Once planted, you should water your apple trees at least bimonthly for two months. It is also important to have adequate spacing between each tree, with 1.5m, 3m and 3.5 - 4m spacing between M27, M26 and MM106 trees (respectively).
Bare root and containerised trees have differing planting requirements, detailed below:
- Watering: Bare root trees should have their roots soaked in water for up to 2 hours before planting, while with containerised trees, it is important to drench their root ball before planting.
- Pruning: Another difference is that for bare root trees, it is useful to prune their woody roots back a few inches. However, for containerised trees, you should free any spiralized roots growing around their rootball's circumference.
- Planting: With bare root trees, you should dig a hole to enable the graft point to be above the soil, while with containerised trees, the pot should sit no lower than an inch below the ground.
Bare root and containerised trees also share planting requirements, detailed below:
- With both, you should dig a hole that is twice the radius of their rootball. Stake your trees no more than 2 - 3 inches from the stem, and make sure that they are pointing away from the prevailing wind.
- Fill the planting hole with a mix of compost and garden soil, finishing with fertiliser and mycorrhizal fungi. Take care to not compress the soil.
- Once you are happy with your efforts, give your tree a generous watering.
- Add mulch on top (this can be bark and wood chippings, compost, manure, leaf-mould, and stones), and ensure that these do not touch the stem of the tree.
- Tie the stake to your tree (and leave space for growth), and place a rabbit guard around your tree to protect it from harmful pests.
- Apply fertiliser and replace decomposed mulch come spring. When autumn arrives, remove fallen leaves to prevent the risk of disease. You should also make sure that the ties are not rubbing your tree.
Fruit trees will only produce fruit if their flowers have been pollinated. This is usually done by pollinating insects, which transfer pollen from one flower to another. Honeybees, the main pollinating insect, will travel several miles in search of blossom, so if there is another apple or crabapple flowering in that radius your tree will produce fruit.
Some apple trees are self-fertile while others require a pollination partner from the same or neighbouring pollination group. Self-fertile varieties will produce fruit without a pollination partner, but benefit from a partner for heavier yields. Triploid trees can’t pollinate other trees, but can be pollinated by another. Crabapples will pollinate apples too.
Easy to grow, an apple tree will make a perfect first fruit tree. Your tree’s growth and output will likely be excellent providing you follow our planting and care instructions. Below we address some common query topics:
- Hardiness: Apple trees can be found growing in far colder regions than the UK, and therefore its mild winters will not affect your tree. One issue that can affect fruit trees is frost-damaged blossom, but this is rarely the case with apples that flower late.
- Position: In the UK, the greatest barrier to successful fruiting is a lack of sunlight, so be sure to plant your apple tree in full sun. Choosing a sheltered location will help prevent uprooting and allow your tree to leverage more resources into fruiting.
- Soil: Soil types can be an unwelcome confusion as many plants will adapt to their conditions. Nonetheless, less than ideal conditions will certainly limit your tree’s growth. Waterlogged soils will starve your tree of oxygen, which plays a key role in photosynthesis; causing its roots to rot and creating an optimal environment for disease.