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Q

Can you plant ONE apple tree and get fruit? Everyone says you have to plant two different varieties, but I only have room for one tree.

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A

It's true that most apple varieties need to cross-pollinate for good fruit set. There are a few cultivars that are self-fruitful. If the label or catalog description doesn't mention that the tree is self-fruitful or self-pollinating, plant another cultivar to be sure you have good fruit set.

You can find a chart that lists several apple varieties and which other varieties they will successfully cross-pollinate with at:

http://extension.missouri.edu/explore/agguides/hort/g06001.htm

Most tree fruit catalogs suggest pollinator varieties or show a table with compatible pollinator varieties listed.

If you have room for only one tree, you could buy an apple tree that has a different variety grafted onto it for pollination. Crabapple trees may suffice if they are close enough. Or you can find a friend with a pollinator cultivar blooming at the same time as your apple tree, cut out a branch, and hang it in your tree in a container of water (to keep the flowers fresh longer). If bees are active that day, this may provide enough different pollen for good fruit set.

Good gardening!

Posted on 4 Apr 2007

Maggie Wolf
Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

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