Flowerdale Nursery 
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  Flowerdale Nursery & Landscaping

Apples are in the rose family (Roseaceae) they are rightly classified as a deciduous fruit tree losing their foliage each winter. Apples need winter cold to set fruit properly. This could be a problem in our mild Orange County gardens so providing winter chill is a concern.  Selecting a variety that has a low chill requirement (400 hours or less) is crucial to obtaining a quality apple crop here.  Some apples require a pollinator (another apple tree) in order to yield high amounts of fruit.  Apples are somewhat slow growing & respond well to pruning & shaping. They are easily trained to grow in small spaces.  Apples come from inland areas of Europe & Central Asia.  Most, if not all, quality apples are grafted to increase tolerance to diseases & widen the range of growing conditions & increase their resistance to pest & diseases.  Apples do poorly in containers. Prune when the foliage has fallen off the tree. Many Apples (if not all orchard quality trees) are grafted. Varieties that produce choice fruit are grafted onto rootstocks that are resistant to disease.

What Apples Like

Exposure:  Apples prefer to grow in full sun for at least 6 hours a day.   They can tolerate windy conditions. However, they do not respond well to being planted in overly hot situations & they dislike coastal gardens.  The colder the winters the better for inducing a quality crop in Orange County.

 Soil:  Apples grow best in loamy soils. Amending the soil with Bumper Crop organic soil builder once or twice a year in a layer 2 to 8 inches thick works best.  These trees do poorly in heavy poorly drained saline soils.

Irrigation:  Apples require infrequent deep irrigation (about once a week to once every two weeks) only during active growth. In the winter (October through February) irrigate once a month only if rains fail.

Diet: Feeding Apple trees once a season (or once every three months) provides evenly spaced feedings that will sustain growth. Fertilize with organic granular fertilizers.  We recommend Dr. Earth Organic Fruit Tree Fertilizer.  Apple trees respond well to compost mulches, the more compost you add the less fertilizer you will need.

Pruning:  Apples must be trained so that they conform to an architecture that promotes health & vigor. We want a tree with an open structure with a dense canopy of foliage but an uncluttered crown of branches. Remove all dead & crossing branches whenever noticed. Protect the graft union & remove any suckers that sprout below it.  It’s best to prune apple trees when the foliage is absent during the winter. Also it is advised to keep apple trees shorter than 15 feet to make harvesting easier.


Harvesting:  Harvest fruit when they have achieved their “full color”. Apples have some ability to further ripen once picked off the tree, however they are best picked ripe. Apple trees may produce poorly if the flowers are damaged while in bloom. The fruit should be easily removed from the stem when ripe. Thinning the fruit by 30% can increase the size of the remaining fruit.

Varieties (all are low chill )

Anna Large, light green yellow skin with slight red blush. Sweet, slightly tart, crisp, creamy white flesh. From Israel especially suited for Orange County. Ripens: Late June.

Beverly Hills Medium, yellow with red strips. Crisp & juicy, bears well in mild climate such as Orange County. Ripens: Late June.

Dorsett Golden Medium to large, yellow skin with orange-red blush. Firm, smooth, crisp flesh with sweet-tart flavor. Great for Orange County. Ripens: Mid-June to Early July.

Ein Shemer Large, Golden delicious type, with crisp, tart, good quality flesh. Low chill from Israel, bears young & very productive. Ripens: Mid-June to Early July.

Fuji Medium, reddish-green color, firm, crunchy, juicy, white flesh with excellent flavor. Ripens: September.

Gordon Medium to large. Skin green overlaid with bright red. Firm, crisp, fine texture, juicy, sweet-tart, good flavored, white flesh. Very heavy production. Ripens: Mid-August to Mid-October.

Granny Smith Large. Skin bright green, flesh is firm and sweet. Ripens: August to September.

Pettingill Large, round, deep red skin with yellow strips. A good crisp, juicy, apple. Possibly the best red apple for low chill. Ripens: August into September.


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