Trying to grow this amazing 6-in-1 Espalier Apple Tree in a Container. It has 3 tiers with 6 varieties of apples grafted onto a central stem!
Of late we have been researching plants we can grow in containers and it has opened up a whole new world to us. We have always wanted to grow our own fruit trees but full size fruit trees can be a pain once the novelty wears off. Fortunately, this season places like Home Depot and Lowes brought in lots of miniature/dwarf fruit trees which our research shows can be successfully grown in containers. Imagine an orchard of fruit trees on your patio! It was a delicious thought! We have nothing to lose. We’ll take the chance and give it a try.
6-in-1 Espalier Apple Tree
Our first two fruit trees in containers were these Miniature Peach Trees. It is a delight to watch them grow. The peaches are getting larger by the day. We lost a few fruits, thin out others, but there are still lots of peaches on the tree. Can’t wait for them to grown even larger!
While strolling through the fruit tree section of Home Depot shortly after we purchased those miniature peach trees, we chance upon this amazing 6-in-1 Espalier Apple Tree. Initially, I thought there is just one variety of apples on the tree but upon closer inspection, the different colored tags revealed 6 different varieties on that one tree! I have always been fascinated with espalier trees and could not pass up the chance to bring this beauty home. We had the perfect spot in our backyard for it.
The 6 Different Varieties of Apples on This Tree
This tree has 3 tiers of branches on each side with 6 varieties of apples are grafted onto its central stem. Each branch has a different variety of apples on it and the fruits are already formed. There were roughly 50 to 60 fruits on the tree! Even if half of them dropped (which we knew would happen for such a small tree), we will still have around 30 apples to harvest if we are successful in growing it.
The Left Branches of this 6-in-1 Espalier Apple Tree
The left branches of this 6-in-1 Espalier Apple Tree appears to be stronger and bushier. They also have more fruits on each branch.
On the top left branch, we have deep red Cortland apples with sweet white flesh. They are good for making apple sauce, apple butter, salads, and pies. Cortland apples ripen in mid to late September.
The second branch on the left has Liberty apples. This cultivar is said to be disease resistant and cold hardy. The fruits are a bright red color with a sweet and crisp flesh. They usually ripen in mid to late October.
Yellow/Golden Delicious Apple
The lowest branch on the left bears Yellow Delicious apples, more popularly known as Golden Delicious apples. These apples are sweet and good for fresh eating and a popular choice for making apple sauce and apple butter. These ripen in mid to late September.
Yellow/Golden Delicious apples are supposed to have a yellowish/green skin. At the moment these look a little more on the red side. I can’t help but wonder if they have been mislabeled.
The Right Branches of this 6-in-1 Espalier Apple Tree
The right branches of this tree appears to be shorter and less dense. They also have less fruits.
Red McIntosh Apple
The top right branch consists of Red McIntosh apples with thick red and green skin. They have a white to pinkish flesh and are good for making apple sauce, apple juice, and apple cider. The fruits ripen in September.
Yellow Transparent Apple
The second branch on the right bears Yellow Transparent apples. This is a large, early season culinary apple originating from Russia. In Europe this variety is known as White Transparent or Glass apple on account of its slightly translucent skin. They are good for freezing, drying, and making into juice or wine. They ripen in mid June through late July.
These happen to be the largest apples on this tree but I don’t think they will be big enough and ripen any time soon.
The final and lowest branch on the right side has Fuji apples. This branch has the fewest apples on this tree. Fuji apples are light red in color with a yellow blush. Their flesh is crunchy and sweet and are great for fresh eating and for making into apple sauce. They ripen in mid to late October.
Similar Products used in this 6-in-1 Espalier Apple Tree in a Container
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Tusco CT22BK Cosmo Square Planter, Black, 22-Inch
Tusco Products MSQT23BK Modern Square Garden Planter, 23-Inch, Black
Rain Bird T22-250S Drip Irrigation 1/4″ Blank Distribution Tubing, 250′ Roll, Black
Rain Bird Drip Irrigation Spot Watering Dripper/Emitter, 2 Gallon Per Hour, 30-Pack
Potting This 6-in-1 Espalier Apple Tree
As I had mentioned earlier, we have one spot against the siding of our house in the backyard for this tree. The frame is bolted to the siding to prevent it from toppling over. Since it is along a path, it cannot be planted in the ground. As such I chose a really big and deep squarish container for it to grow. The straight side of the container also allows it to be flush against the siding.
This time we put in irrigation tubing connected to our garden sprinkler system so that it can be watered regularly when the sprinklers come on. A tube was passed through the drainage hole at the base of the container before it was filled with dirt. We placed 4 in-line drips and a shut-off valve so that we can better control the amount of water going into this container. Hopefully, this will keep the tree consistently watered and make life a little easier for us.
Pruning This 6-in-1 Espalier Apple Tree
Finally, after checking many videos and write-ups on pruning an espalier apple tree, it appears that this little tree needs to grow a little more before pruning. However, I have a limited space for it and the branches are growing beyond the wooden frame. As such, I decided to go ahead and do some light pruning. I was careful not to cut off the short and stubby fruiting spurs. On this tree it was easy to identify because there are fruits on it. I pruned off the longer branch growth at the ends to keep the branches compact.
We will most likely extend the length of the horizontal sticks on the frame once the apples are harvested in the fall.
I hope we will have a successful apple crop this fall and will update this post with pictures later in the season. We have other fruit trees in our patio orchard I wish to share with you. Please check back in a couple days or so for our other fruit trees. 🙂
A Word About Dwarf and Grafted Fruit Trees
Many people have misconceptions about dwarf and grafted fruit trees. These trees are not chemically or genetically modified and are natural. Many are grafted onto healthy root stock and carefully kept small through centuries of horticultural tradition. Others are hybridized where they are cross pollinated by man or insects. These trees produce the same size and quality of fruit, just less of them because the trees are smaller. You can read more in the following pages.
Update : July 28, 2019
Yellow Transparent are early season apples. By the end of July, they are ready for harvesting. There were only 3 of these apples on this branch and so we harvested one to make sure that it is ripe. Three days later, we harvested the remaining 2.
Update : August 29, 2019
One month went by since our last update. The apples are growing bigger and heavier by the day on the left side. We had to prop up the frame on the left side with a stake in the ground.
The Courtland apples are getting bigger, prettier, and juicier and so are the Liberty apples in the branch below but we are still not ready to harvest them yet.
This amazing bunch of Yellow Delicious apples are a joy to behold! There are over 30 apples on all three branches on this side of the tree.
Update : September 18, 2019
It is time to harvest some apples before the birds get them!
Update : October 3rd, 2019
Here are the last of the apples. We are blessed to have around 50 apples from this compact little tree in the first year of planting and six varieties to boot! We started out with over 60 little apples but unfortunately, quite a few dropped over the summer. I made an Apple Crisp with some of these apples to share with our neighbor.
This 6-in-1 Espalier Apple Tree is “The Little Tree That Could”. Now, it is time for it to have a good rest.
Update : March 10, 2020
To protect the apple tree from frost and snow, Ro-Ri San wrapped the tree with reed mats. We found these reed mats at The Home Depot. He also wrapped the pot with bubble wrap to protect the roots from root ball freeze. This was done just before the first frost in October 2019.
In the spring of 2020 when I took this picture, we could see that the apple tree has lots of beautiful flower buds which should give us lots of apples.
Update : July 28, 2020
Unfortunately, in mid April, we were hit by a late snow storm which killed all the flower buds. By that time we had removed the reed mat and bubble wrap. We tried to put the reed mat back but the flowers have blossomed and were no longer in bud form. We lost all the flowers. No apples for 2020. 🙁
By early July, the tree was very untidy with lots of leaves and new branches. It needed pruning. I carefully pruned the tree in late July and tied the branches to the frame to keep it tidy. Hopefully, we will have apples next year.