Close-up of red apple trees on branch
Advice + Info - Plant Nursery

Everything You Need to Know: Apple Trees

Two apple trees fruiting with green grass

We’ve seen an interest in buying and growing apple trees really take off in recent times, which delights us to no end. Is there anything better than picking fruit fresh off the tree? We’re not sure there is! If you thought apple tree growing was only for those with an orchard-size garden, think again. Dwarf trees are available, and they can produce a deceptively good volume of harvest. So, if growing your own takes your fancy, here’s everything you need to know

Buy two, not one 

We’re not trying to cleverly upsell here, but if you want your tree to bare produce then you ideally need two, because most apples require pollen from another tree in order to fruit. 

What are the best apple varieties to grow in Northern Ireland? 

Along with these, other varieties that appreciate the Northern Irish climate and conditions include: 

When is the best time to plant them? 

Aim for late autumn and early spring as the ideal times to plant these trees. 

Close-up of red apple trees on branch

Where is the best place to plant them, and how? 

You want to give them a really sunny spot so they can enjoy at least six hours of exposure a day

Find a spot with well-drained, light to medium textured soil  

Avoid any areas you know experience frost

Allow anywhere from 15 to 18 feet apart for seedlings or full-size trees, and four – eight feet for dwarfing rootstock 

Aim for a two-foot hole that is double the diameter of the roots. Once dug, place some of the loose soil back in so as to make it easy for the roots to do their job 

Given the roots plenty of space amongst one another 

When filling in the whole, pad it regularly to remove air pockets 

Don’t fertilise at this point in time so as to avoid burning the roots 

Close-up of secateurs pruning apple branch

How to care for apple trees

The good news is that, for the most part, apples are one of the least difficult fruit trees to grow. 

  • Keep them well irrigated 
  • Refresh mulch and be sure to keep it away from the trunk during cold weather so as to avoid rodents nesting and eating the bark 
  • In early spring, give them a feed of fertilizer around the base of the trunk 
  • You should prune every year when the tree is dormant, so between the leaves falling and buds bursting 

Pest control 

Apple trees will need pest management, so purchasing them comes with a certain level of commitment. However, the moment you crunch on your first tasty one, you of course realise it’s more than worth your while! 

Apple scab

Caused by a fungi, this condition only affects the skin. Although it’s not visually pleasing, it doesn’t affect the eating quality of the apple. To mitigate this, prune out the affected areas and be sure to burn the leaves impacted so as to minimise spread. 

Apple sawfly

This is caused by the sawfly laying eggs in the tree’s blossom. The larvae hatch and leave scarring on the skin. To mitigate this, remove the damaged fruitlets. 

Brown rot 

This fungal disease literally spreads rot and presents as browning of the skin, or even pustules of fungi. To mitigate this, immediately remove and destroy any fruit you can see is impacted. 

Bitter pit 

Presenting as sunken holes on the surface of the fruit as well as discolouration, this problem is the result of growing conditions such as erratic watering or a lack of calcium in the soil, rather than any pests or bugs. The fruit is, however, still edible. To mitigate this, refer to our earlier section on how to care for the tree. 

Close-up of white apple blossom

When do the trees blossom? 

In spring and usually late May, although this can happen as early as April. 

How long does it take an apple tree to bear fruit? 

This all comes down to the root stock, and can be anywhere from two to even seven years after planting. 

For how long will the average tree last? 

Although an apple tree is unlikely to fruit after about 50 years of age, it could live to more than double that length of time if well cared for. 

Buy your apple trees today!

Inspired to grow your own? Visit our nursery for the best apple tree deals available.

Back garden with swing-chair and apple trees

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