The Q&A Archives: Choosing Apple Trees

Question: I would like to plant 3-4 apple trees on my lot. I have a 10,000 to 12,000 sq. ft. lawn. I was thinking of planting dwarf apple trees so I could plant more varieties in a smaller space. Are there any disadvantages to planting dwarf vs. standard sized trees?

Answer: I suggest you look for semi-dwarf or standard, rather than fully dwarf, trees. Fully dwarf trees are quite fragile, short-lived, less cold-hardy, and require staking. They are commonly used for intensive apple production at commercial orchards. Some semi-dwarf trees will grow in your area; be sure they are on a hardy rootstock such as MM106. Some northern growers prefer to stick with full-size trees. The rootstocks are hardier, the trees are longer-lived, they generally don't get that big anyway and can be kept in bounds with regular pruning, and they make great climbing trees! <br><br>Whatever size you choose, I'd suggest you look into disease resistant varieties. Apple scab is a big problem in home orchards, often requiring frequent spraying. It makes sense to choose trees resistant to this disease. Some names are 'Liberty', 'MacFree', and 'Freedom'. There are also some heirloom varieties that show good resistance. A good source of information and trees is St. Lawrence Nurseries, web site: ; phone number 315-265-6739.

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