Read our apple tree care guide for information on how to prune, plant and feed your tree. Learn how to look after apple trees with Tree2mydoor.
Apple Tree Quick Facts:
- Latin name: Malus Domestica
- Hardiness: Fully hardy. Suitable for growing across the UK and Ireland
- Pollination: Variable. Dependant on variety.
- Height and spread: Variable. Dependant on rootstock.
- Flowering: Spring
- Harvesting: Autumn
- Difficulty: Easy
Apple trees are a brilliant choice of fruit tree for almost everyone, from the first time grower to the most experienced producer. They are extremely well suited to growing in our climate; the UK produces some of the most complex and flavourful apples on the market!
We have carefully selected our apple trees based on a whole host of variables, and are really proud of our selection. From eating to cooking, old favourites to exciting new varieties and however big your garden, we have the tree for you!
Apple Tree Rootstock
The rootstock that your tree has been grafted onto will control the eventual height of your apple tree and dictate where it can be planted. So knowing the rootstock in advance will help you to choose the right size of tree for your garden. Our apple trees come in three sizes, and the individual rootstocks for every variety can be found on the product page on our website.
M27 is an extremely dwarfing rootstock, which will produce an apple tree that grows to a maximum height of 1.8m/6ft that is suitable for growing in a pot or planting in the ground.
If your tree is on M9 rootstock, it is a dwarfing variety that will grow to a maximum of 2-2.5m/6.5-8ft and is suitable for pot growing or planting in the ground. Please note that pot growing will limit the growth of the tree, and it may not reach its full height.
M26 is a semi-dwarfing rootstock and trees on this rootstock can grow to around 3m/9-10ft. These trees are only suitable for planting in the ground, and cannot be pot grown.
How to care for Apple Trees
Planting Your Apple Tree
On receiving your tree, it is important that you remove it from the outer packaging immediately and store it in a suitable place until you are ready to plant - in winter, this may be a shed or garage to prevent frost damage. We advise that you plant your tree in winter when the tree is dormant and the roots are not growing. Either September/October or late February/March as the ground can become frozen solid in intervening months.
If your tree is being planted in your garden, try and choose somewhere that gets plenty of sunshine but is sheltered from strong wind and frost; all fruit trees need sunshine to ripen their fruit. Your tree will do best if planted into deep, well-draining, loamy soil.
An hour before planting your tree, water the pot thoroughly. Remove the tree from its container and gently tease out the roots. Prune any that are damaged or broken. Dig a hole roughly three times the width of the tree's roots, but no deeper. Then plant the tree with the bud union at ground level. Backfill any gaps with the soil mix you removed earlier but do not pack the soil too tightly around the new apple tree.
Repotting your Apple Tree
If you are planning to grow your tree in a pot, it will require repotting into a larger container in the first 12 months, then every two-three years until it reaches its full height. Look out for the following signs that your apple tree is ready for a new home:
- does your tree look less healthy than it used to?
- does it seem to dry out quicker?
- are there roots growing out of the holes in the bottom of the pots?
- has the apple tree been in the same pot for three years or more?
Remember to always choose deep pots with drainage holes. Try to repot in the winter months to minimise the risk of damaging the roots.
Tips for Repotting your Apple Tree
- the soil in the apple tree pot should be slightly moist; water thoroughly an hour before repotting to achieve this
- loosen the soil around the edge of the pot and pull the tree out by the base of the main stem
- if you are moving your tree to a bigger pot, add some extra soil into the bottom of the pot before you insert the plant
- fill in with a mix of soil and compost.
- water the plant thoroughly, and keep it well watered for several weeks
Once the tree is fully grown, it will be too big for repotting, but you will still need to replace 30-50% of the compost every other year, so the tree does not exhaust its supply of nutrients.
Feeding your Apple Tree
Feeding your apple tree will help it to gain all the nutrients it needs to fruit. Late winter is an ideal time, and we would advise using a granular rose fertiliser according to packet instructions, as these are potassium-rich.
Mulching your Apple Tree
Mulching is the term used for the layer of organic material that is placed on top of the soil around your plants every year. It has a whole host of benefits, including keeping the soil moist and nutrient-rich throughout summer and discouraging weeds. The best time to do this is in late Spring (April-May) or Autumn (October).
First, prepare the ground by removing debris and weeds and water the surface of the soil if it is dry, Apply a thin layer of well-rotted manure or good garden compost all around the tree - we suggest using John Innes No. 3.
Watering your Apple Tree
We advise you to water your tree regularly until the plant is established. Once this point is passed, the plant will only require watering through spring and summer. Water around once a week, and more frequently in very hot weather. Make sure you always water the roots and avoid getting water on the leaves of the plant, as this encourages disease and leaf scorch.
When fruit trees are grown in containers, they will have more restricted access to water than those growing in the garden. so will need watering with greater regularity. As a rule of thumb stick your finger into the first inch of topsoil and if it feels medium dry, water immediately.
Pruning your Apple Tree
Most apple trees grown in gardens are left to grow in quite a natural bush shape and are very easy to train. The best time to prune your tree is in winter when the tree is dormant.
First, remove any branches that are growing towards the centre of the tree instead of pointing outwards, as these will not get enough sunlight to produce fruit.
Then remove any branches that are dead, diseased or dying.
Lastly, cut back all but the main branches and leave six or so buds on each stem. Once your tree has reached its full height or a height you are happy with, you can also cut the main branches back by about a third, which will ensure your tree doesn't grow much taller.
Apple Tree Fruit and Flowers
Your apple tree should break out into beautiful blossom in spring, and after a couple of years, fruit should appear in summer. At this point, it might be an idea to invest in a fruit cage or fruit netting to deter birds. The fruit should be ripe by September/October and is ready for picking.
Apple Tree Winter Care
Your tree will go into dormancy over winter and lose all its leaves - this is normal! If your tree is still in its pot you can move it into the greenhouse or conservatory (basically somewhere sheltered) when the temperatures begin to drop to protect it from extreme temperatures and frosts.
If your tree flowers before the last of the spring frosts, you may need to wrap it in horticultural fleece on frosty nights, to prevent the delicate flowers being damage.