Growing Apples at the Allotment

Growing Apples at the Allotment

How to Grow Apples: A Detailed Guide

Growing apples is a firm favourite and are easy to grow. They come in a wide range of varieties but there are two main types - eating apples and cooking apples, which are what they say they are! While possible, it is of popular opinion that growing apples from seed takes too long. 

If you want to join our online community, connect with likeminded growers and share your apple tree growing journey with us, sign up here!

When to Grow Apples

Knowing how to grow apples successfully involves understanding the right planting time. Bare-root apple trees can be planted from November through to March when the tree is dormant and provided the ground is not too frozen to dig. On the other hand, if you are considering container-grown apple trees, they can be planted year-round. However, the best time is still during the dormant season as it reduces stress on the tree. 

Where to Grow Apples

Your chosen location for your apple tree should not shade other crops -, remember that they can grow very tall and wide! You may want to train your tree using supports or wiring. It is also possible to plant your apple tree in a large container if you want a more temporary solution.

How to Plant Apple Trees

Prepare the planting spot for your apple tree in advance, at least a few weeks before planting. Clear the weeds, add well-rotted organic matter into the soil, and ensure the site has good drainage. You will need to dig a hole as deep as the roots in a sunny spot avoiding very wet soil and allowing for roots to spread out in parameter. 

How to Take Care of an Apple Tree

If you’re unsure how to grow apples or are a beginner gardener, it's important to understand the time and effort that goes into it. Provide proper care often equates to the best results.

During spring, feed your apple tree with fertiliser that is rich in potassium, Cooking apple varieties are generally hungrier, so be generous. 

Apple tree pruning should be done to encourage regrowth, but when to do this will depend on your variety and when it was planted. Generally, as a guide this is done in early spring but some you can do throughout the winter. Pruning helps the apple tree to produce a good crop, stay in good shape and allow air and sun to it. 

Watering your apple tree is required throughout dry spells and when the fruit begins particularly for younger trees. Mature apple trees are usually more resilient.

The Different Ways to Use Apples 

Besides enjoying them on their own, these versatile fruits can be used in many ways. 

  • Apples can be used in a variety of salads and coleslaw, adding a sweet crunch. 
  • You can make delicious apple pies, tarts, gazettes and other desserts.
  • When you have an abundant harvest, you can even make apple jam or sauce to enjoy year-round. 
  • On a hot summer’s day, apples can make a refreshing glass of juice.

These are just a few options. Check out all of our recipes here!



apple blossom 1368187_1920
apples 1872997_1920
apples 3535566_1920
apple 2720105_1920

When and How to Harvest Apples

During the summer and into autumn your apple tree will be laden with fruit, some will naturally fall off if they are not picked. For optimal health you should look out for and pick off deformed and smaller fruit to allow room for larger, healthier apples. 

Apples will pull off easily if they are ready and ripened, but not so easily if they are not ready. If you are unsure whether they are ready, one way of finding out is if the pips are brown inside. You should use fallen and bruised apples straight away. 

How to Store Apples

Besides learning how to grow apples, you must also understand how to store them to enjoy them throughout the year. Ideally, you need to store the apples in single layers where possible, inspecting your crop for any issues before contaminating your crop. Some varieties can last for months if they are stored correctly. They should not be touching and are best wrapped in some tissue paper or similar and kept in a cool place.  

There are so many different varieties that you will need to check for your specific variety for the best apple planting, pruning, harvesting and storing solutions and when to do it. 

Growing Apples in the UK: A Summary

Planting Apples

  • Plant bareroot trees during winter - early Spring
  • Offer a sunny, well drained spot
  • Add support/training

Popular Apple Varieties in the UK

  • M. Domestica - 'Scrumptious' is a mid-season dessert red apple and is a self-fertile, disease resistant good pollinator and produces heavy crops of red apples, even on young trees
  • M. Domestica - 'Discovery' is an early fruiting deciduous variety with bright crimson coloured fruits. Covered in white flowers throughout spring, followed by crisp, juicy dessert apples. 
  • M.Domestica - 'Howgate Wonder' does best in cooler but drier parts of the country. The fruit is very large, often enormous, with yellowish-green skin striped and flushed with brownish-red

Exploring different varieties is part of the learning process. Share your apple variety here and update us on how your growing journey is going!

Growing Apples

  • Add potassium rich fertiliser
  • Prune your trees to encourage re-growth
  • Water young trees during dry spells

Rootstocks for Apples

  • M27 is an ideal choice for a smaller garden or container growing. A plentiful yield, even during the first year. Expect approximately 20lbs per tree
  • M9 is a good dwarfing rootstock, ideal for cordon growing and you can expect approximately 30lbs yield per tree.
  • M26 is great in lighter soils and is easily managed with excellent yields once it is established

Harvesting Apples

  • Use fallen apples straight away
  • Pick when easily pulled, regularly
  • Store undamaged apples in single layers, without contact in a cool place

Common Problems with Apples

  • Aphids/greenfly - Can be whitefly, rosy apple aphid, greenfly and woolly aphid
  • Apple Scab - A funghal disease that affects both the leaves and fruit with brown and black spots; espeically in wet conditions
  • Canker - Affects the branches and trunks with lesions, particularly in wet conditions


Sign Up for Our Newsletter or Become A Member Today! 

Here at Allotment Online, we are a happy and growing community of allotment growers. We are here to support and guide you at every stage of your allotment journey, whether you're just starting or have years of experience. 

We want to hear your apple tree growing tips, so sign up here and share your story on our blog page!

We offer valuable resources, tips, and guidance to help you succeed in your gardening journey. Whether you are wondering how to grow apples, grapes, tomatoes or anything else, we will help you out!