Columnar trees for sale

Red Columnar Apple Tree

Solid Production and Amazing Taste in 1 Year

Why Red Columnar Apple Trees?
For starters, the tree grows arrow straight and has virtually no branches! That makes it the perfect choice for confined or tight areas. Not to mention its fast fruit production and strength: It’s been known to withstand summer temperatures of well over 100 degrees and still yield healthy and productive harvests with delicious fruit.
Basically, the Red Columnar offers the best of both worlds. You get sweet, healthy fruit for baking, snacking and more, all without the hassle. Unaffected by pests, disease or even excessive wind locations, the Red Columnar is defined by its successful growth and yields. Plus, its dwarf size means it fits in anywhere.

Why is Better.

Aside from its effortless care and amazing production, our Red Columnar Apple Tree is made unique by its unstoppable growth. And that’s because we’ve planted, monitored and nurtured it from day one. We’ve grafted and grown your Red Columnar from consistent, proven root stock, so you get the same great results season after season.

Imagine tasty, plump apples, right from your backyard, garden or patio. With the Red Columnar Apple Tree, it’s not only possible – it’s expected. Order your own Red Columnar Apple today!

Planting & Care

1. Planting: Full sun and well-drained soil are ideal for ensuring your Red Columnar thrives. So, select any area that receives approximately 6 hours of sunlight per day. Once you’ve selected a location, dig a hole that’s twice the width of the root ball and just as deep. Place your new tree, back fill the hole and then mulch to preserve moisture. Finally, water to settle the roots.
*Tip: Make sure your mulch is not touching the base of the trunk.

2. Watering: Your Red Columnar Apple will benefit from a regular watering each week. You may need to water more often in times of extreme heat or drought. However, if you’re not sure when to water, simply check the surrounding soil about 2 or 3 inches down. If the soil is dry here, it’s time to water.

3. Pruning: Once your tree has become established and is starting to bear fruit, it will need some periodic, moderate pruning. Only prune the tree during times of dormancy, making sure to remove any vigorous, upright stems and weak, damaged or dead branches.

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Urban Fruit Tree Info: Tips For Growing Columnar Fruit Trees

Also known as urban fruit trees, columnar fruit trees are basically trees that grow up instead of out, giving the trees a spire shape and a rather elegant appearance. Because the branches are short, the trees are well-suited to small gardens in urban or suburban environments. Read on to learn more about columnar fruit tree care.

Urban Fruit Tree Information

So exactly what are columnar fruit trees? Although growers are working to create a variety of columnar fruit trees, apple trees are currently the only type on the market. You can buy peach, cherry and plum trees that have an upright, narrow growth habit, but they aren’t true columnar trees.

Columnar fruit trees are usually 8 to 10 feet tall at maturity, compared to standard trees that reach heights of about 20 feet. Spread of columnar

apples trees is only about 2 to 3 feet.

Apples grown on columnar trees are normal size, but a columnar tree produces less fruit than a standard, dwarf or semi-dwarf tree. Although they tend to be expensive, columnar trees can produce fruit dependably for about 20 years.

How to Grow a Columnar Fruit Tree

Growing columnar fruit trees is fairly straightforward. Apple trees are suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 8, which means they tolerate all but very hot or very cold climates. Be sure you can provide a place in full sun and that you have adequate space.

Apples need pollen from a different type of apple tree to set fruit successfully, so you’ll need at least two trees of two separate varieties to provide cross-pollination. Plant the trees within 100 feet of one another so bees and other pollinators will visit both trees.

Columnar fruit trees grow well in the ground; allow at least 2 feet between each tree. You can plant these fruit trees in large containers too, such as whiskey barrels.

Columnar Fruit Tree Care

Water columnar apple trees regularly; the soil should be neither soggy nor bone dry. Feed the trees regularly, using either a balanced fertilizer applied throughout the growing season, or a time-release fertilizer applied once every year.

You may need to thin the trees the first year so the branches will support the weight of the apples. Otherwise, prune only as needed to remove damaged branches.

Columnar Fruit Trees

Minarette Fruit Trees

Minarettes are not Colonnade or Columnar Fruit trees, they as standard apple or pear trees that have been trained and vigorously pruned to attain a columnar effect. This is generally done with Apples, Pears and figs. It is possible to train stone fruits as minarettes but is a tad more problematic. The growth habit of stone fruits is not as well-suited to the steady consistent pruning that is needed to maintain the columnar effect. There are stone fruits, particularly Peaches bred as columnar, their spread however is not as compact as the apple varieties.

Cordon Fruit Trees

A cordon fruit tree, like a minarette is also not a columnar tree. It too has been vigorously pruned to concentrate fruit production along a central stem.

The difference between cordon and minarette is that the angle of the cordons branches match that of the stem. The branches grow vertically up along the central leader.

The quality of fruit grown on a cordon is generally superior to minarettes and some say to columnar. Sunlight more readily penetrates the canopy and side foliage of these trees which aids in the ripening process and allows the fruits to concentrate more natural sugars.

Both cordons and minarettes will revert to normal growth habits if pruning is not continued, they are high maintainence.

Dwarf apple tree

Before you buy and plant an apple tree consider the following:

■ Space to grow and form of the tree. How much space do you have? This will determine the form of the tree you choose.

■ Size of tree and type of rootstock. What size tree will fit the space? The ultimate size of an apple tree is determined by its rootstock.

■ Use of fruit: fresh eating or cooking. What kind of apple do you want? For fresh eating, cooking, or storing? Consider the cultivars and variety of apple you’d like to grow and eat.

■ Flowering time and harvest. When will the tree flower? This will determine pollination–apples require a second cultivar or variety to cross-pollinate–and harvest time.

Here is a review of each of these considerations:

Apple Tree Sizes

The space you have to grow an apple tree will determine the form of the tree. Here are apple tree forms and the space they require:

• Standard-size apple tree can grow to 40 feet tall if not pruned and have a spread of 30 to 40 feet. More commonly standard apple trees are pruned to a height of about 20 feet. The trunk will grow to about 6 feet tall. Plant standard apple trees 30 feet apart in rows 30 to 40 feet apart. A standard apple tree will bear fruit in 4 to 8 years and will live to about 60 years old. Standard apple trees are very hardy and are a good choice for planting in very cold winter regions. Standard-size apple trees are not commonly planted in home gardens or even most commercial orchards.

• Semi-dwarf or half-standard apple tree will grow to 15 to 20 feet tall if not pruned and will grow as wide. Semi-dwarf apple trees are commonly pruned to 12 to 15 feet tall and wide. The trunk will grow to about 4 feet tall. Semi-dwarf apple trees should be planted 12 to 15 feet apart in rows 15 to 20 feet apart. These trees can have a central leader (a single main shoot rising from the trunk) or several leaders–sometimes pruned to a cup shape. Semi-dwarf trees are very commonly grafted trees; a shoot (called scion) taken from an apple variety (which transmits the fruiting qualities of the variety) is grafted on to a particular rootstock (to provide vigor to the grafted scion) which determines the size of the tree. A semi-dwarf apple tree will bear fruit in 3 to 4 years and live to be about 60 years old. These trees often require a ladder to prune and harvest.

• Dwarf or bush apple will grow to 10 to 12 feet tall and as wide. Bush apple trees usually have trunks that are 2 to 3 feet high. Plant dwarf or bush apple trees 12 to 15 feet apart in rows 15 feet apart. These trees can have a central leader (a single main shoot rising from the trunk) or several leaders. Dwarf or bush apple trees can be grafted–an apple variety grafted onto a dwarfing rootstock (see explanation above)–or genetic dwarf, a naturally compact tree growing to about 7 feet tall or so. Bush trees are commonly planted at about two years old. They bear fruit quickly–at 3 to 4 years old. Bush apple trees grow close to the ground and are easily picked and pruned without a ladder. Dwarf trees are not as hardy as standard trees and grow best in mild-winter regions.

• Cordon apple tree is commonly a semi-dwarf or dwarf apple tree whose growth is trained to a single main stem or leader (called cordon) or multiple leaders (called double “U” cordon with two vertical leaders, or multiple cordons with three or four vertical leaders); the leaders are trained upright or oblique. Cordons are suited for small spaces as the tree is trained to a horizontal plane rather than allowed to form a bush or tree. Cordons produce fruit on short side shoots. Cordons must be pruned regularly during the growing season to keep their shape and size. The leaders on these trees are commonly trained at an angle of 45 degrees by being tied to two wires stretched at heights of about 2½ and 5 feet between posts rising 7 feet out of the ground and placed at 10-foot intervals. Cordon apple trees should be planted at a distance 1½ to 3 feet apart in rows 6 to 10 feet apart. Cordon trees are usually planted at about one year old.

• Espalier apple trees are trees trained with a central vertical trunk or leader and two or three tiers of horizontal branches or arms trained to radiate to the left and right of the central leader. Espaliers are commonly trained to horizontal wires stretched 24 inches apart. Espaliers, like cordons, are good for small spaces. Plant apple trees for espalier 12 to 15 feet apart in rows 8 to 10 feet apart. Espalier apple trees are usually planted when three to four years old.

• Dwarf pyramids, fans, or palmettes are apple trees trained to a small height on wires. These trees can be shaped as a pyramid or triangle, a fan–usually with two main leaders or ribs radiating from a short trunk with sub laterals forming a fan shape, or palmettes, a cross between an espalier and a fan with a central leader and arms radiating at angles rather than horizontally–shaped similar to an open palm. Similar to cordons or espaliers but smaller, these trees require less maintenance. Pyramids, fans, and palmettes commonly grow to about 5 feet tall on horizontal wires 18 inches and 3 feet above the ground. These forms can be planted 3 ½ to 5 feet apart in rows 7 to 10 feet apart. The plants are usually planted when 3 to 4 years old.

• Stepover is knee-high, single, horizontal cordon bent at right angles close to the ground. These low horizontal trees can be used in small gardens as decorative borders. Stepovers are trained just as cordons only lower.

• Columnar apple trees are single leader apple trees selected from a limited range of varieties suitable for columnar growth. The side spur branches are kept short. Columnar trees can grow to 8 feet tall and are often used for container growing in tightly limited space.

■ Size of tree and rootstock

Nearly all apple trees for gardens or orchards are grafted. The size of a grafted apple tree is determined by the tree’s rootstock. Rootstock–the root system of a grafted tree–controls a tree’s ultimate height. The growth of the scion or fruiting part of the tree is controlled by the rootstock, also called interstem. Some apple trees are genetically dwarf.

The most dwarfing rootstock is called M-27 (“M” stands for Malling in reference to the East Malling Research Station in England where the initial research on dwarfing rootstocks was done. “MM” stands for Malling-Merton, rootstock developed at Cornell University in the United States.)

Apple Rootstocks

• M-27: The most dwarfing rootstock produces a tree 3 to 5 feet tall. The first fruit will come in 2 to 3 years. M-27 requires rich, fertile soil. It is ideal for small garden and patio trees and the tree requires permanent staking.

• M-9: Dwarfing rootstock produces a tree 6 to 10 feet tall. The first crop will come in 3 to 4 years. M-9 produces a small garden tree that requires permanent staking.

• M-26: Semi-dwarfing rootstock produces a tree 8 to 12 feet tall. The first crop will come in 3 to 4 years. This tree will be heavier cropping with larger apples. M-26 establishes quickly in good, fertile soil and requires staking for the first 3 to 4 years.

• MM-106: Produces a tree 12 to 17 feet tall. M-106 is an all-purpose rootstock that grows well in most soils. The first crop will come in 4 to 5 years. The tree will require staking for the first 4 to 5 years.

• MM-111: Large tree producing rootstock. The tree will grow 17 to 21 feet tall and will take 6 to 7 years to produce its first crop. Trees on this rootstock will require a ladder for pruning and harvest and staking for the first 4 to 5 years.

• M-25: Produces a very large tree, 21 to 25 feet tall that can be difficult to prune and harvest. The first crop will be ready in 5 to 7 years. Stake these trees for the first 4 to 5 years.

Dessert and Culinary Apple Varieties

How you will use the fruit you harvest is an important question when choosing an apple tree. There are apples for eating fresh out of hand (dessert apples) and apples for cooking (culinary apples). There are apples that are sweet and others that are tart flavored. Some apples must be eaten within a few days of picking. Other apples can be stored for a month or two or more before eating–and actually improve in flavor with storage.

There are literally thousands of name apple varieties and cultivars. These lists are far from complete but name some of the most popular and readily available apple trees.

Apple Flowering and Harvest Times

Nearly all apples require pollination from a second cultivar or variety that flowers at the same time. Choose varieties that overlap their flowering time. That means very early and very late varieties are very likely to not cross-pollinate.

• Early to Midseason Varieties: Chehalis, Gravenstein, Jonamac, McIntosh, Paulared, Prima, Summer Rambo.

• Midseason Varieties: Buckley Giant, Crimson Beauty, Gala, Gordon, Holland, Hubbardston Nonesuch, Jonamac, Jonathan, Tropical Beauty, Twenty Ounce, Wealthy, White Winter Pearmain.

• Midseason to Late Varieties: Cortland, Cox Orange, Empire, Fameuse, Golden Delicious, Golden Russet, Jonagold, King, McIntosh, Priscilla, Spartan, Westfield Seek No Further, Winter Banana, Wolf River Yellow Newton.

• Extra-hardy Varieties for Cold Regions: Honeygold, Red Baron, Regent.

• Low-Chill Varieties for Warm Regions: Anna, Beverly Hills, Dorsett Golden, Ein Shemer, Gordon, Winter Banana, Winter Pearmain.

• Poor pollinators: These apples produce poor pollen and cannot pollinate other varieties: Jonagold, Spigold, Mutsu, Gravenstein, Winsesap, Stayman.

Planting Apple Trees

Apple trees can be planted in spring or fall. They are best planted while the plant is dormant. In very cold winter regions, plant apple trees in spring. In mild winter regions, plant apple trees in the fall.

Plant apple trees in well-drained soil in holes large enough to spread the roots out freely. The graft or bud union of standard, half-standard, and bush trees can be set below the ground level. Set the graft union of a dwarf or semi-dwarf tree higher than the ground level. This will ensure that the scion will not root and negate the rootstock.

The scion is the top part of a grafted tree. The scion is selected for the type of fruit it bears. The rootstock is the root system on which a scion is grafted or budded. The rootstock determines the ultimate size of a grafted tree. Rootstocks are selected for their vigor.

Also of interest:

How to Plant, Grow, Prune, and Harvest Apple Trees

Pruning Neglected Apple Trees

Frequently, the orchardist desires to renovate neglected, aging apple trees. Although the following description is the procedure for pruning trees in this condition, for several reasons it is generally more logical to remove the trees or to keep them for shade. First, the care of aged, high-topped apple trees is laborious and expensive. Second, the fruit quality is generally poorer on older trees than on young, well grown trees. Also, the trees may not be the desired varieties. Finally, many of the older varieties have a strong tendency to bear heavy crops only every other year.

Pruning the aging, high-topped apple tree is largely a job of renovation, followed by renewal of fruiting wood. The pruning must be moderate and spread over a two- or three-year period to avoid excessive growth and/or injury to large limbs from sudden over-exposure to sunlight. Such pruning consists of gradually lowering tree height to 18 feet or less, removal of surplus scaffold limbs, and the elimination of weak wood.

The first step in renovation is to remove all dead and broken branches and branch stubs. Once this job is accomplished, pause and look at the tree. The interior and outer portions of the tree will be filled with many small branches that either droop towards the ground or crowd one another. The tree is probably so dense, it is difficult to walk into its center without pushing aside branches. Now note that there are an excessive number of large branches arising from the trunk and main leader; six to eight main scaffold branches are sufficient.

Remove, by pruning at point of origin on the trunk or central leader, several of the large branches that cause crowding in the lower two-thirds of the tree. A chain saw may be used for this job. The tree now has been “opened up” considerably. This should allow improved light conditions during the growing season and make thorough spray applications possible. Probably the number of scaffold limbs is still excessive, but this condition can be gradually eliminated over the next year or two.

Removal of Weak Wood

The next step is pruning out drooping branches and much of the bushiness caused by the excessive number of smaller, secondary branches. Then “thin out” the remaining secondary branches by removing a third of them. This procedure further enhances penetration of sunlight and spray materials.

Lowering Tree Height

The next step in the renovation procedure is lowering tree height. To reduce height, remove tall, upright branches entirely, or cut them back to well-placed strong lateral branches that extend horizontally below the height of 18 feet. A chain saw again is handy because these cuts generally involve removing limbs 6 inches or more in diameter. If a tree has several of these tall branches, thin them out over a two- or three-year period.

Cut back branches in the upper tow-thirds of the tree to produce a pyramidal or “Christmas tree” shape.

Follow-up Pruning

Lowering tree height requires follow-up pruning year after year to take advantage of newly developing fruiting wood and to avoid a return to the previous problem shape. However, the lowering of tall trees introduces the annual nuisance of water sprouts which develop near the larger pruning wounds and on the trunks. Those arising on the trunk or in the inner two-thirds of the lower limbs are likely to be of no value and should be removed. Water sprouts will also arise in great abundance on the upper side of the limbs in the upper third of the tree the year following lowering of height. These should be thinned out to a distance of about 2 feet, leaving those that bend towards the outside of the tree, and heading back others to force lateral branching. The remaining water sprouts may develop fruiting wood the following season, but new water sprouts will appear and must be removed.

Written by: Paul Lopes

Revised: 08/2011

Ballerina®, Minarette®, and Cordon fruit trees

We are often asked about columnar fruit trees such as minarettes®, supercolumns and cordons, and ballerina® fruit trees.

Ballerina® apple trees

The key feature of Ballerina® apple trees is that they are not a trained form (like cordons or minarettes) but are a group of naturally columnar apple varieties.

There are several varieties of Ballerina apple trees but they are all descended from a common ancester – McIntosh Wijcik. Wijcik is a sport (natural mutation) of the well-known McIntosh apple variety (most commonly represented in the UK by one of its offspring, Spartan).

Ballerina trees all inherit this natural mutation, first seen in Wijcik, which causes them to grow as a single pole-like stem, with short or non-existent side branches. Ballarinas have the tightest columnar form of all the variations discussed here.

Ballerinas therefore have quite a striking ornamental effect in the garden. They are also fairly easy to maintain in the columnar shape because this is the natural way they grow.

The disadvantage is that the range of Ballerina trees is quite limited, we offer just 2-3 varieties, e.g. Flamenco. The original Wijcik variety also has a fairly lacklustre flavour, although the newer varieties have been crossed with mainstream apples and have better flavours. Even so Ballerina apple trees are perhaps best considered for their ornamental value as much as for fruit production.

Minarette® fruit trees and Supercolumn fruit trees

Minarettes® and Supercolumns are regular apple or pear varieties that have been closely-pruned in the nursery to achieve a columnar effect. Unlike Ballerina apple trees, they are not a specific variety but rather a style of pruning and training.

Minarette and Supercolumn fruit trees are also (and perhaps more correctly) known as vertical cordons.

Most (but not all) apple and pear varieties can be trained in this way, so the range of potential varieties is much wider than for Ballerinas, and includes dessert and culinary varieties. This also means that flavours and yields are potentially better than for Ballerina apple varieties.

Unlike Ballerinas, these trees require regular summer pruning to maintain their shape. If they are not regularly pruned they will eventually revert back to being normal fruit trees.

It is technically possible to train plums, cherries, nectarines, peaches or apricots as minarettes or supercolumns. However the growth and fruiting habit of these stone-fruits is not as well-suited to the regular pruning which is required to maintain the columnar form, and their natural vigour can also be an issue. Pruning is generally not advised for stone fruit because it provides an entry point for fungal infections which are a particular problem for these species. If you really want to try, then a disease-resistant plum grafted on VVA1 rootstock is probably the best option.

Minarettes and Supercolumns usually require a stake or some other support.

Cordon fruit trees

A cordon is any fruit tree which is closely pruned to concentrate fruiting along the main stem of the tree. Cordons may be planted either vertically (in which case they are sometimes known as minarettes or supercolumns) or at a slanting angle (in which case they may be known as oblique cordons).

Oblique cordons are generally more productive than minarettes or supercolumns because the slope of the stem mimics the angle of a branch on a regular fruit tree when laden with fruit. (As a general principle with fruit trees, horizontal growth is fruitful, vertical growth is vegetative). Fruit quality is often very good with cordons, particuarly if planted on a north-south axis with the top of the tree pointing north, as sunlight can easily penetrate all parts of the tree to aid the ripening process.

Whilst minarettes and supercolumns are usually grown as free-standing trees (supported by a stake), cordons are usually grown against a wall or supported by a trellis. They can be planted quite close, 80cm if necessary (or 2ft – 3ft). A collection of 4-5 oblique cordons makes an attractive and productive feature in the garden.

Like minarettes and supercolumns, cordons will revert to being normal trees if they are not regularly summer-pruned.

Regardless of the term used, cordon training is more suitable for apples and pears – plums and cherries are not usually grown in this style because they do not suit the ongoing pruning necessary to maintain the form.

Whilst most fruit tree cordons consist of a single long stem, other more exotic forms are possible, including U-cordons, triple cordons, and cordons with even more arms.

Summary of columnar fruit tree forms

  • All these columnar forms make an attractive feature in the garden, particularly if planted in groups.
  • Ballerinas® are apple varieties that naturally grow in a pole-like columnar form. They are easy to maintain, but the flavour is arguably not as good as many mainstream apple varieties.
  • Minarettes® and Supercolumns are a form of cordon, grown vertically. Most apple or pear varieties can be grown in this fashion, but they require more maintenance than the other columnar forms. Plums and cherries can be grown this way too but the risk of disease entry from pruning cuts makes them less suitable.
  • Cordons are apple or pear trees trained in a columnar fashion. For best productivity and easier maintenance, they are usually planted at an oblique angle.

We have a range of fruit trees available as cordons, suitable for both vertical or oblique planting.

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