Unlike their cold weather cousins, Tropical Apples (Malus domestica) don’t require any cold weather to get fruit. This allows them to fruit well in subtropical climates (such as here in Brisbane). In the past, the only place you could grow apples around here was Stanthorpe. But with the introduction of these exciting new low-chill varieties, growing apples in hot weather climates is a breeze. In this article, we compare a few of the best varieties for growing around Brisbane.
Tropical Anna (Self Pollinating)
The only self-pollinating apple that is suitable for Brisbane climate is Anna. This means it is capable of fruiting on it’s own, with no other apple trees around. So if you are only planting one apple tree, be sure to choose Anna. Luckily, it’s a winner on flavour! The texture is crunchy (not floury) and the flavour is similar to “Red Delicious”.
Golden Dorsett is a sweet aromatic apple. The skin is greenish yellow skin with a pink blush. Flesh is firm, sweet and white. In order to get fruit, it needs pollination from another variety of apple tree planted nearby (Anna or Tropic Sweet are fine).
Tropic Sweet apple is a delicious crunchy apple that is very sweet. It has green skin that is streaked with bright orange/red. The flavour is similar to the “Gala” and “Jonathan” apple. Like the Golden Dorsett, it needs another apple tree planted nearby to get fruit (Anna or Golden Dorsett are fine).
Ideally your apple tree should be planted in a position that recieves 50-100% direct sunlight. Half a day sunshine may be beneficial in reducing heat stress in hot weather climates. If there is choice, a greater percentage of morning sun is preferable to afternoon sun.
Apple trees like a well drained soil with a neutral PH (6.6 – 7.3). This can be achieved simply by cultivating the soil and adding organic material in and around the planting hole to a depth of 50cm. For a complete Step by Step planting guide, see our Fruit Tree Growing Guide.
How Tall do they Grow?
Apple Trees come in a Dwarf and a Full Size version. The dwarf grows 3m x 3m (and can be grown in a large pot). The full size version can grow up to 7m x 5m high (without pruning).
Pruning should be done in winter, with the goal being to:
- Reduce the height of the tree to allow for easier harvesting.
- Thin out the branches to allow for better light penetration to the lower branches.
- Remove any crossover branches that are rubbing against each other. These only promote disease.
The fruiting season runs from November to March. They are quick to fruit in their first season after planting. However, it is wise to pick the flowers off in the first season. This is because the branches may not be strong enough to support the weight of the fruit until at least the second year.
Why are my Apple Tree Leaves Dropping Off?
Apple trees are deciduous. Don’t be alarmed when they drop most (if not all) of their foliage in winter. Some of the best and tastiest fruits are borne on deciduous trees. They reshoot in September in our climate here in Brisbane.