How to Transplant Apple Trees

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Fresh apples, baked apples, apple pie, apple stuffing, Waldorf Salad---the rewards of growing apples are as endless as your imagination. Fresh or cooked, spiced or sweet, the apple is a perfect food---delicious, nutritious and versatile. Apple trees are easy to care for but call for specific growing conditions that must be planned before starting the transplant process.

Things You'll Need

  • Hose
  • Heavy shovel

Transplant Preparation

  • Plan to transplant your apple tree during the fall. Choose a high spot where the drainage and air circulation are good, and where your tree will receive lots of direct sunlight. Early morning sun is especially important, as it dries the dew from the leaves, which helps prevent disease.

  • Dig up a cup of soil from your chosen spot and take it to your local extension center to have it analyzed. The staff can tell you if the soil is lacking in particular nutrients, how to remedy the situation and how to alter the pH to the optimum level for apple trees (between 6.0 and 6.5).

  • Dig a hole about four feet in diameter and a foot deeper than the size of the root system. Your objective is to have the root system meet the trunk a couple of inches above the soil line. This will deter crown rot.

    Loosen the soil in the hole so that the tree's roots can spread easily. Mix compost or peat moss into the soil and add any nutrients the extension center suggests.

  • Prune damaged or broken branches before digging up your apple tree for the transplant.

Transplanting the Tree

  • Dig a circle about five feet in diameter around the tree to remove it from its current location. Water and cover the roots right away. If the roots become dry, the tree will die. Soak the tree's roots in water just before planting it in its new location.

  • Place the tree in the hole and spread out the roots. Begin adding soil on and around the roots, pressing firmly as you go. Place a hose in the hole to fill air holes as you add the dirt.

  • Water thoroughly when planting is complete. Mulch the tree to a depth of five to six inches.

Tips & Warnings

  • Water your transplanted apple tree thoroughly each week. Keep weeds and grass away from the base of your apple tree to avoid competition for water and nutrients.

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