How to Replant an Apple Tree for Healthy Growth

There’s nothing better than being able to grab a peach or apple from your tree right outside your back door and eat it right away.

To have a healthy tree and get good fruit production, planting your trees properly is an essential step. You may also need to move a tree to make room for changes in your yard or to find a better place for your small orchard.

If you follow this guide to moving fruit trees the right way, you’ll avoid problems in the future and enjoy fruit for years to come.

If your apple tree needs to be moved to a new location, replanting it properly is key to helping it quickly re-establish and thrive. Follow this step-by-step guide to successfully replant apple trees while minimizing transplant stress.

When to Replant Apple Trees

The best time for replanting apple trees is when they are dormant in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges. Trees replanted during active growth periods experience more stress.

Apple trees can be replanted in autumn as well after leaves drop Avoid summer transplanting at all costs,

Younger trees adapt more readily when replanted compared to mature trees. But with proper care, even older trees can successfully be moved.

Choosing a New Planting Site

Selecting the right location is an important first step for replanting:

  • Choose a sunny spot with at least 6 hours of direct sun daily. Apple trees need full sun.

  • Pick an area with well-draining soil. Heavy clay or perpetually wet soils will cause problems.

  • Ensure adequate spacing from buildings, other trees and utilities.

  • Account for the mature tree size so it doesn’t become crowded

  • Test soil pH. Apples prefer slightly acidic soils around 6.0-6.5 pH.

How to Prepare for Replanting

Proper planning prevents poor performance. Follow these tips before digging up the tree:

  • Water thoroughly a few days before to make digging easier.

  • Prune off about 1/3 of branches to compensate for root loss during transplanting.

  • Gather supplies like tarps, burlap, buckets, shovels, and soil amendments ahead of time.

  • Pre-dig the new planting hole so it’s ready when it’s time to replant the tree.

  • Create a soil mound in the base of the new hole to prevent settling.

Digging Up the Apple Tree

When digging up the tree:

  • Start at least 2 feet out from the trunk to get wide root ball.

  • Dig a trench around the periphery before undercutting the root ball.

  • Cut any long roots extending beyond the main root mass.

  • Extract the root ball and wrap immediately in burlap to keep roots moist.

  • Move the tree quickly to its new planting site. If needed, water root ball and store in shady spot for a few hours.

How to Replant an Apple Tree

Follow these important steps when replanting the apple tree:

  • Set the root ball on the soil mound in the new hole. The top should be level with the surrounding soil.

  • Straighten and spread out roots, pruning any damaged ones.

  • Backfill 1/3 of the hole and pack soil to stabilize. Remove air pockets.

  • Water thoroughly, then add and pack remaining soil. Tamp down periodically to prevent settling.

  • Ensure the graft union remains visible above soil level. Don’t bury it too deep.

  • Water deeply again to further settle the root ball into the loose soil.

Caring for Newly Replanted Trees

Reduce transplant shock and help establish new roots with proper aftercare:

  • Water 1-2 times per week during first year, providing about 1″ total weekly.

  • Apply a 2-4 inch layer of mulch from trunk to drip line to retain moisture. Leave space around trunk.

  • Stake tree for support if needed to prevent wind tipping. Remove after one year.

  • Fertilize lightly in second season after new growth emerges. Too much nitrogen causes leafy growth over roots.

  • Prune strategically to shape tree and compensate for root loss.

  • Monitor for pests like borers that target stressed trees.

  • Delay fruit production by removing flowers/fruits in first 1-2 years so the tree invests energy in root growth instead.

With time and proper aftercare, your apple tree will recover from replanting stress. Be diligent with watering and protection, especially immediately after transplanting and during the first year at its new site.

Choosing the Best Time of Day to Replant Trees

For optimal results, replant trees in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler. Hot midday sun causes extra transplant stress.

Cooler conditions keep roots moist and reduce water loss in leaves through transpiration. Morning dew and increased humidity also help prevent drying out.

If replanting multiple trees, stagger the timing over several early mornings or late evenings. This gives you adequate time with each one rather than rushing.

Mistakes to Avoid When Replanting Apple Trees

While apple trees are fairly resilient, improper replanting techniques can set them back. Steer clear of these common errors:

  • Replanting in hot, dry weather that desiccates roots and leaves.

  • Allowing roots or root ball to dry out before or after transplanting.

  • Cutting back too many branches and removing buds/fruit wood.

  • Digging a hole that’s too narrow or deep.

  • Leaving air pockets around roots or planting too shallow.

  • Forgetting to water frequently after replanting.

  • Fertilizing too soon with high nitrogen.

  • Leaving protective wraps on too long causing moisture buildup.

  • Letting lawn grass or weeds grow up around the trunk and roots.

With the right timing, care, and technique, you can minimize stress and give your apple tree the best chance to thrive when replanted in its new location. In time, it will once again produce bountiful fruit to enjoy.

How to Minimize Transplant Shock

Just like when anyone moves from one location to another, there’s a little bit of stress involved.

Fruit trees get stressed when they lose some roots and are moved to a new soil type. This is called transplant shock.

But if we help them along, we can make our transplanted fruit trees bounce back. Here are some ways you can reduce transplant shock:

  • Rototilling your soil will help it be ready. Add compost if necessary.
  • Make sure your new location has good drainage.
  • Set up an irrigation system or a good plan for watering your plants.
  • When moving fruit trees, don’t cut off more roots than you need to.
  • Thoroughly water trees after planting. They need 1 inch of water each week. Don’t let the soil dry out.
  • Put down a layer of mulch that is 2 to 4 inches deep, starting at the tree’s base and going out to the leaves. Make sure there is space between the mulch and the trunk base.

Can You Transplant Fruit Trees? Things to Consider

Transplanting fruit trees takes some good planning.

You can have a successful transplant by factoring in some key areas. Starting things off right is essential to avoid future challenges.

Start by looking at your planting site. Make sure it’s not close to sewer lines, sidewalks or driveways, and powerlines. Think about what your tree will look like in 10 years and make sure it won’t get in the way of other trees, that it drains well, and that it gets 5 to 8 hours of sun a day. Plus, you should check that the soil is rich and fertile. If it isn’t, you might need to add compost before you plant.

Next, think about timing. Although fruit trees can be planted at any time of the year, the best time to move them is in the late winter or early spring, before they start to grow again. In the middle of the growing season or when the buds have already started to form, fruit trees should never be moved.

Then you want to look at the tree you’re moving. The younger the tree, the easier it is to transplant. Trees older than three years require more care during transplant.

If you want to make sure you get all the big roots when you move fruit trees, you should dig down 15 to 24 inches from the outside edge of the canopy. Use a sharp spade to cut any minor roots. Wrap that root ball in damp burlap until you can plant it shortly after. Some additional root prep might be necessary as you dig your tree.

When you dig the new hole, make sure the top of the root ball is above planting grade and take out almost twice as much of the tree’s current root system’s width. This way the new roots aren’t cramped. When you fill in the planting hole, hold the tree up a bit so that loose soil can fall under and around the roots. This will also help keep the tree straight and in the middle. Tamp down the soil to remove air pockets. Another way of removing air pockets is to add water gradually as you backfill the planting hole. This will help the root ball settle properly.

How-To Plant an Apple Tree (Everything you need to know!)


What is the best time to replant an apple tree?

While fruit trees can withstand planting throughout the year, the best time of year to transplant fruit trees is in the dormancy state to early spring before their active growth period. Fruit trees should never be transplanted when they have already started developing buds or during the peak growing season.

Do apple trees transplant well?

But if the plant is dormant, and you are able to keep a reasonably large ball of soil on the roots that you can dig, a move is frequently successful.

Can you take a cutting from an apple tree and grow it?

Propagating by cuttings can be one of the fastest ways of starting a new fruit bush. For example, apple varieties can root in a month and the cuttings could already resemble small trees. However, some fruit tree cuttings need to then be grafted onto a rootstock, something we won’t be covering here.

How do you transplant an apple tree?

Lift the tree out of the ground, taking care not to damage the roots. Transplant the tree: Place the apple tree in the new planting hole, making sure it is at the same depth it was previously growing. Backfill the hole with the soil mixture, ensuring there are no air pockets around the roots. Lightly tamp down the soil to remove any excess air.

How do you care for an apple tree after transplanting?

Fertilizing an apple tree is also important after transplanting. Fertilizing helps promote healthy growth and fruit production. An apple tree should be fertilized with a balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10 in the early spring and again in the late summer. Finally, protecting an apple tree from pests and diseases is also important after transplanting.

How do you prune an apple tree after transplanting?

Prune with the long-term goal of maintaining an open and balanced canopy that allows sunlight to reach all parts of the tree. This will promote fruit production and reduce the risk of disease. It is important to note that timing plays a crucial role in pruning after transplanting an apple tree.

Should you transplant an apple tree if relocating?

Given the investment of time and care necessary for maturing young trees into fruit development, it is no wonder many families prefer to transplant an apple tree if relocating. Apple trees will fare best for transplant as long as the new location is not too different from its old location. Did you plant trees this year?

Leave a Comment