Due to a large selection of commercially available apple tree varieties and growth forms, the tasty and healthy fruit is suitable for problem-free cultivation, even on smaller plots of land. But be careful when choosing. Some Malus species are not able to fertilize themselves and therefore need a pollinator plant. The annual pruning of the fruit trees is by no means complicated, as it is often portrayed in relevant specialist literature. Here you will find important information on the care of apple trees.


The right choice of location and the composition of the garden soil are crucial for growth and a rich fruit harvest. The trees need a light, sunny to semi-shady place. A minimum distance to the house should be planned for the planting of the fruit trees. The sprawling crown of standard apple trees can reach a diameter of up to 10 meters. On the other hand, small and shallow-rooted Malus species, which are also suitable as trellis fruit for smaller gardens, are unproblematic.

Apple trees prefer a heavy, deep humus-loamy soil, which stores the water over a longer period of time and thus supplies the roots with sufficient nutrients and moisture.


Even owners of smaller garden plots do not have to do without their own apple harvest. Because in addition to the classic standard shape, which is known in many places from orchards, you can also grow some apple tree varieties as a fruit hedge or on a trellis. The care required hardly differs from that of normal-growing apple trees, except that ladders and climbing aids are not used. In larger gardens, the fruit tree can be planted in the classic way as a standard or half-grown standard form.

  • The best time to plant pome fruit is spring.
  • The dug hole must be twice as wide and deep as the root ball of the apple tree
  • The young tree is covered with a layer of soil rich in humus and compacted by pressure.
  • Then water well.
  • Cover the soil all around with a thick layer of bark mulch or compost, this retains moisture and prevents it from drying out too quickly on hot days.
  • To protect the tree from windthrow, the young plant is tied with a support stake.
Note: If the tree has a bulging thickening, the so-called grafting point, this must protrude about 15 centimeters above the ground to prevent root formation.

If young apple trees are planted in their final location, they need their energy and nutrients over the next few weeks and months for the development of new roots and for acclimatization. It is therefore important to remove or shorten superfluous shoots. As a basis, it is sufficient to leave three to four side shoots and one middle branch that towers over the others by a few centimetres. As early as the pruning of the plant, there is the possibility of directly influencing the later growth form of the apple tree.


Hot summer days sap the energy of the apple tree, which the plant actually needs for the formation of infructescence. To ensure that the harvest does not suffer from periods of drought, the Malus needs a regular supply of water. The amount should be enough to reach the roots of the plant to a depth of about 20 centimeters. In the case of newly planted or diseased pome fruit, the top layer of soil must not dry out. Depending on requirements, watering is also necessary several times a day.


Apple trees that are surrounded by a dense lawn often suffer from a lack of fertilizer. If the tree is visibly troubled, you must immediately supply it with a special complete fertilizer.
The general use of fertilizers in apple trees is controversial. It is better and more efficient to regularly mulch the soil around the tree and mix in small amounts of compost.

To cut

Proper pruning of the fruit trees is essential for a regular and successful apple harvest. However, the optimal pruning of the apple tree is not a complex science and can also be carried out by inexperienced gardeners. However, the work must be carried out extremely carefully and cleanly in order not to impair the growth habit of the tree and to avoid the formation of disturbing shoots.

The basis of a well-executed cut is prior planning and the right tool:

  • tree saw
  • Fuchsschwanz
  • pruning shears
  • hip
  • tension saw
  • ladder

With apple trees – or rather with every fruit tree – a distinction is made between two important types of pruning: the normal pruning and the topiary.

The traditional cut

This usually takes place immediately after flowering. The aim is to radically remove superfluous shoots in order to provide the remaining leaves and infructescence with enough light. In professional circles and in the literature, this cut is often referred to as a fruit cut . Fall and early spring are recommended for pruning to encourage the tree to produce fruit and buds for the following year. The growth of the apple tree is also enormously promoted by this “clearing cut”. With this type of cut, most shoots are only shortened, not completely eliminated.

Remove the following plant parts:

  • Branches growing inwards, interfering with or crossing each other
  • Shoots that rise steeply, so-called water shoots
  • Dead and diseased branches
  • Dry shoots
  • Competitive drives to the middle branch and the leading branches
  • Branches that affect the growth habit of the tree

Water shoots – These branches result from improper tree pruning and encourage the tree to grow new branch tips. If these shoots are not removed, they take away the light and important nutrients from the branches underneath. Water shooters themselves hardly or only insufficiently bear fruit.

Competitive instincts  – These branches prevent branches underneath from developing optimally. For this reason, they must also be removed completely.

Note: 3 to 4 leading shoots must remain on the apple tree. Otherwise, other shoots will grow steeply and vertically towards the light and water shoots will form unintentionally.


Fruit trees can also be planted in small gardens, but they are usually cultivated on trellises. With this type of cultivation, the fruit is grown like a kind of climbing plant and has to be cut into shape accordingly. The time depends on the growth rate of the trellis fruit. The following applies: the stronger the apple tree grows, the later the pruning is scheduled to curb growth. The end of winter, when the temperature is above freezing, has proven to be the optimal pruning date for fast-growing fruit tree varieties.

The following applies to all types of cuts:

  • Remove water shoots, diseased and dead branches directly at the base. Do not injure the astring under any circumstances.
  • If branches are shortened, this is done directly above the buds. In order to steer the direction of growth of the sprouting shoots upwards, the last bud before the cut should point outwards.

In order to stimulate the wood growth of the tree, a strong pruning is recommended. However, if you want a lush apple harvest in the following year, only minimally shorten the branches of the tree. The fruit tree reacts to this pruning by developing new, strong shoots.

Note: If the tree is cut cleanly and carefully, you can do without the use of special wound protection products.

Caution is required when pruning tall trees. Because every year numerous accidents are recorded during tree pruning. Similar to a mountaineer, you should protect yourself when working at dizzy heights. You should also not do without a stable and sure-footed ladder.


In many gardeners, the desire to propagate a particularly tasty or high-yielding apple tree variety often matures. However, rearing from seeds is not always successful, and these plants are weak and hardly bear fruit. Many varietal characteristics are not hereditary and could only be passed on to the next generation of apple trees through many years of selection and selection. However, if you do not want to buy young fruit trees that are not available in specialist shops, you can resort to grafting when propagating your apple tree favorites.

The simplest form of refinement is oculation, the so-called eye refinement. The starting point is a healthy fruit tree, the so-called rootstock, into which individual buds of the apple tree to be propagated are inserted:

  • a T-shaped incision is made in a young shoot of the “stock”.
  • Carefully loosen the bark at this point without removing it completely
  • With a sharp knife, carefully cut off the noble eye, the bud. Position the knife vertically about three centimeters above the bud and “peel” the bud as flatly as possible.
  • Also remove the bark area surrounding the bud
  • The noble eye is fully inserted into the T-cut.
  • Overhanging bark flaps are to be removed.
  • The finishing point is connected with raffia.

This method is also very suitable for older apple tree varieties, which have not been available in nurseries for years. In this way, many traditional fruit tree varieties could be saved from complete extinction. They’re making a comeback of sorts in the gardens of numerous enthusiasts.

diseases and pests

Even if it often seems like it, apple trees are not more frequently attacked by diseases and pests than other fruit trees.

  • Aphids are not choosy when it comes to choosing their host plants. That is why the winged parasites are often found on apple trees. Since they inevitably attract ants with their excrement and suck the vital juice from the plants, they should be removed immediately. The tree is sprayed with a decoction of nettles over a period of several days. The use of natural predators such as ladybirds and parasitic wasps is also recommended.
  • Cold, wet weather accelerates the infestation with a fungal disease, which causes enormous damage to the apple tree during the flowering period and also during the fruit harvest. Blossom monilia , also known as blossom and twig drought, causes entire branches and flowers to die off and does not stop at fully developed fruits. The fungal spores self-seed and overwinter inside apple mummies left on the tree. Infested plant regions and infected fruit must therefore be removed immediately and destroyed immediately. A special fungus treatment agent helps to combat it efficiently and quickly.
  • Orange or brown discoloration on the tree bark, which is becoming dry and cracked at the same time, ultimately indicates fruit tree canker . This wound parasite infects injured parts of the plant and its spread is also promoted by an excessive nitrogen supply. Infested parts of the apple tree must also be completely removed and disposed of here.
  • Another fungal disease that can lead to the death of the Malus is the octopus blight . Waterlogging and prolonged periods of rain promote infestation. The symptoms appear in the form of reddish discolored leaves, which wilt prematurely and eventually fall off. The growth of the tree and the development of its fruit are also noticeably impaired. The infected areas are removed and sealed with wound wax.

An apple tree should not be missing in any garden. In order to be able to enjoy a rich harvest every year, annual pruning of the tree plays an important role. A science is pursued around the “perfect” and “right” cut, which is basically not at all. With the right tips and a good eye, even laypeople can venture into the field of apple tree care and refinement.

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