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How Long Do Apple Trees Take To Grow (and Bear Fruit)?

I have a new Fuji apple tree and I was wondering how long it would take to reach a mature size and fruit. The only problem was, there really wasn’t a clear answer out there. So, I did some research to find out more. Here’s what I found.

Apple trees grown from seed can take 5-10 years to grow and fruit, while apple trees grown from a graft take 1-3 years. This is because grafted apple trees use wood from a mature apple tree and don’t need to age to provide fruit. Still, the growth and fruiting depend on the health of the tree.

So, while apple trees can take 1-10 years (or more) to grow and fruit, how do you know how long your apple tree will take to grow, and how can you make it grow faster? Let’s take a closer look.

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How Long Does It Take an Apple Tree To Grow and Fruit?

Growth Stages for Apple TreesDescription
1. DormancyWhen apple tree growth slows over winter. The tree has little to no leaves.
2. Silver TipThe fruit bud scales are separated at the tip of the bud, exposing light gray or silver tissue.
3. Green TipThe buds are broken at the tip and 1/16-inch of green tissue is visible.
4. Half-Inch Green1/2-inch of green leaf tissue emerging out of their fruit buds.
5. Tight ClusterBlossom buds are mostly exposed and tightly grouped with short stems.
6. Pink (Open) ClusterAll of the buds in the blossom cluster are pink and have lengthened stems.
7. BloomThe period when just the first bloom in each cluster is open to full bloom (when all or most blossom buds are open.)
8. Post-BloomWhen 3/4 or more of the tree’s petals have fallen.

Apple trees take 1-10 years to grow and fruit, with grafted trees typically taking around 1 year. Most apple tree growers use grafted trees due to their benefits and speed of growth. However, there’s no guarantee of fruit. Depending on the apple tree’s genetics and health, some might never provide fruit.

The first step in determining how long your apple tree will take to grow is to check to see if it was grown from a graft or grown from seed.

But first, what is grafting?

grafting an apple tree

Grafting is when you take a piece of wood (called a scion) from a mature apple tree and fuse it with a rootstock from another apple tree. If all goes well, the rootstock should adopt the scion, supporting it and feeding it water and nutrients.

The main benefits of grafting are:

  • Faster growth
  • Fruit is identical to the mature tree
  • Increased disease and pest resistance
  • Improved hardiness

Usually, you can tell that an apple tree was grafted if it has a scar or larger node on the site where it was grafted (see image below). If you can’t tell if your tree was grafted or not, then it’s best to contact the seller, nursery, or orchard you purchased the tree from. You can also try your local cooperative extensive service.

an apple tree that was grafted
An apple tree with a scar from the graft.

So, once you find out if your apple tree is grown from seed or graft, you should get a clear answer on how much longer you’ll need to wait to get fruit.

However, if it’s been 7-10 years, and your apple tree isn’t yet producing fruit, it likely will never fruit. This is especially true for those that were grown from seed.

While this can be discouraging, the best thing to do in this case is to purchase a young, grafted apple tree and only wait 1-3 more years for an abundance of fruits! Young apple trees typically cost around $46, so they’re not too expensive. For additional trees, you can always start grafts from that single tree.

Do You Need 2 Apple Trees To Bear Fruit?

While many apple trees are self-pollinating, it’s a best practice to have at least 2 apple trees within 50 feet of each other. This will increase the chance of cross-pollination which leads to more and bigger fruit, even for self-pollinating trees.

You can increase your apple tree’s pollination even more by planting pollinator-friendly companion plants nearby. For more about companion plants for apple trees, you can check out my recent post: The 10 Best Companion Plants for Apple Trees.

Additionally, while an apple tree’s growth isn’t too aggressive, there are times when its roots can cause damage. Because of this, keep them at least 25 feet away from other trees and structures to avoid root competition and damage.

5 Tips To Make Apple Trees Grow and Fruit Faster

  1. Provide compost and mulch: Apply a 2-inch layer of both compost and mulch to your apple trees. Compost helps the soil retain water while mulch greatly reduces evaporation. Both are great practices for any apple tree, especially those in warmer or drier weather. Reapply compost every 1-2 months and mulch every 3-6 months. Some good mulches for apple trees are leaves, bark, straw, pine needles, and grass clippings.
  2. Supply 8+ hours of sunlight: Like most fruiting plants, apple trees need a sufficient amount of sunlight to grow and fruit properly. Sunlight is converted into sugars through photosynthesis in the leaves. Without enough sugar and energy, apple trees will lack foliage and fruit. Apple trees grow best in USDA hardiness zones 3-9 and trees that face a southern direction will get the most amount of sun.
  3. Water only when the top 2-4 inches of soil is dry: While many factors contribute to how much water an apple tree needs, the best rule is to only water when the top of the soil gets dry. This way you’re not over or under-watering. If the soil is still sopping wet 1 or more hours after watering, the soil likely needs to be amended for better drainage.
  4. Avoid planting near junipers or cedars: Apple trees can get a highly contagious fungal disease from juniper and cedar trees. For this reason, plant apple trees at least 1000 feet away from juniper and cedar trees and remove any weeds in a 6-foot radius around the apple tree. For more information on Cedar Apple Rust, check out my recent post: How to Fix Yellow Leaves on Apple Trees.
  5. Prune any leaves that look scorched or spotted: Apple trees can get many conditions and diseases, and one of the best ways to prevent them from spreading is to prune the diseased leaves. For example, Fire Blight is a bacterial disease that has the appearance of brown and scorched leaves and commonly affects apple and pear trees. While there isn’t a cure for it, there are many treatments and practices to prevent it.

Hopefully, these tips help!

However, if you’re still having trouble with your apple tree fruiting, and you’d like some more specific information for how to boost its fruit production, you can also visit my recent post: Apple Trees Not Fruiting? Here Are the Top 5 Reasons.