plans, grant applications and technical manuals. Smith's articles have appeared in the "Houston Chronicle" and on various websites, drawing on her extensive experience in corporate management and property/casualty insurance.