Calling all writers, especially those who wax poetic! If you have a way with words, here's your chance to put pen to paper and try your hand at writing an award-winning piece for us. Find all the details on our contest page.

Dwarf apple tree advice?

Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

Not sure what category to place this on exactly since the reorganizing of the website, so i do apologize if posting it here is incorrect.

I purchased a multi variety grafted dwarf apple tree and planted it in spring of last year, and things were going great at first (photos 1 and 2), that is until the deer took notice of it, and they started chewing the branches closer and closer to the main stem. So in order to save it i had no other choice but wait until a rainy day when the ground was soft, and dig it back out, and plant it into a jumbo sized container (photo 3), and it seemed to accept it and start growing again towards the autumn, and held onto its leaves well into december (mild winter), which is photo #4

Thumbnail by jmc1987 Thumbnail by jmc1987 Thumbnail by jmc1987 Thumbnail by jmc1987
Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

Here is where my question comes in, now that winter is finally set in here in full force and the leaves are all gone, and i can clearly see the branches, do i need to do any pruning on it? I have heard of fruit trees growing "suckers" and "Water sprouts", and im not too talented at identifying these yet. Im also wondering if i should even prune at all given the stresses that the plant endured via the deer and being transplanted? Im including some close ups of the main stem to hopefully show where some of the graft points are, and if there are things that need to be pruned out (given that it should be pruned at all), for you to point them out to me.

Thumbnail by jmc1987 Thumbnail by jmc1987 Thumbnail by jmc1987
Port Republic, NJ

Hi JMC,
I have also had my trees meet the scourge that is deer. Sadly it was after spring pruning, right when flowers were set in. Sadly this has let to disfigured trees and no fruit so I am in the same boat. After some reading I have found more people say to let your tree go rogue (no pruning) for the first year or two that it is in the ground and to thin any fruit anyhow. This gives your whip the chance to establish itself as a healthy tree before you start to mold it. Given that I am no expert and this is from reading so do with it what you will and good luck.
As a side note I would be sure to thin any fruit from branches that are prone to splitting under the weight of fruit anyhow.

Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

Thanks for responding back. I do notice that it has produced an abundance of buds all over its main stem and branches, so that tells me that it will be raring to go once spring comes back around, and i think i will keep it permanently potted, i have seen many photos of dwarf fruit trees grown this way. I will say that when i dug it back out of the ground on that wet day, i started to pull up on it after loosening up the soil and all of the roots came right out quickly and clean looking, if any root breaks happened, it appeared that it was more then likely just hair roots.

The deer are afraid to come up onto the back deck, so i will just leave it in its jumbo sized pot, and on the deck will be where it stays. And will give it a generous feeding in the spring

This message was edited Feb 15, 2016 12:13 PM

Lynnwood, WA

Hi Jmc Is your rootstock M7, M26, or M9? Are the 'lesions' on the trunk a result of the deer damage? If your tree had not been pruned by the deer, it would have been good to prune the first year and every year after. Apple trees are generally precocious growers and need to be steered in the right direction. Ultimately, the tree will be easier to get consistent yields and manage if you can get it in the ground. If it is a true dwarf you will need to stake it for life, or it will pull itself out of the grown from the fruit weight alone. I would remove the flowers or fruit for the first two years. If you are looking for good quality fruit thereafter, you can thin the flowers to the only allow the king blossom( should really be the queen blossom and is generally larger than the others in the cluster) to remain. This will result in larger and better quality fruit.

As for the suckers and water sprouts, you have none. Suckers will generally form around the base or from the roots as the tree develops and/or encounters stress. In either case, when you see a sucker, you want to remove it asap because they can be vigorous and outgrow the desired varieties that you have grafted up above. Water sprouts normally result from hard pruning in winter, however, they can be thinned to select good healthy branches that could later become fruiting branches. As for pruning, you want to wait until day and night temperatures are above 20 degrees f in order to avoid freeze damage in the areas of the new cuts.

I found this link that you may find useful for your growing needs
https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/422/422-023/422-023_pdf.pdf

Good luck, I love growing fruit and most of my trees are M 27 rootstock and 1 -M26

Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

Thanks for reminding me about this post. Im not sure of the stock type. Here is a photo of it starting to take off again last spring (you can see chives growing at the base of it), the branches are about twice as long as they are in this photo now. It will be going in the ground this growing season once i can get the fenced off garden expanded out, that way i can plant it inside of the fenced in area, otherwise i wouldnt trust the deer around here, their numbers have grown so high that they have become a menace in our area.

Thumbnail by jmc1987
Lynnwood, WA

It looks like it is coming along nicely. I would suggest that you spread the branches apart. Here is a link that could be useful for your pruning considerations

Happy Growing

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.
BACK TO TOP