Espaliered Apple Trees – Part III – Tree Planting

Espalier apple tree a few weeks after planting.In part III of this series we are going to focus on apple trees and planting. Once the trellis is completed it is time to start thinking about planting the trees. If you have not already selected your apple trees, here are a few things to consider when you are buying apple trees.

Keys to selecting apple trees.
– Find a good source for trees. (local nursery, internet, mail-order)
– Apple trees require the proper combination of trees for pollination. It is a good idea to reference a pollination chart to make sure you have the selected trees that will properly pollinate one another. (Click here to for a Pollination Chart)
– It is usually best to select a semi-dwarf or dwarf tree for espalier.
– Purchase dormant “bare root” trees.

Apple trees soaking in a bucket of water.

To prepare your trees for planting, soak the roots in a bucket of water for about 45 mins. before planting. As you can see in the image above, I was able to fit 4 trees in a 5 gallon bucket.

Hole for planting an apple tree.

While the roots are soaking, begin digging your planting holes. We dug our holes half way between our support posts. A general rule of thumb is to make your hole twice the size of the rootball, the entire rootball should fit nicely in the hole without twisting the roots around.

Apple tree sitting in the planting hole.

With the hole completed, place a mound of dirt in the center of the hole for the rootball to rest on. Place the tree in the hole to check the fit. Make sure to spread the roots down over the center mound.

If you are planting a semi-drawf or dwarf tree make sure the graft union is about 3 inches above your final soil or mulch level. If the graft union ends up underground, the scion variety could root and you would lose the semi-drawf or dwarf rootstock characteristics.

Note: I laid a piece of wood across the hole as a ground reference, to make sure that the graft union was above the soil line. You may have to adjust the depth of your hole.

Apple tree whip planted.

Once the hole size is correct you can place the tree in the hole and begin to fill the hole with the dirt you removed from the hole. I topped off our holes with a layer of good compost and then mulch.

We tried to position our trees in the hole so that the tree is located a few inches in front of the support wire.

Pruned espalier apple tree.

With the trees planted, I cut the trees back to about 2 or 3 inches above the wire. I also tied each tree off on the wire.

Next Post: Espaliered Apple Trees: Part IV Pruning and Training

Happy growing…

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