Apple trees can grow to a height of 30 feet and a width of 15 feet with a growth of 8 to 12 feet per year. They require rich soil, moderate watering, good drainage and full sun. When planting, space trees according to their ultimate size. To prevent corrective pruning later on, frequent light pruning during the tree’s early years is required. It is recommended to prune mature trees to allow new growth and to permit sunlight to reach into the tree to discourage mildew. Scab is the most troublesome disease that affects apple trees. Fire blight, apple rust disease, black rot, and bitter rot can all be a problem as well as the following insect pests: aphids, red mite, flat-headed apple-tree borer, friot-tree bark beetle, codling moth, and apple maggots.Important Info : Do not plant in low areas where frost settles or where apple trees have previously been planted.
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Size: Height: 10 ft. to 30 ft.
Width: 10 ft. to 15 ft.
Plant Category: edibles, fruits, trees,
Plant Characteristics: spreading,
Foliage Characteristics: medium leaves, deciduous,
Flower Characteristics: single,
Flower Color: pinks,
Bloomtime Range: Mid Spring to Early Summer
USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 to 9
AHS Heat Zone: Not defined for this plant
Light Range: Full Sun to Full Sun
pH Range: 6.5 to 7
Soil Range: Some Sand to Clay Loam
Water Range: Normal to Normal
FertilizingHow-to : Fertilization for Established Plants
Established plants can benefit from fertilization. Take a visual inventory of your landscape. Trees need to be fertilized every few years. Shrubs and other plants in the landscape can be fertilized yearly. A soil test can determine existing nutrient levels in the soil. If one or more nutrients is low, a specific instead of an all-purpose fertilizer may be required. Fertilizers that are high in N, nitrogen, will promote green leafy growth. Excess nitrogen in the soil can cause excessive vegetative growth on plants at the expense of flower bud development. It is best to avoid fertilizing late in the growing season. Applications made at that time can force lush, vegetative growth that will not have a chance to harden off before the onset of cold weather.
LightConditions : Full Sun
Full Sun is defined as exposure to more than 6 hours of continuous, direct sun per day.
WateringProblems : Creating a Water Ring
A water ring, sometimes called a water well, is a mound of compacted soil that is built around the circumference of a planting hole once a plant has been installed. The water ring helps to direct water to the outer edges of a planting hole, encouraging new roots to grow outward, in search of moisture. The height of the mound of soil will vary from a couple of inches for 3 gallon shrubs, to almost a foot for balled and burlapped trees, especially those planted on a slope. Mulch over the ring will help to further conserve moisture and prevent deterioration of the ring itself. Once a plant is established, the water ring may be leveled, but you should continue to mulch beneath the plant.
Conditions : Normal Watering for Outdoor Plants
Normal watering means that soil should be kept evenly moist and watered regularly, as conditions require. Most plants like 1 inch of water a week during the growing season, but take care not to over water. The first two years after a plant is installed, regular watering is important for establishment. The first year is critical. It is better to water once a week and water deeply, than to water frequently for a few minutes.
PlantingHow-to : Pruning Trees After Planting
It is critical to prune trees correctly from the beginning to assure proper growth and development. Young trees can be transplanted in a number of forms: bare root, balled & burlap and in containers. The more stress the plant undergoes in the transplant process, the more pruning that is required to compensate.
Deciduous trees like maples (those that loose their leaves in the fall) can be dug up and sold with their bare roots exposed. Because most of the root system is lost in digging, sufficient top growth should be removed to compensate for this loss. This may be done at the nursery before you buy the plant or you may have to prune at the time of planting. Select and head back the best scaffold branches, i.e. those branches which will form the main lateral structure of the future mature tree. Remove all other extraneous side branches. If the tree seedling does not have branches, allow it to grow to the desired height of branching then pinch it back to stimulate the lower buds to form branches.
Ball and burlap trees are dug up with their root systems somewhat intact. This was mostly done for conifers and broadleaf evergreens, but has become common for deciduous trees as well. Since some root mass is lost in the digging stage, a light pruning is generally called for. Head back the plant to compensate for this loss and to promote branching.
Trees that are grown in containers generally do not loose roots in the transplanting phase. Therefore you do not generally have to prune them unless there is some root injury or limb damage in the planting process.
Once you have your trees planted, be patient. Do not remove shoots from the trunk early on as these allow the tree to grow more rapidly and also shade the tender young trunk from sun-scald. Wait a few years to begin training the tree to its ultimate form.
How-to : Staking Trees
Staking is done differently depending on the size and flexibility of the tree, and the windiness of the planting site. Generally only trees that are planted in windy, exposed locations need to be staked. For most trees, a low stake is preferred, to let the tree move naturally. For windy areas or flexible trees, use a high stake. For trees more than 12 feet tall, use two low stakes on opposite sides of the tree or several guy ropes. The ties used need to accommodate growth and not cause bark damage with friction. Buckle-and-spacer ties can be found at garden centers, they are expandable and have a protective spacer. Ties without spacers should be formed into a figure eight to create padding. Latest studies have shown that when staking a tree, provide enough leeway so that the tree can move back and forth in the wind. Stronger roots will develop this way. If the tree can not move back and forth, these important roots will not develop and the tree might fall over during a storm, once stakes are removed. When planting a tree, stake at the time of planting if staking is a necessity.
How-to : Planting a Tree
Dig out an area for the tree that is about 3 or 4 times the diameter of the container or rootball and the same depth as the container or rootball. Use a pitchfork or shovel to scarify the sides of the hole.
If container-grown, lay the tree on its side and remove the container. Loosen the roots around the edges without breaking up the root ball too much. Position tree in center of hole so that the best side faces forward. You are ready to begin filling in with soil.
If planting a balled and burlaped tree, position it in hole so that the best side faces forward. Untie or remove nails from burlap at top of ball and pull burlap back, so it does not stick out of hole when soil is replaced. Synthetic burlap should be removed as it will not decompose like natural burlap. Larger trees often come in wire baskets. Plant as you would a b&b plant, but cut as much of the wire away as possible without actually removing the basket. Chances are, you would do more damage to the rootball by removing the basket. Simply cut away wires to leave several large openings for roots.
Fill both holes with soil the same way. Never amend with less than half original soil. Recent studies show that if your soil is loose enough, you are better off adding little or no soil amendments.
Create a water ring around the outer edge of the hole. Not only will this conseve water, but will direct moisture to perimeter roots, encouraging outer growth. Once tree is established, water ring may be leveled. Studies show that mulched trees grow faster than those unmulched, so add a 3"" layer of pinestraw, compost, or pulverized bark over backfilled area. Remove any damaged limbs.
ProblemsPest : Maggots
Maggots live in the soil, chew the root hairs off of plants and love to tunnel through root crops such as onions, garlic and leeks. They are about 1/3 of an inch long, glossy white and blunt-headed. Adults are dark grey flies that resemble the common housefly.
Prevenion and Control: Floating row covers or cheesecloth set over seedbeds in early spring may deter egg laying on young plants. Crop rotation is a must. Always remove and destroy infected plants. Beneficial nemtodes will prey on maggots as well. Till soil well in the fall to expose and destroy pupae.
Pest : Aphids
Aphids are small, soft-bodied, slow-moving insects that suck fluids from plants. Aphids come in many colors, ranging from green to brown to black, and they may have wings. They attack a wide range of plant species causing stunting, deformed leaves and buds. They can transmit harmful plant viruses with their piercing/sucking mouthparts. Aphids, generally, are merely a nuisance, since it takes many of them to cause serious plant damage. However aphids do produce a sweet substance called honeydew (coveted by ants) which can lead to an unattractive black surface growth called sooty mold.
Aphids can increase quickly in numbers and each female can produce up to 250 live nymphs in the course of a month without mating. Aphids often appear when the environment changes - spring & fall. They're often massed at the tips of branches feeding on succulent tissue. Aphids are attracted to the color yellow and will often hitchhike on yellow clothing.
Prevention and Control: Keep weeds to an absolute minimum, especially around desirable plants. On edibles, wash off infected area of plant. Lady bugs and lacewings will feed on aphids in the garden. There are various products - organic and inorganic - that can be used to control aphids. Seek the recommendation of a professional and follow all label procedures to a tee.
Fungi : Rusts
Most rusts are host specific and overwinter on leaves, stems and spent flower debris. Rust often appears as small, bright orange, yellow, or brown pustules on the underside of leaves. If touched, it will leave a colored spot of spores on the finger. Caused by fungi and spread by splashing water or rain, rust is worse when weather is moist.
Prevention and Control: Plant resistant varieties and provide maximum air circulation. Clean up all debris, especially around plants that have had a problem. Do not water from overhead and water only during the day so that plants will have enough time to dry before night. Apply a fungicide labeled for rust on your plant.
Pest : Caterpillars
Caterpillars are the immature form of moths and butterflies. They are voracious feeders attacking a wide variety of plants. They can be highly destructive and are characterized as leaf feeders, stem borers, leaf rollers, cutworms and tent-formers.
Prevention and Control: keep weeds down, scout individual plants and remove caterpillars, apply labeled insecticides such as soaps and oils, take advantage of natural enemies such as parasitic wasps in the garden and use Bacillus thuringiensis (biological warfare) for some caterpillar species.
Diseases : Blight
Blights are cause by fungi or bacteria that kill plant tissue. Symptoms often show up as the rapid spotting or wilting of foliage. There are many different blights, specific to various plants, each requiring a varied method of control.
Diseases : Apple Scab
Apple Scab fungus thrives in cool, moist areas and overwinters in infected leaves that have fallen to the ground. In spring, spores infect new leaves, stems, flowers and fruit. If conditions are right (wet and 70 degrees), the fungus can infect the fruit around the bloom in just 6 hours, though visible signs may not be noticed for a couple of weeks.
Infection first appears as a dark green or black irregular patch on leaf surfaces. It is not uncommon for leaves to pucker and become discolored and eventually fall of the tree. Scab on fruit shows up as a brownish patch with a white halo. Older lesions will not have the halo.
Prevention and Control: Plant resistant varieties whenever possible. Remember, resistant does not mean immune. Keep trees properly pruned to promote good air circulation and always rake up and destroy fallen leaves. If you have a known problem from previous years, treat with an appropriate fungicide early on. Follow all directions on the label - make sure the fungicide you select is labelled for use on that plant to control apple scab It is too late to treat if you see scab on fruit and trees.
Fungi : Cedar Apple Rust
Cedar Apple Rust requires two alternate hosts each year: cedar or juniper type plants and apples, crabapples or hawthorn. Between spring and early summer, infected juniper or cedar leaves and stems may swell with greenish-brown galls. By fall, the galls have developed dimples. Though these do no immediate harm to the plant, by the following spring, when weather is wet and warm, the galls swell and develop jelly-like horn protrusions. Spores produced by these horns then infect apple trees. Wind carried spores are capable of infecting trees up to 4 miles away. On apples, cedar apple rust appears as rusty orange spots, having a ring-like appearance. Fruit drop is also common.
Prevention and Control Plant resistant varieties and eliminate hosts from the area. Chinese and Savin Junipers seem to be resistant as are apple varieties Freedom, Liberty, and Priscilla. Always rake-up and destroy diseased or damaged fruit and leaves. There are no chemicals available labeled for home gardener use.
MiscellaneousEdibles : Edible Landscape
An edible landscape is one in which all or most of the plants can be eaten or used for cooking in some way. If you are interested in edible gardening, it is highly recommended that you pratice organic methods in the garden. At the very least, do not use chemicals in the area of the garden where there are edibles. Be creative. Many edibles look great in containers, hanging baskets, or even as foundation plants.