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How long does it take to grow an apple tree

What to Know to Grow an Apple Tree

If you are fortunate enough to own your home and have a bit of land to work with, adding landscaping and cool backyard upgrades to your property can be a great way to up the curb appeal and really make your house a home! I just planted an apple tree myself and some of you were asking, “How Long Does It Take to Grow an Apple Tree? It’s a great question that we are diving into today.

If one of the lucky ones who does own their home, chances are, you’re considering adding flowers, and fruit trees to your yard. Perhaps you already have. Don’t get me wrong—smaller plants are amazing which is why I’m always encouraging y’all to bring easy indoor plants into your homes to liven things up—but if you can I really encourage you to plant an apple tree or some other fruit outside too! It’s so fun to watch them bloom and pick when ripe. Trust me! It’s real everyday magic.

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Fresh fruit

That takes us to today’s topic: full-size trees! More specifically, apple trees! Have you ever thought about growing your own apple tree? Nearly everyone knows these popular fruit trees, and many people love eating apples. If that sounds like you, then it might be worth looking into.

That said, growing new trees is a bit different from tending to new plants. Like little plants, you’ll need to know the best time to plant the tree(s) and the best practices if you want to achieve the best results. Don’t worry I got ya covered here. First, the most common question….

How long does it take to grow apples?

Well, the answer might disappoint you. It can take quite a while before you start seeing any fruit production. Most apple trees will product fruit in 2 years from the time of planting. But the timeframe can run from as little as one year to as long as ten.

Fortunately, the answer depends entirely on where—and how—you start growing your tree, so it’s not as bad as it seems. Don’t worry: we’ll be going into the details, tips, and tricks soon enough! Sit back, grab and amazing cocktail, and let’s learn about apple trees shall we? I’m having fun already.

Common Apple tree types

Tacos de Trompo Recipe Card

There are many different types of apples you can grow. Some—like the Pink Lady, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious apples—are some of the most well-known, whereas others like the Roxbury Russet may not be so familiar. So think about which look and type of apple you are most interested in.

It may be tempting to go with an apple tree type that you’re familiar with, but it’s worth considering different apple varieties. Different varieties will do better (or worse) in different conditions, so choose a type and taste that will flourish where you live.

How to select an apple tree

Weston Red Barn Farm Now Forager Teresa Floyd
Photo via Now Forager

Aside from choosing a compatible tree for your plant hardiness zone, you’ll also want to choose the right type of apple tree for your needs. Are you planning on using the apples to make apple pie? Apple cider? Or will you just eat them as is? Do you have enough space? Keep these things in-mind at the nursery and be sure to just ask. Have an idea of the following:

How much space do you have? This will determine the type of the tree you can purchase.

What size tree will fit the space? The size of an apple tree is determined by its roots.

Use of fruit: For fresh eating, cooking, or storing? Consider the variety of apple you’d like to grow and eat.

Flowering time and harvest. When will the tree flower? This will determine pollination–apples require a second cultivar or variety to cross-pollinate–and harvest time.

Just head to your local nursery. They should be able to give you some great recommendations that will not only flourish but fits your preferred flavor profile. Don’t forget to be able to tell them your space constraints and bring a pic. I think that always helps.

How long does it take to grow an apple tree

Pick Your Starting Point

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Now that you’ve decided what apple variety you want, it’s time to decide how you want to start your apple journey. How long does it take to grow apples depends on where you start from, after all! 

Starting from apple seeds will take the longest, with an average span of 8 to 10 years before you’ll see any apples. Because of this, I probably wouldn’t suggest trying to grow apple seedlings. 

You certainly can and it can be a really fun task, but there is risk that if you start growing an apple tree seedling: there’s no guarantee that the mature apple tree that will grow good apples.

These days, most apple trees are grown through a process called “grafting.” This involves combining the root system from one tree—the “rootstock”—and the shoot from a second tree —the “scion”—together to grow a new tree. In other words, no seeds are involved.

Instead, I suggest a different starting point…

Buying a Tree

Instead of growing one, why not just buy one instead? Trees are offered as bare root, balled-and-burlap, and in-container. Both bare root and balled-and-burlap trees are best planted in the spring. In-container trees can be planted at any point during the growing season. Of course, young apple trees won’t stay small forever. 

Even if you buy a mature plant, there’s a pretty good likelihood that it will continue to grow. It’s helpful to know how big your young trees might grow. Thankfully, apple trees can be categorized into one of three sizes:

dwarf apple trees’

semi-dwarf trees

and standard apple trees.

A dwarf fruit tree will grow up to 10 feet tall, whereas a semi-dwarf tree can grow up to 15. Standard trees generally top out around 20 feet, but some can exceed thirty feet in height! Just like with houseplants, you’ll definitely want to consider the final size of your tree to ensure you have enough space left over in the future.

Dwarf trees can be planted 4-8 feet apart, while full-sized trees should be planted 15-20 feet apart. 

Finding the Right Area

The best way to ensure that your new plants grow into healthy full-sized trees is by ensuring you plant them in the right area. Your choice of location is another thing that can change the answer to the question “how long does it take to grow apples?”. If you choose the wrong place, the answer could be never!

Apple trees need a place with well-drained soil, preferably with a pH level between 5.8 and 7 (you can find the pH of the soil using this soil pH meter here). They can grow in sandy soils and clay soils, although a loose soil that falls somewhere in the middle is generally best. 

These trees also require a space with full sun throughout the day. For these reasons, in the middle of a large, open space is ideal.

Beyond finding a well-draining area that fits within the preferred pH range, it’s also important that the tree has space to grow. Since apple trees need cross-pollination to bear fruit—and I’m assuming you want fruit-bearing trees—you won’t just need space for one tree: you’ll need space for two!

Although some trees are self-pollinating, most apple trees will require a partner tree of a different variety before they can bear fruit. Since both of these trees will obviously grow bigger with time, it’s important that you plant them in a place that can support new growth for years to come.

When to Plant Your Trees

How long does it take to grow apples

Timing is super important. How long does it take to grow apples if you plant them in the late winter? Well, it doesn’t, because they won’t grow! You also don’t want to plant them in the late summer, as they’ll surely die during the winter.

The best time to plant your apple tree varies by region but generally falls sometime in early spring. March and April are using the go-to months for apple trees. Still, you should always make sure that the temperatures won’t dip below 0° anytime soon before planting.

Distracting Decorations

It’s not a guarantee, but one issue you might run into is birds eating your apples. Fortunately, I have a solution: a bird feeder

You’ll want to place this close enough to the trees so that the birds will notice it, but not on the tree itself. After all, that would only encourage more visitors to your precious tree. 

You can lure most birds away with the feeder above, but if your unwanted visitors are a little bit smaller, you might try this hummingbird feeder instead!

Commonly asked questions about how long it takes to grow apples

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How long does it take to grow apple from seed?

Sadly, quite a while. If you’re starting with seeds, you can expect it to take at least 90 days before your seeds start to sprout. 

From there, you’ll have to pot, repot, and then plant the sprout into the ground. Eventually—after many years—it will become a full-size tree, complete with beautiful blossoming and tasty fruit.

If you’re looking for something that makes a visual impact quickly, you’re much better off going with a faux plant like this Monstera. Of course, you can always get a living Monstera too (check out my post on these in-home beauties!).

How long does it take for an apple tree to produce fruit?

Standard trees can take up to 8 years from when they’ve been planted before they start producing fruit. Dwarf trees, however, generally only take 2-3 years.

Is apple tree hard to grow?

Apple trees are considered pretty difficult to grow. Not only is there the possibility that they will struggle to grow or catch a fungal disease, but there’s also a chance that they will fall victim to worms and other pests.

Growing an apple tree is extremely rewarding! However, if you’d rather not deal with all the headaches, the Ficus Audrey is an easier, indoor alternative.

Do you need 2 apple trees to produce fruit?

Generally, you will need two apple trees of different varieties if you want them to cross-pollinate. Some apple trees are self-pollinating; most are not.

Can you plant apple seeds straight from an apple?

No, there’s a bit of prep you must do first. You’ll first need to get the seed and paper towels. Dampen each paper towel, place them around the seed(s), and then place everything in an airtight container in the fridge. Continue to check back and ensure the paper towels are damp. After a minimum of six weeks, you’ll notice the seeds start to germinate. At this point, then can be planted!

Apple Trees and Ideas

How long does it take to grow an apple tree

How long does it take to grow apples? Well, as we’ve learned, it takes a bit of time and effort before you’ll have a full size apple tree. Still, once the tree has matured enough to blossom and produce fruit, you’ll be glad you hung in there! 

Personally, I love looking at apple trees, especially at night. With these solar lights placed near the trees, you’ll still be able to admire them, night or day! This is beautiful all year, but especially so when they’re blooming. 

You guys know that I’m a huge fan of natural beauty, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add to the scene a bit. I think placing this water fountain (paired with this solar fountain pump) in-between two blossoming apple trees would make for an absolutely breathtaking scene. Sadly, I haven’t had the chance to try this yet, but maybe one day!

Did y’all learn anything new? Were you discouraged from your dreams of growing your own apple orchard, or perhaps you were even more inspired? I hope it was the latter, but let me know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading (there’s more to come soon!).

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