Red delicious Apple trees

Red Delicious AppleMalus domestica ‘Red Delicious’

This tree:

  • Produces a medium- to large-sized red apple that is tender, crisp and juicy with a sweet, mild flavor–great for fresh eating and desserts. The fruit will keep for 3–6 months if stored in the refrigerator.
  • Blooms midseason, with pinkish-white flowers.
  • Is available in standard, semi-dwarf and dwarf sizes. Our standard red delicious seedlings are budded onto whole rootstock; our semi-dwarf seedlings are grafted onto Malling-Merton III; and our dwarf seedlings are grafted onto Malling 7A, Malling 26.
  • Yields ripe fruit typically from mid- to late September to mid-October.
  • Requires regular watering.
  • Needs a compatible cultivar–growing within 100′ of the tree for standard, 50′ for semi-dwarf and 20′ for dwarf varieties– to ensure pollination.
  • Can be pollinated with yellow delicious, red Jonathan, early harvest or a variety from a different apple family.
  • Has a chill hours (CU) requirement of 700–800. (Chill hours are the average hours of air temperature between 32° and 45° F in a typical winter season.)
  • Grows in an oval shape.
  • Bears fruit in 6–10 years if standard sized. The semi-dwarf tree bears in 4–6 years, the dwarf in 3–4 years.
  • Tends to be a biennial bearer, meaning the tree bears fruit heavily one year and sparsely the next.

Malus domestica ‘Red Delicious’ (Semi-Dwarf Apple)

Number 1 ranking among apple varieties produced in the U.S. for 50 years, Malus domestica ‘Red Delicious’ is a culinary or dessert cultivar with a profusion of fragrant, white flowers in mid-season (mid spring). Draped in clusters along the branches, they are truly a sight to behold. The flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. They are followed in fall by heavy, regular crops of medium to large, slightly elongated apples, striped red to solid midnight red. Exceptionally sweet, tender, crisp, juicy, they are flavorful and snack-worthy, perfect for eating fresh or in salads. The fruits will keep for 3-6 months if stored in the refrigerator. Red Delicious is not self-fertile and requires pollination by a tree of another variety with the same bloom period, such as Fuji, Gala or Golden Delicious. This is a heavily bearing cultivar that enjoys a good reputation for disease-resistance. Originated in Iowa in the 1870s, Red Delicious remains as popular as ever. Beautiful in bloom, heavy with luscious apples, picturesque when old, apple trees are very rewarding additions to the landscape.

  • Grows up to 12-15 ft. tall and wide (3-5 m).
  • A full sun lover, this tree is easily grown in deep, loamy, moderately fertile, medium moisture, well-drained soils. Prefers a sheltered, frost-free position.
  • Since edible apple cultivars do not grow well on their own roots, most varieties have been grafted onto rootstocks and are classified as dwarf (8-10 ft, 2-3 m), semi-dwarf (12-15 ft, 3-5 m) and standard (18-25 ft, 5-8 m). The fruit itself is full size and not dwarfed. Dwarf or semi-dwarf apple trees offer some benefits: they produce fruit at an earlier age and are easier to manage (spray, prune and harvest).
  • Apples should be pruned every year to get the best crop. They also need to be thinned to about 8 in. apart (20 cm) if you want to reap the best-quality fruit.
  • This deciduous apple tree adds a charming presence, tucked into a shrub border or planted as a specimen.
  • Keep an eye out for aphids, woolly aphid, rosy apple aphid, fruit tree red spider mite, mussel scale, codling moth, caterpillars, Apple scab, apple canker, powdery mildews, blossom wilt and honey fungus.
  • Propagate by chip budding or grafting onto a clonal rootstock for fruit.

For at least 70 years, the Red Delicious has dominated apple production in the United States. But since the turn of the 21st century, as the market has filled with competitors—the Gala, the Fuji, the Honeycrisp—its lead has been narrowing. Annual output has plunged. And even still, a gap is growing between supply and demand from American consumers. Earlier this month, Todd Fryhover, the president of the Washington Apple Commission—whose growers produce the majority of apples in the United States—recommended that this harvest, up to two-thirds of the state’s Red Delicious yield be exported.

How did such an unlikeable apple become the most ubiquitous in the country? And as its dominion here ends, where will it invade next?

* * *

If you want to make an allegory of the Red Delicious, you might see in it the story of America: confident intrusion on inhabited soil, opportunity won in a contest of merit, success achieved through hard work, integrity pulverized in the machinery of industrial capitalism. In the 1870s, Jesse Hiatt, an Iowa farmer, discovered a mutant seedling in his orchard of Yellow Bellflower trees. He chopped it down, but the next season, it sprang back through the dirt. He chopped it down again. It sprang back again. “If thee must grow,” he told the intrepid sprout, “thee may.”

A decade later, Hiatt’s tree bore its first fruit. The apples were elongated globes with red-and-gold striped skin, crisp flesh, and a five-pointed calyx. In 1893, when Stark Brothers’ Nursery of Louisiana, Missouri, held a contest to find a replacement for the Ben Davis—then the most widely planted apple in the country, strapping and good-looking but bland—Hiatt submitted his new variety, which he called the Hawkeye. “My, that’s delicious,” Clarence Stark, the company’s president, reportedly said after his first bite.

But not for the first time in apple lore, one sweet taste precipitated a fall. Stark Brothers’ soon secured the rights to the Hawkeye, changed its name to the Stark Delicious (only after the branding of the Golden Delicious, in 1914, did it become the Red Delicious), and began an ambitious marketing campaign. Over the next two decades, the nursery spent $750,000 to promote the new apple, dispatching traveling salesmen to farms across the country and exhibiting the Delicious at the 1904 World’s Fair. After the completion of the Great Northern Railway, Clarence Stark sent trainloads of seedlings to newly established orchards in the Columbia River Valley, their leaves trembling as the engines rumbled West.

With its hardy rootstocks and juicy, curvaceous fruit, the Red Delicious quickly became a favorite of growers and consumers from coast to coast—and as its commercial success grew, so did its distance from Hiatt’s Hawkeye. In 1923, a New Jersey orchardist wrote to the Starks to report that one limb of a tree he had purchased from the nursery was producing crimson apples while those on the other limbs remained green. A chance genetic mutation that made the apples redden earlier had also given them a deeper, more uniform color, and customers were lining up for a taste. Paul Stark, one of Clarence’s sons, travelled up from Missouri and laid down $6,000 for the limb. News of the deal spread, and soon The Gettysburg Times reported that more than 500 horticulturists from 30 states had gathered at the orchard to discuss the “freak bud” that produced “the marvel apple of the age.” Their meeting marked the beginning of an era of fruit improvement, as growers began to seek out and cultivate similar mutations.

It’s apple season. So in today’s most crunchy story, we rate Aussie apples from least to most delicious

We Aussies love our apples. Our farmers grow 1.6 billion of them each year, and we eat 200 million kilos a year. That’s more than any fruit except bananas.

Interestingly, we don’t eat apples for breakfast. Prime apple time is in the afternoon, when we crave a healthy crunch to get us through until knock-off time.

Australians have a long and healthy relationship with apples, dating back to Maria Ann Smith, much better known as “Granny” Smith, who in the mid 1800s cultivated the first crop of our now famous Granny Smith apples.

Most people eat their apples whole rather than cut up, according to research conducted by local industry group Aussie Apples.

The main advice from Aussie Apples is to keep your apples in the fridge. Fruit bowls full of shiny red apples look great in impressionist art, but they’re a sure way to make your apples floury.

But which apples are best?

That’s obviously a personal preference, but here’s our rating of the 12 varieties grown in Oz.

If our ratings leave a sour taste in your mouth, feel free to let us know which core issues we got wrong in the comments below.

12. Granny Smith

Interestingly, research shows that men under 30 like these best.Source:NewsComAu

The blurb says: “one of the best cooking apples with a sensational tart, tangy flavour.”

We say: Great for making apple sauce, but lousy on their own. A snack doesn’t work as a snack if you have to motivate yourself to eat it and Granny Smiths are just too tart to enjoy on a regular basis. You never heard anyone say that about a chocolate bar, did you?

11. Braeburn

Looks red, tastes green. No thanks.Source:NewsComAu

The blurb says: “A crisp, juicy apple, it has a cream-coloured flesh and a unique flavour that combines sweetness and tartness.”

We say: These were originally a cross between a Kiwi apple brand and our own Granny Smith. A red apple that tastes sour is just wrong.

10. Golden Delicious

If you get one crisp, they’re great. Otherwise, feed to pigs.Source:NewsComAu

The blurb says: “It is excellent as an eating apple, with its crisp, creamy, white flesh, which is sweet, tasty and juicy.”

We say: Good as an eating apple, especially when the skin’s still a little green but they’re too often mushy and are way more reliable as a cooking apple.

9. Red Delicious

The old fave is a little faded these days. Still good on its day, though.Source:NewsComAu

The blurb says: “A medium to large apple with… highly aromatic, creamy, white flesh. Great in salads.”

We say: The fact they say it’s great in salads reveals much. While a good red delicious is the equal of any apple, the reality is that the most commonly-grown apple in NSW is often stored too long and can be floury when it hits the shops.

8. Jazz

Not quite music to your mouth.Source:NewsComAu

The blurb says: “A crunchy, effervescent cross between Gala and Braeburn apples … a firm but dense flesh and a tangy, sweet flavour somewhat reminiscent of peaches and melon.”

We say: If we want something that tastes like peaches and melon, we’ll buy peaches and melon. Overrated.

7. Jonagold

One for lovers of fusion cuisine.Source:NewsComAu

The blurb says: “The Jonagold variety originated in New York State in 1968, as a cross between a Jonathan and Golden Delicious”.

We say: So it’s a little bit sweet like the golden delicious and a little bit crisp like the Jonathan but a whole bunch of neither-here-nor-there.

6. Fuji

Like a toffee apple with built-in toffee.Source:NewsComAu

The blurb says: “A big apple with a honey sweet taste and a see through core. It is firm-textured, crisp and juicy.”

We say: Delicious but a little too sweet for some.

5. Jonathan

Cannibalism is banned in this country but here’s a Jonathon you can feel free to eat.Source:NewsComAu

The blurb says: “An old-fashioned eating apple favoured by many mature Australians who treasure their crisp, juicy flesh and tangy flavour.”

We say: Their main advantage is they’re nice and small so they’re good for kids’ lunch boxes or a quick snack at work.

4. Pink Lady

This is Australia’s best-selling apple.Source:NewsComAu

The blurb says: “a crisp apple with a dense, firm flesh, distinctive pink colouring and a fizzy, almost effervescent flavour.”

We say: The Pink Lady is Australia’s best-selling apple, but for some, it’s a tiny bit too sweet. The best apples have a more gentle, neutral taste.

3. Sundowner


The blurb says: “Sugar levels improve with storage, making them a sweet, flavoursome apple, perfect for baking.”

We say: Their sugar levels increase with storage but their crispness doesn’t. Unbeatable if you get a good one, though.

2. Eve

You’d break every rule in the Garden of Eden to get your hands on one of these.Source:NewsComAu

The blurb says: Eve is a sweet tangy apple with a superb white flesh contrasting a bright red skin. Crisp, crunchy, flavoursome and firm, very refreshing and ideal for fresh eating.

We say: Underrated. Any apple with a reliably crisp white flesh is a good apple.

1. Royal Gala

You’re a royal galah if you don’t think these apples are tops.Source:NewsComAu

The blurb says: A “round sweet apple… with a dense, sweet, aromatic and juicy with a white flesh”.

We say: they look just right, they taste just right. Right at the top of the tree.

Mildly flavored and often mealy in texture, Red Delicious is the most widely recognized of all U.S. apple varieties after getting its start in Iowa in the 1870s. Gala, on the other hand, was developed in the 1930s in New Zealand and came to the U.S. in the 1970s.

Measured in 42-pound units, Gala production is expected to increase to 52.4 million in 2018, from 49.5 million units last year, edging out Red Delicious, the production of which will decline to 51.7 million this year from 57.9 million in 2017, the group estimates.

The forecast projects Granny Smith will be the third most grown, following by Fuji and then Honeycrisp, which knocked Golden Delicious into sixth place.\u00a0


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America’s got a new favorite apple

The long-running reign of the Red Delicious is coming to an end, and for some apple connoisseurs, it can’t come soon enough.

The crisp, juicy and very sweet Gala is projected to this year replace the Red Delicious as the nation’s most-grown apple, according to the U.S. Apple Association, a trade group.

As orchard consultant and acknowledged Red Delicious critic Tom Burford told the New York Times: “How are you going to market a tasteless apple when the consumer has tasted so many good apples?”

Mark Seetin, director of regulatory and industry affairs for the U.S. Apple Association, had a more muted take: “The rise in production of newer varieties of apples aimed at the fresh consumption domestic market has caused demand for Red Delicious to decline,” Seetin said in a statement.

A Gala apple. U.S. Apple Association

Mildly flavored and often mealy in texture, Red Delicious is the most widely recognized of all U.S. apple varieties after getting its start in Iowa in the 1870s. Gala, on the other hand, was developed in the 1930s in New Zealand and came to the U.S. in the 1970s.

Measured in 42-pound units, Gala production is expected to increase to 52.4 million in 2018, from 49.5 million units last year, edging out Red Delicious, the production of which will decline to 51.7 million this year from 57.9 million in 2017, the group estimates.

The forecast projects Granny Smith will be the third most grown, following by Fuji and then Honeycrisp, which knocked Golden Delicious into sixth place.

While consumers are eating fewer Red Delicious apples, Seetin says it’s too soon to knock the variety out of contention, given its popularity across U.S. borders. As he noted, “Red Delicious is important in the export market, where it makes up roughly half of our apple exports.”

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The mealy fruit approximation that the Red Delicious apple has become is not solely the product of industry, working diligently to push flavor out and breed profitability in to our food. Human instinct bears some responsibility for the apple’s blandness as well.

Dr. Sarah Taber, a scientist and podcaster, recently pointed out on Twitter that the Red Delicious apple started out as an exceptionally, well, delicious apple, but that its particular genetics decoupled the link between color and flavor. “Red Delicious was A+ in its original incarnation,” she wrote on Twitter. “Then folks kept grafting from bud sports (=sometimes a tree throws a branch that’s a little different, it’s normal) w darker & darker fruit. Selected for color instead of quality.”

Long the most-grown apple in the US, in 2018 the Red Delicious was supplanted by the Gala, known for its crunch and lively balance of acidity and sweetness. The Red Delicious that are grown in the US, and still make up a huge portion of the trees in commercial orchards, are largely earmarked for export, particularly to China where they’re a popular gift. On the domestic end of things a lot of these unsexy apples end up in institutional settings like schools, hospitals, and hotels.

It’s not like the Gala-glomming, Honeycrisp-hankering public never enjoyed the Red Delicious, though. Our tastes have changed and gotten more sophisticated as supermarkets have added more variety to the produce section – not just for apples, but with the addition of fresh herbs, heirloom tomatoes, and new varieties of citrus as well.

AP Photo/Alan Marler Times change, and our taste for apples along with them.

The deep red color and platonically perfect appleness of a Red Delicious is what made it so popular to begin with, and not because consumers were being tricked. Buying the biggest, reddest apples is instinctual, Taber pointed out on Twitter. “This makes some evolutionary sense,” she wrote. “When confronted w a variety of otherwise identical fruit (say, bins of apples at the store), humans go for the darkest red ones. In nature, that’s how you eat the ripe ones.”

It’s hard to imagine in an era that prizes the massive irregularity of heirloom tomatoes, and touts buying “ugly produce” as a social good, but the bland badness of the Red Delicious was not a vast horticultural conspiracy to get us to eat substandard fruit. It was just a phase we were going through.

The Long, Monstrous Reign of the Red Delicious Apple Is Ending

By Niraj Chokshi, New York Times

After more than a half-century as America’s most-grown apple, the Red Delicious is on track to be ousted this year by a sweet, juicy, young upstart: the Gala.

That’s according to the U.S. Apple Association, a trade group, which released its production forecast for 2018 last week.

“It’s the beginning of the end,” said Tom Burford, an apple historian, orchard consultant and admitted Red Delicious detractor. “How are you going to market a tasteless apple when the consumer has tasted so many good apples?”

Despite his bias, Burford has a point: The decline of the Red Delicious, with its mild flavor and often mealy texture, can be credited to a shift in consumer preferences toward apples that are crunchier, crisper and sweeter.

“It’s the industry adapting to the consumer’s demands,” said Mark Seetin, the director of industry affairs for the Apple Association, who, unlike Burford, is more sanguine about the apple variety’s future.

The Red Delicious is still projected to be the second most-popular apple by production in America, according to the group, which claims 7,500 growers as members. The Granny Smith will be third, followed by Fuji and the ascendant Honeycrisp, which could rise to third place as soon as 2020, just three decades after its introduction, the trade group said. While the country had native apples, the most common domestic varieties today are descendants of centuries-old imports from Europe, according to “Apples of North America,” a book by Burford, whose family has been growing apples since the early 1700s.

Apples were an important part of colonial America, used not only as food but often to make hard cider, a popular alternative to water that was unfit to drink, according to Erika Janik, author of “Apple: A Global History” and executive producer of podcasts at New Hampshire Public Radio.

“Apples were some of the earliest things planted by colonists in the United States,” she said. “Basically everyone had an apple tree or two or three in their yard.”

But the Red Delicious was a relative latecomer. It was discovered in the late 1800s by Jesse Hiatt, an Iowa farmer who reluctantly let a Red Delicious tree grow on his property after several unsuccessful attempts at killing it, according to various accounts.

In the early 1890s, Hiatt entered the fruit, which he had named “Hawkeye,” into an apple competition and won, ultimately agreeing to sell the rights to the contest’s hosts, the Stark Bros. Nursery, in Missouri, according to Burford’s book.

The Stark brothers, whose nursery is still operating more than a century later, renamed the apple “Delicious” and, later, “Red Delicious” to differentiate it from a yellow apple from West Virginia that they began to sell under the name “Golden Delicious,” according to the book.

The Red Delicious enjoyed relative popularity for decades, but took off in the mid-20th century, with its distinctive elongated shape and five-point base becoming an American symbol, according to the book “Apples of Uncommon Character,” by Rowan Jacobsen. Then things started to change.

“We left the farm,” Jacobsen said in an interview. “As more and more people became city people and national supermarkets arose, you were no longer getting your own apples and you were no longer getting local apples.”

To meet the demands of consumers who began to associate the color red with ripeness, apple growers and supermarkets produced and sold ever-redder apples at the expense of flavor.

“We started eating with our eyes and not our mouths,” Burford said.

In recent decades, the trend has started to reverse itself, as consumers have begun to pay more attention to the provenance, variety and quality of goods, such as coffee, tomatoes, beer and, of course, apples.

The Honeycrisp, for example, has soared in popularity, largely on the strength of its crispness and sweetness, since it was developed at the University of Minnesota and released in 1991. The shift in tastes isn’t lost on the industry. Demand for new Red Delicious trees is falling and the growers see that there’s a glut of the fruit they bear, according to Seetin, of the Apple Association.

But he isn’t ready to count out Red Delicious apples entirely: They still account for about half of apple exports and remain popular in other countries, like India.

“They’re going to reach an equilibrium,” Seetin said. “I very seriously doubt they’re just going to vanish from the picture.”

Red Delicious Apple Info: Tips For Growing Red Delicious Apples

Red delicious apples, with more than 2,500 cultivated varieties in North America, are heart shaped with bright red striped skin. This apple variety was so named after the commercial nursery owner tasted and exclaimed, “Delicious” in 1892.

Red Delicious Apple Info

If you love and admire the taste of Red Delicious apples, then you must want to learn more about the tree and how to grow it in the landscape. This general information is quite helpful for both growers and consumers. Red Delicious tree size ranges from 10-25 feet (3-8 m.) in height and 12-15 feet (4-5 m.) wide.

It becomes more attractive when it bears white-pink colored flowers early in the season. Like other apple trees, it is deciduous, which means that it will shed its leaves in autumn, providing the best time for pruning.

The taste of the fruit is sweet and mild. With long storage life, the apples can be used for a

variety of purposes but are mostly found great for eating fresh and making desserts.

How to Grow a Red Delicious Apple Tree

Proper Red Delicious apple care is essential for having a healthy tree and fruits. Before planting your Red Delicious tree, make your soil is free from weeds. Dig a hole about 2-3 feet (.60-.91 m.) deep and add some organic manure or compost in the hole. Make sure that your plant is healthy and free from any disease or injury. Loosen the soil around the root ball, as it will help the roots to penetrate into the soil.

If you are interested in planting a grafted Red Delicious apple tree, then make sure that the graft union is at least 2 inches (5 cm.) above the soil surface.

Before growing Red Delicious apple trees, select pollinating varieties that are compatible, like Gala, Fuji and Granny Smith, and suitable in your area. Red Delicious do not pollinate by themselves but are cross pollinated, mostly with Golden Delicious and Gala. For maximum production, the planting distance must be considered – 12-15 feet (4-5 m.) apart for semi dwarf Red Delicious trees and 10 feet (3 m.) apart for dwarf varieties.

Red delicious apple trees are sun loving and need a minimum six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

The tree grows well in acidic, well-drained and humid soils. Generally, the soil must be porous and supplemented with hay or some other organic material to keep it moist and full of nutrients.

It’s susceptible to drought stress, so a proper irrigation plan is essential for Red Delicious apples in the orchard. In northern areas, spring planting is suggested while the areas where the weather is mild and moist, fall planting is also successful.

Choosing a Location for Apple Trees

The best way to succeed is to plan before you plant. Let’s discuss location: Do you know where you want to plant your new apple trees? Avoid many future problems by considering all aspects of the planting spot, such as:

  • Cross-pollination
  • Sun and good soil
  • Check out the surroundings
  • Space wisely
  • Leave space for future plantings

NOTE: This is part 3 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow apple trees, we recommend starting from the beginning.


Is a compatible pollinator-variety present? Cross-pollination by a different variety (like Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, etc.) of the same type of tree (apples to apples) is key to the fruiting success of an apple tree. In most cases, the lack of a compatible pollinator variety is why apple trees produce poorly, or don’t bear fruit at all. Since insects and wind need to carry pollen from blossom to blossom between trees, apple trees and their pollen partners should be planted nearby – within 50 feet of one another for adequate cross-pollination to occur.

There are a few varieties of apple trees that are self-pollinating, meaning your tree will still bear apples when it matures, without requiring another apple variety’s pollen. If you are limited on space, consider planting a self-pollinating apple tree like these:

  • Golden Delicious Apple
  • Stark® Jon-A-Red® Jonathan Apple
  • Starkspur® Red Rome Beauty Apple
  • Grimes Golden Apple

Sun and Good Soil

Apple trees thrive when growing in a location that receives full sun and has a well-drained, fertile soil.

Full sun translates to at least six- to eight-hours of sunlight during the growing season. Light is vital to fruit production and fruit quality, and also helps keep fungal issues from advancing, so be sure to keep this in mind when choosing a location for your new apple trees.

Good soil drainage is necessary to keep an apple tree’s roots healthy, and healthy roots are the foundation of a healthy tree. If you discover that your native soil is composed of heavy clay that retains water after rainy weather, you should choose a different site for your apple tree. Similarly, if your site has fast-draining, sandy soil, then your apple tree may exhibit water-related stress (similar to conditions of drought) and may require more-frequent watering. For your growing success, we do not recommend planting apple trees in rocky or heavy, pure-clay soils. If you can’t plant elsewhere, you can try amending the soil of your planting site prior to planting your apple trees.

Amending the soil greatly depends on your individual location, so communicating with your local county cooperative extension is a wise first step. In general – to help with water distribution – you can add coir, like our Coco-Fiber Growing Medium, to your apple tree’s planting hole or mix in one-third sphagnum/peat to the soil at planting time.

Alternately, to avoid directly dealing with your native soil, you can build a bottomless raised bed (at least 12-inches deep and at least 3- to 4-feet around) in which to plant your apple tree. You can also plant apple trees in containers, starting with a pot that accommodates each apple tree’s current root system (with room to grow). Most new apple trees can be planted in a 5-gallon container to start, and you can pot-up container-grown apple trees into larger containers as the trees outgrow them.

Even if your yard isn’t the most ideal location, take heart. Apple trees can be very adaptable and they respond well to soil additives like compost or fertilizers, so they can get along well even where the soil is nutritionally poor. Just remember to avoid planting sites with extremely heavy soils and poor drainage.


Apple trees can also become a landscaping asset, so choose a planting site with this in mind. Imagine your new apple tree as a full-grown tree and check everything out:

  • Are there wires or any other obstructions overhead?
  • Are there cables, pipes, or other lines and utilities you should avoid underground?
  • Is there a sidewalk or foundation within the range of your apple tree’s mature spread?
  • Might your apple tree block the view of something you want to see once it’s fully grown?
  • Will neighboring trees be in the way or block sunlight from your apple tree as they grow?

Even a year or two after planting, an apple tree can be very difficult to successfully transplant, so take the time to plant it in just the right place the first time around.

Space Wisely

Growers often ask about the recommended planting distances for apple trees to keep them away from patios, sewer lines, water pipes, etc. Ordinarily, patios will not be a problem because the soil beneath them is dry and compacted. The roots will not be as encouraged to grow into this area; however, it’s better to plant with at least 8 to 10 feet of space between these structures and your apple trees. A smart distance is somewhere beyond your apple tree’s estimated maximum spread. This is roughly equal to the mature height of the apple tree you choose to plant (for example: Dwarf, Semi-Dwarf, Standard. See recommendations for Space Between Trees and other structures below).

You might not expect sewer and water lines to be structures that are affected by planting apple trees, since they are buried so deeply, but, since sewer and water lines tend to be wet, apple tree roots will be attracted to them and grow around them if the tree is planted too near. By planting apple trees far enough away from these things, you can avoid problems in the near or distant future.

Space Between Trees

  • Dwarf: 8 to 10 feet
  • Semi-Dwarf: 12 to 15 feet
  • Standard: 18 to 20 feet
  • Columnar: 2 to 3 feet

Space for Future Plantings

When you’re new to planting apple trees, or you’re planting apple trees in a new location, it’s wise to start with just a few apple trees at first. Later on, especially after you have reaped the rewards of growing your own apples firsthand, you may want to expand your home orchard. It’s helpful to plan to leave room for additional apple trees, or even other fruit trees, berry plants, and other garden plants. That way, the future planting sites will be available when you are ready, without hindering your existing apple trees.

In This Series

  • Introduction

Getting Started

  • Acclimate
  • Location
  • Planting
  • Soil Preparation

Care & Maintenance

  • Fertilizing
  • Pest & Disease Control
  • Pruning
  • Spraying
  • Watering

Other Topics

  • Harvesting

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