Apple trees in the tropical south were almost nonexistent up until 30 years ago . Like peaches, nectarines and plums, apples trees need a certain amount of winter chill to set fruit. Florida’s hot, humid summers also limit us to the summer ripening varieties, as low chill fall ripeners usually rot before ripening. The first true breakthrough in apples came with the Israeli releases ANNA and EIN SHEMER apple tree varieties. The ANNA apple tree has proven itself to be one of the very best for our region. And it’s now being used in Dr. Wayne Sherman’s University of Florida breeding program, which released the TROPIC SWEET apple tree variety and hopefully many more to come. We’ve added a local seedling apple JOY and an heirloom SHELL apple tree.
Tropical apple trees are unique as the textures of the fruits are very crispy. Their flavor ranges from the sharp flavors of apples like Granny Smith, to sweet overtones, like Gala. Growing your own fruit allows you to choose varieties with the taste that best suits your personal pallet. Pick ANNA on the green side for a Granny Smith-like flavor, or allow it to ripen to a beautiful yellow for a rich, sweet, Gala-like flavor. All of these apples lend themselves well to both fresh eating or cooking.
We’re also including some local native crabapples we’ve found, that make great jellies and can be used to attract wildlife.
More Stuff to Know About Apple Trees
Yes, apple trees need cross pollination! To set a consistent crop, use one of a different variety to pollinate, or one variety can pollinate up to four trees of a different variety if set in an alternate planting pattern.
Although the central leader style of pruning is most commonly used on apples, the modified central leader style has proven best in hot, humid climates like the Deep South.
FERTILIZATION AND CULTIVATION
Apple trees prefer well-drained soils with a p.H. around 6.5 to 7, and part to full sun. Adjusting your soil to a p.H to this range releases extra calcium, preventing bitter rot on ripening fruits. A balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer is recommended. Apply one pound yearly for each year of the tree’s age until a maximum of 15 pounds per application is reached. Apply in January and June in Florida.
APPLE TREES IN THE LANDSCAPE
It’s the beauty of each changing season that always gives you something to watch with an apple tree. Billowy pink clouds of fragrant apple blossoms in spring, months of beautiful apples hanging on the trees changing from green to yellow to red, topped off with a fall color show of bright yellow.
Use the standard-sized trees for small shade trees or as accents intermingled in the shrubbery border with smaller fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, figs or pomegranates.
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ANNA APPLE TREE$32.99 Zone: 8B-9B
BIG RIVER APPLE TREE$35.99 Zone: 8B-9
CALLAWAY CRABAPPLE TREE$35.99 Zone: 5-8
DORSETT GOLDEN APPLE$32.99 Zone: 8B-10
JOY’S APPLE TREE$35.99 Zone: 8B-9A
NATIVE CRABAPPLE TREE$11.99–$22.99 Zone: 7-10Select options
SHELL APPLE TREE$35.99 Zone: 8B
SMITH APPLE$35.99 Zone: 8A-8B
TROPIC SWEET APPLE TREE$35.99 Zone: 8B-9B