Apple trees, also known by the Latin name Malus domestica, are the most widely cultivated fruit trees and we have a vast range of varieties to reflect this. There's eating, cooking, cider and even dual purpose apples for those that want it all. When space is limited, family fruit trees are a great option as they have multiple varieties grafted onto one tree.
Apple trees are part of the Rose family (Rosaceae) and are native to Central Asia. There are now more than 750 known cultivars of apple tree. With so many varieties available, we recommend taking a few moments to narrow your choice down. Broadly speaking, apples are suited to either eating or cooking, but there are apples suited to both (known as dual purpose) or other uses such as cider making. Flavours have varying levels of sweet or sharp and there are also more subtle complexities including hints of strawberry, pear, pineapple or nuts.
Consider your location and if you are in a northern area of the UK, hardier varieties such as Discovery, Fiesta, Blenheim Orange and Charles Ross are most suitable. Most neighbourhoods have other apple trees for pollination, but if you live in a very remote location and are only planting one then we would recommend a self-fertile variety as these do not require a pollination partner.
When growing several varieties of apple tree, you can choose varieties that flower at the same time to aid pollination (see pollination guide) or you can choose those that fruit at different times to extend your harvesting right through from late summer to early autumn. Most varieties prefer full sun, though some such as Malus domestica 'James Grieve' and 'Egremont Russet' still produce fruit in partial shade.
If space for growing fruit trees is limited, there are several options. Ideally, choose a dwarf rootstock in this situation, as the final height and spread of the tree depends on both the rootstock and variety. However, all apple trees require at least one pruning every year to encourage a good crop, so they can be kept smaller if desired. We also offer patio cordon apple trees that are perfect for keeping in a pot.
Apple trees are among the easiest of fruit trees to grow in the UK and do well in most free draining soils with a sunny position (see Choosing Apple Trees for the best varieties to cope with less than ideal conditions). All the fruit trees on the website are pot grown so can be planted at any time of the year.
For spring and summer planting, water trees well and regularly for the first few months after planting, increasing watering if there are periods of hot or dry weather. Going forwards, we recommend mulching in spring by applying a layer of well-rotted manure or compost. In late spring, apply a general fertiliser. With little care, apple trees will reward you with crops of delicious fruit for years to come.
Different varieties of Apple ripen at different times (called Cropping Period). When ripe, apples will come away easily from the tree with a slight twist. Storing in trays will extend the length of time they can be kept. Visit the following guide for detailed planting, pruning and care advice of apple trees.