Everything You Need to Know About Apple Trees
One of the most extensively cultivated fruit trees around the globe, apple trees never fail to amaze us with their pleasing look and endless varieties! Planting an apple tree in your yard is a prudent decision since it is fun to grow, easy to maintain, and highly rewarding. To learn more about apple trees, check out the information below.
Apple Tree Blossoms
Apple trees belong to the family of roses; they bloom with pink-purplish flowers during Spring that turn white as the season progresses. Depending on its kind, an apple tree may bloom during early, mid or late Spring after it has met the required hours of cold during preceding winters. Apple tree blossoms are more driven by the prevailing temperature than by the time of the year. As apple trees are deciduous, they lose their leaves over the seasons but soon bloom back with colorful flowers and luscious fruit.
Apple varieties like Honeycrisp, Gala, and McIntosh show their floral attire during early Spring, whereas some other common varieties including Pink Lady may not blossom until Summer.
Size & Shape of Apple Trees
Apple trees make pretty ornamental trees for Spring and Summer when their branches are flushed with white-purplish wide-open flowers that are soon replaced with scarlet apples hanging in between broad green leaves.
A standard apple tree has a height of up to 40 feet with a 6 foot tall trunk and a spread of no less than 30 feet, if not pruned. However, as you would not want to dedicate your entire yard to a single tree, you can go for planting dwarf and semi-dwarf apple trees that have a height of 8 to 10 feet with a similarly wide crown.
Apple Tree Climate Requirements
Apple trees are well known for their outstanding resilience - these trees grow well in temperate regions but can also yield fruit at lower temperatures. These hardy trees can withstand most of the tough climate conditions including sharp winds and extremely cold temperatures.
All varieties of apple trees require a certain number of cold hours during Winter (at a temperature ranging between 0 - 7° C). Depending upon the cultivar and variety, the said number of cold hours may lie anywhere between 500 - 1000 hours, after which an apple tree is all set to bloom with delicate flowers and luscious fruit during Spring.
When Can I Expect Fruit from an Apple Tree?
An average apple tree begins fruiting by the 7th to 10th year of its age (earlier in the case of dwarf trees). However, once it starts fruiting, an apple tree continues fruiting for up to 50 years. A good crop of home-grown apple trees yields anywhere between 80 – 160 apples per season.
Furthermore, commercially cultivated mature apple trees with efficient pollination, fertilization, protection, and irrigation, are expected to yield up to 800 apples per year!
Apple Tree Cross-Pollination
Most apple trees are devoid of self-pollination, and even those, which are self-sterile would need a fellow tree to cross-pollinate before they begin producing fruits. That being said, if you can't spot an apple tree within a radius of 50 to 80 feet from your yard, you need to plant at least two or more varieties of apple trees in your yard for them to cross-pollinate and bear fruit. Having multiple varieties of apple trees planted can significantly enhance the fruit crop your apple tree yields.
How Long Does an Apple Tree Live?
A healthy and well-nurtured apple tree is expected to live up to 50 to 80 years. While it is rare to find an apple tree bearing fruit after its 50th year of age, there are pretty good chances to increase the otherwise life expectancy of your apple tree beyond 80 years. Many apple trees reportedly have had a striking age of hundred years or more!
Why are Apple Trees so Unique?
Going apple-picking with your family is a fun activity, particularly when the apple tree stands high in your backyard. What makes an apple tree unique is its grace, resilience, endless varieties, and prolific activity throughout the year.
During Winter, apple trees rest with latent buds having leaves and small flowers surrounding their branches. As the weather gets warmer, these buds begin to unfurl, and flowers emerge on the tips of these branches. These flowers having plentiful nectar and a sweet scent are often the spring fantasy of honeybees and other wild insects.
Apples grow and change colors (from bumblebee yellow to striking red) during Summer, and with the incoming of fall, these are finally ready to be plucked off. Apple trees are one of the oldest fruiting trees and have a huge variety of apples to offer – most of these are particularly bred for taste. You might prefer the sweet taste of Honeycrisp apples or love the tart flavor of Granny Smith apples. In either case, you can have your favorite variety of apples grown right in your yard with sheer ease.
Where to Plant an Apple Tree?
You do not need own acres of land to grow apples. In fact, you can plant an apple tree or dwarf apple trees within a compact space. While considering the right site to plant an apple tree in your yard, bear the following tips in mind.
- Apple trees produce the best fruit when provided with full sunlight (i.e. at least six hours or more of direct sunlight)
- These trees require a well-drained soil capable of locking in some moisture with a medium texture. Planting them in clay or poorly drained soils can lead them to root rot diseases. The ideal soil pH to look for when planting apple trees is 6.0 – 7.0
- Apple trees require a location with an effective air circulation - this also helps in quick drying of leaves after rainfall or irrigation exercises, preventing any fungal infections among leaves
- It is advisable to plant these trees in the North of your house, hedge, or tree line to prevent any wind damage. Make sure not to plant them in frost packets where cold air is to settle down, but on a slanting site so that the cold currents of air pass down the trees
- Plant full-sized apple trees at a moderate distance of 15 to 18 feet apart and dwarf trees at a distance of 8 to 10 feet apart
Interesting Facts About Apple Trees!
- History suggests that the cultivation of apple trees goes back to the 3rd Century B.C.
- Apple trees around the world offer more than 8000 varieties of apples, each having a unique taste, color, and size
- In addition to apples, you can munch on apple tree flowers, too, as they are edible, sweet, and rich in minerals and anti-oxidants - however, these are not to be consumed in larger proportions as they may contain cyanide
- Apple Tree blossoms can be great for you but poisonous for your kitties. If you have got an apple tree in your yard, make sure to keep an eye on where your cat is playing
- Apple trees can be grown from a seed or by grafting. Grafted trees tend to yield fruit much quicker, sometimes the very next year after planting a tree