Apple trees are fun and exciting to have. Just as with any tree, care and pruning is necessary to maintain the health of the tree. This way the trees will continually produce healthy vibrant apples.
Here are some tips for apple tree care and pruning.
- Basic Care and Maintenance: An apple tree likes sun and needs good drainage for proper growth and production. It will also need a good, rich soil. A nutrient supplement or balanced fertilizer can be added for the first years to help maintain the healthy growth of the tree. Apple trees need a dormant period to produce better and more fruit. Toward the end of the dormant period, during the last month of winter or early spring, an oil called dormant oil can be applied. Dormant oil helps the apple tree produce healthier fruit.Once the fruit sets, make sure you thin out the fruit that is on each branch. Typically, one or two fruits per branch is sufficient. This allows the fruit to mature quicker and healthier. Caring for the trees may seem like a lot of work, but you'll get better fruit if you follow these steps.
- When and How to Prune Apple Trees: Pruning will be necessary at some point in the apple tree's life. When the tree has grown some, or if you are maintaining an apple tree that has already been established, tree pruning can help create a healthier, more efficiently producing tree. Pruning is usually done in early spring, hopefully before the buds are forming. This gives less shock to the tree's system. Branches that touch other branches, including those of other trees, should be cut. Keep the tree as natural looking as possible for the healthiest and most productive apple tree.
- Cuts: You should make cuts as near as possible to the point where the branch grows from the tree. If you are pruning an extension of a branch, cut it nearest to the branch it is on. You do not want little stubs sticking out as that may cause smaller branches to continue growing on that branch. It can cause problems in the long run. Cut off smaller branches first, then work on bigger branches. Cut the smallest amount of branches that you can. Make sure cuts are clean, with no bark ripping. You should neither top the tree nor cut off all the branches but the very top. This is unnatural and can affect the production of the apple tree.
- Tools Needed: To plant, care for and prune your apple tree you will need the following tools.
- Shovel: The shovel will be used to plant the apple tree.
- Tree Lopper: This scissor-like tool is used to cut bigger branches, up to 2-1/2 inches around.
- Tree Saw: A tree saw is used for bigger branches that the tree lopper can't cut.
- Pruners: Pruners are much like tree loppers but they only cut smaller branches up to one inch in diameter. All these tools can be found at most home and garden stores in the gardening section. Ask the store employees for help if you need it for finding the right tools. The home and garden store may even have a tree pruning guide that you can use to help you prune and maintain your apple tree.Be sure to prune every year as necessary to keep up with the demand of the growing tree. Pruning and caring for your apple trees can increase the longevity of the trees and give you more productivity in the long run.
Now you know the basics of growing apple trees. Get out there and start planting!