Who grows columnar apples?

jennbenn(z7b)February 17, 2006

I really like the idea of these in pots around my kitchen/potager garden. I see 4 in pots around the corners of my new kitchen garden. I have found a miniature peach and nectarine tree as well. However, I found in one place or another that the apples are not the best tasting.. is that true? I am working in a very small space and want to maximize all the space that I can so this is why I am looking at these trees. What do you think? Are these apples worthwhile or not too good. TIA~


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mrtoad(7b NC)

i have two espalier apples - they are stark's "maypole flowering crab" - will grow in an 18 inch pot - the spring flowering is simply beautiful

worked well for me

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 11:32AM
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I have three columnar apple trees, "Scarlet Sentinel", "Golden Sentinel" and "Northpole". These trees are called naturally dwarf and can grow to 8 to 12 feet tall. They claim all the growth is vertical with almost no branching. Trust me they do branch. Of course you can always keep them pruned. My trees have been planted in raised planter boxes for about 4years now and they do bare large fruit. I just have never tasted one as mine always end up with fall web worm and I refuse to spray and usually forget about them until I notice they are enclosed in a monster web of worms!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 12:09PM
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mrsgalihad(5 CO)

There was just recently some discussion on columnar apples on the Fruit & Orchard forum. I'll include a link.

Basically what I read over there is what you heard. The columnar types aren't the most tasty apple varieties. There is another option however. Start looking in nursery catalogs and find a few varieties that sound good and purchase them on the most dwarfing rootstock you can. Then go ahead and plant them in pots like you planned. Planting in pots stunts trees somewhat. The combination of dwarf rootstock, pots and pruning will keep your trees small.

(*disclaimer: I don't have any trees myself....yet. The above info came from research and the Fruit & Orchards forum.)

Here is a link that might be useful: columnar apples

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 3:08PM
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dayleann(z4 VT)

Many of the newer orchards in Washington state use dwarf or semi-dwarf trees supported by a line, not espaliered, but kept pruned. I used to do this in my own backyard, and will again here. The spurred varieties are best for this, as the fruit grows on slow-growing short "spurs" rather than faster growing branches, so it is easier to keep the trees confined spacially.

Summer pruning is good, as the tree then focusses on producing fruiting buds. You just don't do it all at once, just sort of through the season to keep the tree the shape and size you want it.

That way you can have just about any cultivar you want, pot it, and use a support to train it to.

Dayle Ann

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 7:40PM
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Thank you everyone for your imput. Mr. Toad, the crabapples sound wonderful.. very pretty! I can see some of those placed about. Prariestar55, its good to know that your columnars grew and actually produced fruit, thats encouraging even if you never got to eat it! Just to know it really works.. Mrs. Galihad, I read the link and it's helpful. I just don't want trees that get to big, but taste and health are important, of course its true that the pot does restrict growth. I would just hope it would not hurt production! I need to see what the best place to purchase fruit and berries are! Any ideas?
Dayleann, thank you as well. I tried to research "spurr" varieties, and I think I found one that stated it was so. I think it was Anne or Anna found that on Johnson Nursery Website. Would you happen to know of a site that addresses this? Also, when you say a line for support ~ where would you put your line? Behind the pot, inside, beside? Just can't picture that.
Thank you again everyone, I appreciate your responses, and I hope to give a few apples a try!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 9:06AM
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dayleann(z4 VT)

I guess I wasn't very clear-- orchards have a lot of trees, so they run lines to tie the trees to. Dwarf trees need some support, but for a single tree, a discreet stake will do fine, or even a narrow decorative trellis.

About spurs: some cultivars of apples and pears produce on spurs, which are short twiggy growths. Other cultivars tend to fruit on the longer growing branches. Fruit buds on all of them will be on last year's growth, it's just that the spurs will grow only a quarter inch or so, so stays very compact. Pruning helps keep the spurs close in. With non-spur cultivars, the fruit tends get further and further from the trunk each year without pruning, which has to be carefully done to keep from removing too much of the fruiting wood.

The link below gives a brief description of spur type apples, and lists a lot of available cultivars with their characteristics, including whether they are a spur type or not.

Spur cultivars are readily available, and several nurseries have developed especially good spur cultivars-- Stark Bros, Raintree, and Miller are some sources that I'm aware of. Others carry them too, just look in the description or ask. I'd only buy fruit trees from a nursery that specializes in them, or in trees or fruits in general.

And don't forget you need two for pollination, unless there is another apple tree nearby! Make sure their bloom times overlap. I learned that one the hard way, and had to buy a third tree that overlapped the bloom times of the two I had!

Dayle Ann

Here is a link that might be useful: All About Apples

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 10:04AM
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I have ten columnar apples; since I live in Sunset Zone 17, chilling is borderline here, so they don't always get the chilling they need. Mine are less for fruit and more to screen between our yard and the neighbors. But they do bear when they get enough chill. Flowers are beautiful, and I leave the branches.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 4:35AM
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OK. Scarlet sentinel and Golden sentinel actually taste pretty good - although a bit sweet for my tastes. They make a good screen between us and the neighbor from way down south where it is excessively hot and sulfurous - he built his deck three feet from the property line, overlooking our entire backyard and sits out there, spits at us, and calls us dirty names. (We called animal control when I got tired of exercising his Rottweiler by running from it as it attempted to eat me.)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 12:00AM
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