An apple tree is a classic, a staple of British gardens. They’re easy to grow, produce lots of fruit and they make you feel quite wholesome. What’s not to love? This variety, ‘Elstar’, is well suited to growing in pots, although it can also be planted in the ground. In a pot, it won’t grow much taller than 2 metres. A tree in the ground may reach 8 metres. Give it a sunny, sheltered spot and it will be happy.
An apple tree is an investment. You’re unlikely to get fruit the first year, but take care of them and they’ll reward you with fruit ever after. Looked after properly, your tree will produce fragrant blossom in spring and then fruit, which should be ready to eat from late October. The fruit is sweet and crisp. The best way to check if fruit is ready to pick is to hold it in the palm of your hand, lift slightly and twist. If it comes off easily, it’s ready. If it doesn’t, give it a bit longer.
Apples are grown all over the world – globally, we consume about 86 million tons per year – because they’re so adaptable to different conditions. Care is pretty simple. Keep the soil moist and make sure excess water can drain through the bottom of the pot. Feed it once per week in spring and summer.
The only other requirement is a yearly prune. In late winter, after your tree has dropped its leaves, chop off any dead or weak branches, and give it a general haircut to keep its shape neat. Ideally, cut it back by about a third. It will replace it all with healthy new growth from spring.
Did you know?
There are around 7,500 different species of apple.