How to Grow Apple Trees Indoors
Two major problems face the gardener who has decided to try growing an apple tree indoors. The first is the physical space required. A full-grown apple tree can easily reach 20 feet in height and diameter. Unless you have a very large indoor space, you will want to grow a dwarf variety. The second problem is lack of pollination, but if you just want the apple tree for aesthetic reasons—and not the fruit—this won't be a problem.
Purchase a dwarf apple tree sapling from a reputable nursery. Because dwarf apple trees are grafted as opposed to being bred, it is necessary to buy them already partially grown. Most nurseries will not sell these grafted dwarf trees until they are roughly a year old.
- Two major problems face the gardener who has decided to try growing an apple tree indoors.
- Because dwarf apple trees are grafted as opposed to being bred, it is necessary to buy them already partially grown.
Transplant the sapling into a tree-size planter. Make sure not to cut or damage the roots in the process. Fill in with potting soil.
Attach the trunk to growth guide stakes. These stakes will not only offer support for your dwarf apple tree sapling, they will also encourage growth in a direction of your choosing.
Test the pH level of the soil with a standard soil testing kit. Dwarf apple trees grow best in soil with a pH of around 6.5. The pH of the soil can be raised by adding lime to the mixture. To lower the pH level, try adding a sulfurous material such as gypsum or cottonseed meal.
- Transplant the sapling into a tree-size planter.
- Test the pH level of the soil with a standard soil testing kit.
Water the tree regularly. Because the indoor tree will not be able to benefit from rainfall or dew condensation, it is up to you to make sure it gets plenty of water. The soil should be kept damp to the touch but not soggy.
Plan to prune your mature apple trees in the late dormant season, generally February to April. Cut off all branches that cross or rub together. Spurs grow only about 1/2 inch per year, and their production lessens after one decade. Direct the growth of each young apple tree by bending its branches horizontally for several weeks. Continue to do this task throughout the year to prevent pest problems. Faster-growing apple trees probably don't need nitrogen; so when their new growth appears in early spring, supply each of them with 1 pound of sulfate of potash per every 5 bushels of apples you harvested the past year. Apply most fertilizers by sprinkling them evenly on the ground at the base of the tree trunks, and then water that ground well. The application method may differ among fertilizer brands. Spray the apple trees with an application of dormant oil before buds appear in spring. The wire cylinders protect against vole and mouse damage. Embed the bottom of each cylinder about 1 inch into the soil. Leave about 4 inches between fruits.
- Because the indoor tree will not be able to benefit from rainfall or dew condensation, it is up to you to make sure it gets plenty of water.
- Apply most fertilizers by sprinkling them evenly on the ground at the base of the tree trunks, and then water that ground well.
- Growing apple trees
- University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension: Care of Mature Backyard Apple Trees
- National Gardening Association: Food Gardening Guide -- Apple Tree Care
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension: Early Spring Care for Fruit Trees
- The Old Farmer's Almanac: Apples -- How to Grow Apple Trees
Lucinda Gunnin began writing in 1988 for the “Milford Times." Her work has appeared in “Illinois Issues” and dozens more newspapers, magazines and online outlets. Gunnin holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science from Adams State College and a Master of Arts in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.