How Long Does It Take To Grow An Apple Tree?

How Long Does It Take To Grow An Apple Tree?

An apple tree can take anywhere from three to six years to grow and start producing fruit, depending on various factors such as the type of apple tree, soil conditions, weather patterns, and care given to the tree. Some dwarf varieties may start producing fruit earlier, while larger trees may take longer to mature.

It is important to note that while an apple tree may begin producing fruit after a few years, it may not reach full production until it is around 10 years old. Planting trees from apple seeds versus planting an apple tree seedling will also affect the time it takes to grow into a mature tree.

(Featured Image: Honeycrisp Apples by D. Wright)

This article contains affiliate links to our trusted apple tree supplier. We earn a small commission from purchases made through these links. Thank you for your support!

What Is The Fastest Growing Variety Of Apple Tree?

Different varieties of apple trees have different growth rates, but generally, dwarf and semi-dwarf trees tend to grow faster and bear fruit earlier than standard-sized apple trees. Here are some apple tree varieties that are known to grow relatively quickly:

  • Honeycrisp Apples: This popular apple variety is known for its fast growth and can begin producing fruit as early as three years after planting.
  • Gala Apples: Gala apple trees can also grow quickly and produce fruit in as little as three to four years.
  • Red Delicious: Red Delicious apple trees are fast growers and can start producing fruit as early as four years after planting.
  • Granny Smith: Granny Smith apple trees are also known for their fast growth and can begin producing fruit within three to four years.

It’s important to note that while these varieties may grow faster than others, the exact growth rate will depend on various factors such as soil conditions, climate, and the care given to the tree.

Is It Better To Start Apple Trees From Seeds Or Saplings?

Starting apple trees from saplings, or apple seedlings, is generally a faster way to grow apple trees. Apple saplings are young apple trees that are generally in the first year or second year of growth. These trees are still years away from being a mature apple tree, but they have gotten a healthy start in their pot and are ready to be planted in the ground.

Starting apple trees from seeds is possible, but it will increase the number of years it takes to reach a standard size apple tree. Seeds will need to be started indoors where soil moisture and climate can be closely controlled. Once the seed growing into a young fruit tree, it can be moved outside in the spring to be planted in the ground.

Do Grafted Trees Grow Faster Than Standard Trees?

Grafted apple trees may grow faster than standard apple trees, depending on the specific rootstock used. The rootstock is the lower part of the tree, onto which the scion, or upper part of the tree, is grafted.

Dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstocks are commonly used for apple trees and can result in faster growth and earlier fruiting compared to standard rootstocks. This is because dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstocks have a naturally smaller mature size, which means they can allocate more energy towards vegetative growth and fruit production.

However, the growth rate and fruiting of a grafted apple tree also depend on other factors such as climate, soil conditions, and pruning practices. Proper care, including regular fertilization, pruning, and pest management, can help ensure healthy growth and fruit production in any apple tree.

How Quickly Do Dwarf Apple Trees Grow?

The growth rate of dwarf apple trees can vary depending on the specific rootstock used, growing conditions, and variety of apple tree. However, on average, dwarf apple trees can grow up to 8-10 feet (2.4 to 3 meters) tall and wide and can take 2-3 years to start producing fruit.

In general, dwarf apple trees tend to grow more slowly than standard-sized apple trees, but they can still produce a substantial amount of fruit in a smaller space. With proper care and maintenance, dwarf apple trees can grow up to 12-15 inches (30 to 38 cm) per year.

It’s important to note that the growth rate of dwarf apple trees can also be affected by factors such as pruning, fertilization, and pest management. Regular pruning, for example, can help control the size and shape of the tree and promote healthy growth and fruit production.

If you’re considering growing a dwarf apple tree, be sure to choose a variety and rootstock that are suitable for your growing conditions and climate, and be prepared to invest time and effort into proper care and maintenance to ensure healthy growth and fruit production.

An apple tree in full bloom waits for pollinators to visit after growing quickly in the spring.

Spring Apple Blossoms by L. West

How To Plant An Apple Tree

1. Choose The Right Variety

Select an apple tree variety that is well-suited for your climate and soil type. Consider factors such as chilling requirements, disease resistance, and the size of the tree. Some common varieties chosen for beginners include:

  • Granny Smith Apples: Granny Smith apples are crisp, tart green apples known for their bright green skin and firm texture. They are often used in baking and make excellent choices for pies and other desserts due to their tartness and ability to hold their shape when cooked.
  • Honeycrisp Apples: Honeycrisp apples are a popular apple variety known for their sweet and crisp texture. They have a distinctive combination of sweetness and tartness, making them a favorite for snacking and adding a refreshing crunch to salads.
  • Jonagold Apples: Jonagold apples are a hybrid variety known for their sweet and slightly tart flavor profile. They typically have a yellow-green to golden skin with a red blush and are prized for their crisp texture and versatility in both eating fresh and using in cooking or baking applications.

2. Select A Planting Site

Choose a location with well-draining soil and full sun exposure. Apple trees require at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Use an actual soil pH meter for accurate measurements. We highly recommend this 4-in-1 soil meter by Raindrip as it can measure sunlight, moisture and basic nutrient density along with the pH of the soil.

3. Plant The Tree

Plant the tree in the spring, before new growth appears. Dig a hole that is twice the size of the root ball and deep enough to cover the graft union, or the top of the root ball. Backfill the hole with soil and water thoroughly. Gently pat the dirt around the trunk of the tree, but do not compress the soil too tightly.

4. Water Consistently

Apple trees need regular watering, especially during the first few years of growth. Water deeply once a week, or more frequently in hot, dry weather. For new trees, water daily unless there has been rain in the last 24 hours. 

5. Fertilize The Tree

Apply a balanced fertilizer in the spring, just before new growth appears. We exclusively use granular or spike fertilizers on all of our apple trees. We like this form of fertilizer because it allows for a continuous but controlled release of the nutrients. Fertilizer is essential for good fruit yields, do not skip this step!

6. Prune The Tree

Prune the tree in the late winter or early spring, while it is still dormant. Remove any dead or diseased branches, and shape the tree to promote good airflow and sunlight penetration. As the tree grows, remove lower limbs to improve the overall shape of the tree. Removing lower limbs can also help keep larger pests, like hungry deer, away from your fruit. 

7. Protect Your Apple Tree From Pests And Diseases

Protect the tree from pests and diseases by using appropriate methods such as spraying with organic or synthetic insecticides and fungicides. Manual removal of pests can also be a surprisingly effective way control insect invasions. 

Remember that the specific care needed for your apple tree may vary depending on the variety and growing conditions. Regular care and attention will help your apple tree thrive and produce delicious fruit.

An apple tree that has grown quickly is weighed down by ripe apples ready to be picked!

Apple Tree by B. Greenlee

Where Is The Best Location To Grow An Apple Tree?

The best place to grow an apple tree depends on various factors such as the climate, soil, and the variety of the apple tree you want to grow. In general, apple trees thrive in well-draining soil that is slightly acidic and receives full sun for at least six hours a day.

If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, a south-facing slope is ideal as it gets more sunlight and better air circulation, which reduces the risk of disease. However, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, a north-facing slope may be better as it gets more sunlight.

It’s also important to consider the climate of the region you live in as apple trees require a specific number of chilling hours to break dormancy and set fruit. Generally, apple trees prefer a temperate climate with cool winters and moderate summers.

Additionally, it’s important to select a variety of apple tree that is well-suited to your climate and soil conditions. Some varieties are more disease-resistant, while others are better suited to cooler or warmer climates.

Consulting a local nursery or agricultural extension office can help you select the best variety and location for your apple tree.

What Are The Best Conditions For Growing An Apple Tree Quickly?

The best growing conditions for apple trees include:

  • Soil: Apple trees prefer well-drained soil that is slightly acidic (pH between 6.0 and 6.5) with a good mix of organic matter. Avoid planting apple trees in heavy clay soils or soils with poor drainage.
  • Sunlight: Apple trees require at least 6 hours of sun each day to produce fruit. Plant your apple tree in an open location with direct sunlight, away from shade trees and buildings that prevent direct sun from reaching the tree.
  • Temperature: Apple trees grow best in temperate climates with cool winters and moderate summers. They require a certain number of “chill hours” (between 800-1,000 hours) of winter temperatures below 45°F (7°C) to break dormancy and produce fruit in the spring.
  • Water: Apple trees need regular watering, especially during dry periods. However, avoid overwatering as this can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases. It is a good idea to water new trees daily when they are first planted.
  • Fertilizer: Apple trees require regular fertilization to maintain healthy growth and fruit production. For best results, apply an organic fertilizer to apple trees early in the spring. Fertilizer spikes work best for a consistent and controlled release.
  • Pollination: Most apple trees require cross-pollination from another apple tree of a different variety to produce fruit. Be sure to plant two or more apple trees of different varieties to ensure proper pollination.

How Large Do Apple Trees Grow?

The size of an apple tree can vary depending on the type of rootstock and variety of the tree, as well as the growing conditions. Generally, standard apple trees can grow anywhere from 6 to 30 feet (2 to 9 meters) tall and wide, with some dwarf fruit trees growing as small as 4-6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) and some standard varieties growing up to 30 feet (9 meters) or more.

The seedling rootstock used can also affect the size of the apple tree. Dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstocks are commonly used to keep apple trees smaller and more manageable, while standard rootstocks can result in larger trees. If you have a small space for growing, dwarfing rootstock is an excellent choice for a home grower.

It’s important to consider the ultimate size of the apple tree when choosing a planting location, as well as the space needed for proper air circulation, sunlight exposure, and other growing conditions. Regular pruning can also help control the size of the tree and promote healthy growth and fruit production.

How To Harvest And Store Apples

Harvesting apples requires proper timing and careful handling to ensure that the fruit is of good quality and free from damage. Here are the general steps for to practice during apple harvest time:

  1. Timing: Apples are typically ready to harvest in late summer or early fall, depending on the variety and location. Look for signs of maturity, such as a change in color, firmness, and flavor. Each variety has specific harvesting cues, so consult with a local expert or consult the variety information for specific details.
  2. Harvesting: Pick the apples gently, using a twisting motion to detach them from the branch. Be careful not to damage the fruit or the surrounding buds or leaves. Apples that fall from the tree may be overripe, damaged, or infested with pests, so it’s best to pick them from the tree rather than picking them from the ground.
  3. Handling: Handle the apples carefully to avoid bruising or damaging the fruit. Place them in a basket or container that allows for good air circulation to prevent moisture buildup and rot. Avoid stacking the apples too deeply to prevent damage to the fruit on the bottom.
  4. Storing: Store the apples in a cool, dark place with good air circulation, such as a basement or cellar. Avoid storing them near other fruits or vegetables that release ethylene gas, which can cause premature ripening and spoilage. Check the apples regularly for signs of decay or rot, and remove any damaged fruit to prevent it from spreading to the rest of the batch.

By following these steps, you can harvest your apples at the right time and ensure that they are of good quality and free from damage.

Grow Your Own Apple Tree

Apple trees are a highly rewarding crop to grow. These trees can provide the same ornamental and shelter value that other trees offer, but has the benefit of fresh fruit production. Apple trees are also beautiful when they are in bloom, and they attract many pollinators and other animals to your yard.

Overall, if you have the appropriate growing conditions and are willing to put in the necessary effort, growing apple trees in your backyard can be a fun and rewarding experience. You can enjoy the delicious taste of fresh-picked apples and the beauty of a thriving apple tree in your own backyard.