All our trees are grafted to dwarf root stock. The rootstock is below the union and controls the size of the tree. Any growth that may appear below the graft union should be removed immediately. By dwarfing the tree, we are able to keep it small and produce fruit within 2 years. Above the graft union is the scion which determines the variety of apple that the tree will produce.
A color ring is painted a few inches below the graft. It identifies the root stock variety and indicates the depth to which the tree should be planted. Take care to get the planting depth right. It you plant your tree shallow it will be too dwarfed. If you plant it too deep and the scion touches the soil it will root around the root stock producing a very large tree that takes 7 years to produce fruit. None of the semi-dwarf root stocks will need support for the tree (it is free standing). They may also be trellised.
To remove the plant from the container, hold the plant just above the soil line and bump the top of the bucket with the heel of your hand a few times. This should loosen the pot and it should separate cleanly from the root ball. If it proves a little stubborn, mash the side of the pot between your hands to loosen the soil and try again. Examine the root ball to see if the white feeder roots are circling on the face of the root ball. Circling roots will make the tree slower to establish in the soil. If they are present, using a sharp knife, make a series of very shallow cuts downward along the face of the root ball every few inches to break up the circling pattern. Plant the tree to the color line and water it well in order to remove any air that may have been trapped in the planting process.
Other planting Tips
- It is best to just use soil in filling the hole around the tree. Amendments may do more harm than good.
- Fertilization should be made just before growth starts in the spring – usually mid to late February.
- Keep all competing weeds, grass, or flowers at least 3 feet away from the base of the tree. They rob your young tree of nutrients and water.
- Do not let your tree have more than a few apples for the first couple years. Remove them when they are about the size of a nickel. You must grow the tree – the apples come later.