When it comes to grocery store varieties, "Honeycrisp" (Malus pumila "Honeycrisp") and "Pink Lady" (Malus pumila "Pink Lady") have become top sellers in recent years. Consumers appreciate their sweet taste and crunchy, juicy texture. These two varieties can be grown at home, but with almost 50 varieties to choose from, you might find two you like even better. Consider bloom times, taste, growing conditions, disease resistance and use as you select apple varieties.
Most apple trees, including "Pink Lady" and "Honeycrisp," are self-sterile, which means you need a second tree of a different variety to pollinate the tree and produce fruit. When selecting apple trees to plant together, choose varieties that bloom at about the same time. If bloom times don't overlap, the trees won't pollinate each other. "Pink Lady" and "Honeycrisp" both bloom in mid-to-late spring, making them suitable partners for pollination.
When selecting apple varieties to plant together, you'll want to choose two that have similar growing requirements. "Honeycrisp" was developed by the University of Minnesota and bred specifically for its winter hardiness. The tree can survive temperatures to minus 40 degrees and it's hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. "Pink Lady" hails from Australia and grows best in warm climates with hot summers. This tree grows in USDA zones 5 through 8, and needs only 650 hours of chill time, or 27 days of temperatures at 40 degrees or less. If you live in USDA zones 5 through 8, you can plant the two varieties together, but Northern gardeners should substitute a more cold-hardy variety for "Pink Lady."
Diseases such as scab and fireblight can wipe out even the most carefully planned and tended home orchard. Your best bet is choosing disease-resistant varieties. "Pink Lady" is susceptible to all the major apple diseases, including fireblight, scab, apple cedar rust and mildew. You'll want to steer clear of this variety if these diseases are common in your region. "Honeycrisp" is resistant to scab, fireblight and apple cedar rust, but is somewhat susceptible to mildew and bitter pit.
Another factor to consider is how you plan to use your apples. Both "Honeycrisp" and "Pink Lady" are best used as a fresh eating apple. Under refrigeration, they'll store for three months or more. "Honeycrisp" ripens in mid-fall, while "Pink Lady" is ready for harvest in late fall. If you only want apples for fresh eating, planting the two varieties together will yield pleasing results. However, if you're hoping to make pies, applesauce or cider, consider planting a baking variety.
- Photo Credit IT Stock Free/Polka Dot/Getty Images