Column fruit is more and more common in domestic gardens. The columnar growth, which is often due to a mutation, ensures space-saving cultivation. Whether as a solitary plant or as a fruit tree hedge, the small plants require extremely intensive care and are just as susceptible to diseases and pests as their larger relatives. The fruits of columnar apples develop directly on the side wood, which simplifies the cut.
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Location and soil
A sunny to partially shaded place is preferred by the columnar apple trees. If the location is too dark, the plant will only develop a few flowers and fruits. The apples also need direct sunlight during the ripening period in order to develop an aromatic taste.
For a high-yield harvest, you should not only choose the optimal location, but also the right substrate. Apple trees tolerate a loose, water-permeable soil layer. Whether in the bucket or in the field, mix large amounts of compost into the substrate. The columnar apple also accepts a slightly acidic pH. Too loamy and compacted soil promotes diseases and growth damage.
Watering and fertilizing
There are also a few things you should pay attention to when it comes to “pouring”. For a high-yield harvest and the health of the plant, the substrate must never dry out completely. You should absolutely avoid waterlogging. Put in a drainage already during the planting and ensure a better water flow.
The pillar apple needs a lot of moisture, especially during flowering and fruit ripening. Water regularly and also spray the leaves with a water atomizer on warm days. Apple trees prefer high humidity.
The supply of nutrients in pots is limited and compost that you add yourself is quickly used up. Along with the need for water, the need for minerals also increases during the blossoms and fruit formation. Provide the plant with conventional liquid fertilizer every 14 days, which is administered directly via the irrigation water. In spring and autumn you can add compost or horn shavings to the substrate.
Due to the columnar growth, these apple trees are very suitable for cultivation in the front yard or on the balcony. The best time to plant is in early spring so that the plant can use the warm season to take root. Make sure that the planting hole offers enough space for the root ball and water the columnar apple extensively immediately after planting.
Choose a wide planter when keeping a container, because apple trees are shallow roots. A drainage from pebbles or potsherds at the bottom of the vessel prevents the formation of waterlogging. For the substrate, you can use conventional garden soil, which you should enrich 1/3 with compost.
Even when cultivating outdoors, you don’t have to pay much attention to them. The optimal location and the right substrate are important for a high-yield harvest. Lean soils can be enriched with larger amounts of compost. For better water drainage and loosening of the soil, mixed lava chippings or coarse pebbles have also proven themselves.
Pillar apples are also suitable for planting as a privacy fence. However, keep a minimum distance of about 60 centimeters between the individual trees. In order to get a straight planting line, you can tie the space with a string beforehand. The planting hole must be twice as wide and deep as the root ball of the columnar apple. This makes it easier for the plant to acclimate to the new location.
Cultivated varieties – including the columnar apple – are difficult to propagate. Because the high-yielding plants are often a refined variety, the genetic characteristics of which are seldom passed on through the kernels. As a rule, a distinction is made between two different types of appearance in columnar apples: those with the genetic growth form and those that are “raised” to a columnar growth.
If you want to propagate a high-yielding variety through grafting, you need a rootstock, preferably a strong, young apple tree. Make head grafting on columnar apples. Even inexperienced hobby gardeners can carry out this type of propagation with a little patience and instinct. First get a suitable apple tree with pronounced roots from a specialist retailer or simply grow it yourself with seeds.
- Remove 20-30 centimeters thick shoot from the columnar apple.
- Cut the end of this “noble rice” into a wedge shape.
- Create a suitable notch on the finishing base.
- Push the noble rice into this opening.
- Wrap both parts of the plant tightly with raffia.
- Brush with tree resin or tree wax.
Growing together takes some time and fruit formation will only take place in the 2nd or 3rd year after grafting.
Column apples with a genetic habit are not only extremely easy and space-saving to cultivate, they also hardly cause any problems when it comes to pruning.
- It is cut before budding in February or March.
- Shorten shoots that are too long.
- Completely remove branches that grow steeply upwards or that branch off.
- Cut sick or dead shoots close to the trunk.
- Remove heavily lignified branches.
When pruning, pay attention to the growth shape of the columnar apple tree and try to maintain it with the right pruning. For an abundant harvest, thinning must be carried out immediately after the fruit has formed. Only in this way will the remaining apples receive enough nutrients and develop optimally. In this step, the young fruits are separated.
Repot and overwinter
Choose a sufficiently large container for the first planting. Column apples are repotted about every two to three years. In this step, you can replace the substrate with humus-rich soil and shorten the roots of the plant by a few centimeters.
In the open field, columnar apples do not need special protection for the winter. A thick layer of compost in late autumn only ensures that the plant has enough nutrients for the coming spring. When planting in pots, you should wrap the planter with a fleece as a precaution. In this way, your fruit plants can withstand even double-digit minus temperatures undamaged.
We strongly advise against staying in a frost-free room. The columnar apple tree needs hibernation and should not sprout during this time of year. This could result in steep shoots and susceptibility to disease.
A deliberate mutation resulted in small apple tree varieties with a columnar habit. The best-known varieties include, for example:
- Primo: Bright red apple variety with a sweet and sour, juicy aroma.
- Moonlight: Green apple with a spicy, sweet and sour taste.
- Rondo: Apple variety with a good shelf life and high yield. Sweet and sour taste.
- Pomgold: Mild, juicy taste with a high yield.
- Goldland: High yield with a sweet and sour aroma. Good shelf life
- Rotbäckchen: Red-green, crunchy apple. Slightly sour in taste and conditionally storable.
Pillar apples are not self-fertilizers. For this reason, one or more apple trees of the same variety should be in the immediate vicinity in order to produce the fruits.
Column fruit requires more care than traditional fruit trees. In addition to regular pruning, the unripe fruits must also be thinned out for a healthy and high harvest yield. Choosing the right location and a regular supply of water are just as important. The root ball of the columnar apple must never dry out completely. Discolored or withered leaves are not always due to pests or a fungus, incorrect watering behavior or over-fertilization or nutrient deficiency can also be the cause.
Pests and diseases
Like all fruit trees, columnar apples are very susceptible to fungal diseases and pests. Incorrect location and excessive watering will weaken the plants. When buying the fruit plants, look for a robust variety.
This disease caused by a hose fungus is one of the most common apple tree diseases. Damp weather or high humidity accelerates the infestation. Visible symptoms include discoloration on the leaves and scab-like spots on the fruit. The shelf life of the ripened apples is reduced by the apple scab and premature leaf loss is also recorded. The use of chemical agents is only conditionally recommended for crops. However, preventive measures against an infestation are quickly taken:
- Make the clearing cut regularly.
- Remove dead leaves.
- Keep the planting distance.
Alternatively, scab-resistant columnar apple varieties are also available in stores. These include, for example: Goldlane, Greencats, Moonlight, Pomgold and Rondo
The “real powdery mildew” does not stop at apple trees either. A flour-like, white layer forms on the surface of infected plants. If the apple powdery mildew is not combated, the amount of fruit will suffer noticeably. Cut off infected shoots and leaves completely in order to curb further spread of the “Podosphaera leucotricha” fungus.
If possible, the entire columnar apple should also be isolated to avoid infecting healthy plants.
Apple blossom picker
This weevil, around 4 millimeters in size, causes great damage to the apple blossom. A visible feature of the infestation is expressed by a large number of dried up flower buds, of which the larvae of the pest have completely hollowed out the inside. There are no effective insecticides against the apple blossom stick and its voracious offspring. Collect all visible animals and destroy them in order to noticeably reduce the population on your fruit plants.
These plant lice are probably one of the best-known pests in the home garden. The sucking insect is not very particular about its host plants and columnar apples are no exception. Through their ingestion of food – the sucking of cell sap – aphids cause lasting damage to the host plant. Affected leaves and shoots change color and slowly die off. In addition, the excretion of aphids, the honeydew, attracts ants and at the same time serves as a food basis for the fungal disease “sooty mildew”. Isolate columnar apples in pots immediately from neighboring plants and use tried and tested measures:
- Spray with a brew of nettles.
- Wash off with soapy water for several days.
- Use natural predators.
Some species of aphids are also sensitive to various herb plants. For example, you can cultivate thyme, sage, savory or hyssop in the immediate vicinity of the apple tree.
moth The offspring of these moths eat their way through the apples of the plant. Infested fruits have large feeding tunnels, which are caused by the caterpillars. Codling moth, also often referred to as maggot, are difficult to control. Use special pheromone traps and collect recognizable animals and dolls in good time. From June you can wrap a strip of 15 centimeters of corrugated cardboard around the trunk, under which the larvae can collect and are therefore easier to remove. Alternatively, you can also use wormwood and nettle manure, but the columnar apple must be hosed down continuously and over a longer period of time.
Column apples are very easy to cultivate and, thanks to their compact growth, they can also be kept in a space-saving manner. Even if you only have a balcony or a small garden, with this plant you don’t have to go without your own apple harvest.