2016

 
 

Apple trees are some of the most adaptable trees in existence. These western Asia natives, also known as Malus domestica, grow on most continents and are found from subtropic to cold temperate zones. Everyone is familiar with the delicious fruit but even if these pomes were inedible the tree would still be worthy of prominent garden placement. Typically they are medium sized trees, 20 to 25 feet tall and equally wide, a size easily accommodated by most modern gardens.  In early spring the bare branches explode in the famously colored apple-blossom pink flowers, though they're more often white in color. Nothing else quite says spring as much as this exuberant display.  And the flowers are a magnet for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. After the white or pink flowers drop one is left with handsome green leaves, with a slight serration, that obscure the development of the still green fruit. But with autumn, the leaves turn pretty shades of gold and crimson and remain on the tree longer than most other trees for a prolonged display before leaf-drop. But there is more, of course. As attractive as the bloom and foliage are they pale in comparison to the fruit; red, pink, green or gold. And fruit quality varies considerably. The type of apples found in stores are hardly ever the best apple for the home orchard. Store type apples are selected for their ability to survive shipping and their colorful display. But for the home orchard those factors matter little compared to taste and storage characteristics.

There is great variation as to winter chill requirements with some apples better suited to Canada, while others thrive in Florida or Australia. And though most apples will benefit from another variety as a pollinator, some are self-fruitful. Even the size is highly variable. Whereas 25 feet is typical there are dwarf, semi-dwarf and spur type trees that are even more adaptable to small plots. Aside from the tropics, apples can grow most anywhere so long as they have adequate drainage and full sun. Some varieties are more bothered by pests and disease than others and the better nurseries will offer more maintenance-free selections.

Apple tree

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