There are 2,500 varieties of apple trees in the US but, sadly, most of us don’t have room to grow that many. If you have space to plant even one tree, though, you can harvest several varieties of fruit–thanks to the miracle of grafting:
Photography by Marla Aufmuth, except where noted.
Above: An Apple 4n1 Multiple Graft tree from Yamaguchi’s Nursery in Cupertino, CA has Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Gala, and Fuji apples growing on a single tree. For more information and prices, visit Yamaguchi’s.
Above: There are several grafting techniques. Here’s one way to graft a new variety onto root stock: During a dormant season, split a host branch with a knife. Open the split with a screwdriver or similar tool and hold it open to Insert twigs–or scions– into the groove.
Above: How many years does it take for a new tree to begin bearing fruit? For an apple tree, from two to five years. For a sweet cherry tree, it can take from four to seven years. For other varieties, see Stark Bros.’ Years to Bear Fruit list.
Or visit someone else’s orchard. One of our favorites is Fishkill Apple Orchards: A Family Farm Goes Sustainable.
Finally, get more ideas on how to successfully plant, grow, and care for apple trees with our Apple Tree: A Field Guide.
Interested in other types of trees? Get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various trees (specimen, deciduous, evergreen) with our Trees: A Field Guide.
Interested in other edible plants for your garden? Get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various edible plants (including flowers, herbs and vegetables) with our Edible Plants: A Field Guide.
N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published August 30, 2012.