The apple tree may be one of the oldest cultivated fruit trees, dating back thousands years and referenced throughout ancient history and Greek mythology. Today there are more than 7,500 different known cultivars of apple trees, and 55 million tons of apples are grown annually for consumption.
This tree is eligible for a $50 Tree Rebate as long as it is not a dwarf tree or sapling.
The apple tree leaves are deciduous, alternately, simple ovals 5-12 cm long and 3 -6 cm wide. The leaf has an acute tip, serrated edges and a slightly fuzzy underside.
Apple trees have white flowers with a pink tinge that bloom in late spring. The flowers resemble tiny roses, with five petals. Most apples require cross pollination, meaning they need two different types of apples to pollinate. Check with the nursery to figure out which apples pollinate with each other.
Apples come in many different varieties, but are usually medium-sized fruit, with either green, yellow, or red colors. Most apple fruits are firm and crisp, with either a sweet or tart taste.
Apple trees can be dense with twig and branch growth and must be pruned and thinned to prevent limb breakage.
The bark of the apple tree is grey, broken and scaly.
Apples are very versatile when it comes to size and shape. They can be trained to be espalier, columnar, cone-shaped with a central leader, or vase-shaped with no central leader.
Depending on the variety of the apple cultivar, apple trees can reach 10-40 feet tall.
Turkey is thought to be the original home of the apple tree, but there are native varieties throughout Asia and Europe. Apples were introduced to North America in the 1600s and since have grown abundant. Depending on the variety, apples trees thrive in hardy zones 4-8.
The leaf colors change from green to gold/yellow, then to brown during the fall.
Apple trees can tolerate a lot of different soils, but will need high levels of nutrients, a neutrally balanced pH level, and good drainage.
Apple trees require full sunlight.
Some good cultivars are Eddie April, Enterprise, Liberty and Arkansas Black. When buying dwarf trees, buy them only from a credible nursery. It’s important to use the right rootstocks for dwarf trees to ensure survival. Edible landscaping offers a variety of different rootstocks that work well with dwarf apple trees.
Apple trees harvest at different times through the year. Observe the fruit’s colors–as they change, the fruit is maturing. Apples can be picked ripe from the tree.
Apple trees can be susceptible to early frost damage. When planting apple trees choose high locations rather than low-lying areas that create “frost pockets.” If a late frost is predicted after the apple has blossomed, wrap the tree in a breathable fabric, like burlap, to protect the blossoms, until the frost passes. To prevent limb breakage, thin the apple fruit when they are the size of dimes. Space them out 4-6 inches apart and one per cluster.
Apple trees are susceptible to a lot of diseases and pest damage. Establishing good sanitation practices is an important defense against pests and diseases. Prune out all dead or diseased wood, remove dried apples, and clear leaves and fallen debris from the trees. Clean your pruning tools with alcohol between each diseased cut. A regular application of Surround organic spray, starting in spring as the petals fall, and continuing throughout the growing season, is the best organic defense against pests and diseases. Mix Surround with lime-sulfur to suppress powdery mildew, apple scab, sooty blotch and fly speck. Lime-sulfur is also an excellent dormant spray to kill overwintering scale, insects eggs, and mites. Surround also prevents sunburn damage on apples, which is a problem in the DC area.
A more labor intensive alternative to Surround is to wrap each fruit in a plastic bag when they are first emerging. At the first sign of green tissue fungus, spray a fungicide premix solution until the fungus goes away. Apples grow on long-lived stubby twigs, called “spurs.” After several years the spurs will produce too many twigs with buds, creating a poorer crop. It’s important to prune these spurs down to 4-5 twigs per spur.