Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Plant Macintosh Apple Trees

By Kelly Shetsky ; Updated September 21, 2017

McIntosh apple trees are grown in many parts of the country. They do best in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 7. If you started at Virginia and drew a line east to west, you can plant McIntosh in all areas north of that line. This apple variety is very popular because the trees are hardy and productive. The fruit is known for making yummy applesauce. McIntosh apples have a thin, red peel and white flesh, streaked with pink. They ripen in September.

Buy a healthy McIntosh apple tree from a nursery. Choose one that is 1 year old and between 4 and 6 feet tall. Check the roots to make sure that they are healthy. Snip off any damaged roots with sharp pruning shears.

Soak the roots in water if they've dried out since purchasing the tree. Keep them in water for 24 hours.

Dig a hole that is twice the diameter of the apple tree and 2 feet deep. Use the nursery container as a judge when determining exact size. Use the sharp edge of the shovel to loosen the dirt on the bottom and sides of the hole, to give the roots an easier time spreading.

Set the McIntosh apple tree in the hole and make sure that it sits at least 2 inches above the surrounding ground. You don't want the graft under the soil because it may form another set of roots.

Add soil to the bottom of the hole if you need to boost up the tree in height. Pack it down and place the tree back on top of it.

Spread the roots out to encourage growth. Fill the hole with 2/3 of the removed soil. Press it down to eliminate air pockets. Water the tree then fill in the rest of the soil. Tamp it down once the hole is full.

Lay down a layer of mulch to protect the tree from weeds and help retain moisture. Put the mulch down in a 3-foot circle, starting about 6 inches from the McIntosh apple tree trunk and working your way out from there.

Put gravel in the 6-inch mulch-free zone to keep rodents away from the McIntosh apple tree.


Things You Will Need

  • Tree
  • Pruning shears
  • Water
  • Shovel
  • Mulch
  • Gravel


  • Always protect new McIntosh trees from drying out, overheating, freezing or injury before planting.


  • Never fertilize McIntosh apple trees when you plant them because you can burn the roots.

About the Author


Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.