How do you grow espalier apple trees?


Quick Answer

Espalier trees are trained to grow sideways rather than up and add a great new dimension to a garden. Training fruit trees to grow that way also keeps harvesting easy, as the fruit is easily accessible from the entire tree.

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Full Answer

  1. Purchase the correct type and size of apple tree

    Apple trees must be of a spur-bearing variety. This term has to do with where the fruit grows, close to the branch on short spurs rather than at the tip of the branches. Red delicious and golden delicious are two popular varieties, although there are others. The tree should be a single stock with no side shoots or branches.

  2. Plant the apple tree in the middle of the selected trellis

    Be certain the graft point on the stem of the tree is 2 to 3 inches above the ground once the hole is filled in. Once the tree is planted and watered, cut the stem off at a 45 degree angle with sharp shears just slightly above the upper trellis. Tie the stem to the trellis with a soft plastic tie or twist tie.

  3. Train the desired branches as they grow

    Obviously, this is a long-term process. You want one branch at each side of the trellis, so likely four or six branches. Any other growth from the stem needs to be removed. Tie the growing branches onto the trellis when they are 4 to 6 inches long. Tie them loosely to keep them in place but not stifle their growth. As the branches continue to grow, tie them onto the trellis until they reach the end of the trellis "arms." Cut off the growing tips once that happens to keep the lateral branches from growing any longer.

  4. Control growth from the branches

    Vertical branches will start to grow from the lateral arms of the tree. These branches need to be pruned frequently to keep leaves growing to feed the tree. The fruit buds form near the lateral branches when the vertical growth is controlled.

  5. Maintain the growth and shape of the tree

    Watch for crossed branches, sprouting growths where they are not wanted,and areas where light is not penetrating. Pruning keeps these problems under control. Depending on the tree, pruning may be necessary every two or three years.

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