Apples are a popular orchard fruit, and apple trees are easy to grow. Apple trees come in a large and small sizes, so there is a tree for every garden. There are also many varieties, from cookers to eaters, that fruit early, mid and late in the season.
Apple tree varieties – there are a wide selection of cooking apple and eating apple varieties. Bramley apple trees are some of the most prized of the cookers. Braeburn and Gala are some of the most consumed apple varieties in the UK.
Pollination – apple trees do not usually self-pollinate, so if you have enough space in your garden then it is beneficial to plant two trees from the same pollination group. They blossom at the same time, allowing the transferation of pollen to take place.
If you do not have enough room to plant two apple trees, then the good news is that most apple trees can easily be pollinated by other apple trees in the area, with the help of flying insects like bees.
Apple rootstocks – apple trees come in a variety of rootstocks, meaning that the tree (scion) is grafted onto the roots (stock) of another plant. Rootstocks determine how big the tree will grow.
This help to find the right sized tree for the space you have. If you need a small apple tree, then go for the appropriate size rootstock, which should be listed on the plant label.
Planting – apple trees are often sold as bare rooted, root-balled or in large planters. It is recommended that you plant apple trees during autumn or early spring, when there is frost free weather, so the tree can get its roots established for the growing season ahead.
They prefer a sheltered, sunny position and will thrive in most types of soil. When planting an apple tree, you must dig a hole that is big enough to allow the roots to spread and grow comfortably. The join where the stock has been grafted onto the scion should be no less than 4 inches/10cm above the level of the soil. Once in position, back fill with soil and support with a tree stake.
Caring for apple trees – it is important to keep the newly planted apple tree well watered during the first growing season, and apply a mulch during spring to help retain the moisture in the soil.
The tree will need to be pruned to encourage the formation of strong branches, and there are a variety of shapes, such as bush tree, dwarf pyramids, cordons and espaliers, that you can choose, depending on the size of your garden and the position of the tree.
Once established, your apple tree will reward you with a bounty of delicious, fresh apples for many years to come.
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