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How Long Do Apple Trees Live?

apple trees

As the saying goes, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples have been a part of human history for thousands of years. So, what makes them so special? In this article, we will look at apples, specifically how long apple trees live, which is between 15–50 years.

Apples are an incredibly nutritious fruit rich in fiber and antioxidants that are associated with reducing the risk of certain health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, gut health, weight loss, and brain health.

In this article, we will look at apples and answer the question about their life span, including what increases their longevity. Let’s dig in!

garden flower dividerHistory of the Apple

An apple is a fruit of the apple tree (Malus domestica) and can be cultivated worldwide. It comes in all varieties, shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors and packs a punch in terms of nutrients.

The apple fruit can be traced back to Kazakhstan, Central Asia, and east of the Caspian Sea. By 1500 BC, apple seeds had been taken throughout Europe and the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans had started cultivating them.

The early centuries of the Christian era can be attributed to transporting apples to the British Isles, and several varieties thrived in England.

By 1300 BC, Egyptians had started cultivating orchards with apples along the Nile Delta, and by 800 BC, ancient Greeks had learned grafting techniques and were cultivating apples. By 200 BC, ancient Romans had started planting apples brought to Mexico and South America by Spaniards in the 1500s–1600s.

apple tree blossoming
Image Credit: blickpixel, Pixabay

The Lifespan of an Apple Tree

A typical apple tree’s average life span is between 25–50 years. Large, healthy trees with excellent root systems may last for as long as 100 years. The smaller, spindly trees mainly grown in overcrowded orchards will be lucky to hit the 15-year mark. These trees are mainly of dwarf varieties. The main difference between dwarf and ornamental trees is the root system of normal trees, which are much larger and stronger.

Average Lifespan for Popular Apple Trees

Apple Tree Variety Average Life Span
Red delicious 35–50 years
McIntosh 30–45 years
Golden Delicious 40–50 years
Gala 25–40 years
Dwarf Gala 15–20 years
Fuji 35–50 years
Dwarf Fuji 15–25 years
Honey crisp 35–45 years
Empire 20–30 years
Crabapple 15–30 years

Factors Affecting the Lifespan of an Apple Tree

The lifespan of an apple tree will depend on a couple of factors, which include:

  • Exposure to Sunlight: One of the most important factors to ensure the apple tree reaches its full potential is exposure to the sun. To ensure your trees do not end up like the dwarf varieties mostly found in congested orchards, ensure each tree gets enough sunlight.
  • Competition With other Trees: Most apple trees grown near other trees will likely end up in competition for resources, including nutrients, which may affect how they grow and their longevity. If you reduce their competition to stay alive, it is easier for them to thrive for years to come.
  • Moisture: Apart from nutrients and sunlight, moisture is another important factor. Moisture goes hand in hand with the amount of water the tree accesses. However, the water should not be too little or too much. In the case of too much water, the tree’s roots may rot, with bacteria and disease spreading and rendering the tree incapable of thriving. Likewise, too little water may have the effect of drying it up, making it unable to produce any fruit.

The Type of Soil

Good soil will influence the root system. Coupled with the right climate, you will get a healthy tree that will last a long time.

The best soil for apple trees is rich, loamy, and organic soil. The best climate is in US growing zones 4–7.

close up wet apple tree
Image Credit: Lichtsammler, Pixabay

garden flower divider

Different Varieties of Apple Trees and Their Growth Rate

There are hundreds of different apple tree species around the world and choosing the right type for you may be a challenge. When selecting the type of tree you want to plant, you need to consider a couple of factors. One of the primary factors is the particular environment you want to plant it in.

Another factor is the pace at which the tree will grow. Some trees will produce apples faster than others. Note that apples need cross-pollination to bear fruit, meaning you need a partner plant to work with.

Let’s check out some common tree species:

  • Red Delicious: One of the most common apple trees is the Red Delicious apple tree. It is a hardy and sturdy tree that will mature quickly within 7–10 years.
  • Golden Delicious: This is another popular type of apple tree, which is sturdy and comes at a similar speed of growth. Its dwarf variety will mature in between 3–4 years.
  • Lodi: This is another type of apple tree grown across the US. They are a great fruit producer and will also produce their fruit early during the season, which endears them to most apple farmers. The tree is also tolerant to different types of soil, making it capable of thriving in many different conditions.
  • Gravenstein: This is a must-have for apple growers looking for a faster harvest. They are one of the largest apple trees, with the potential for producing large quantities of apples within 2–5 years.
  • Fuji: This is a fussier version of the apple tree and will reach maturity quicker, with the capability to bear fruit between 3–4 years.
  • Arkansas Black: This is one of the more exotic apple trees with a faster maturity. It takes about 5 years to start bearing fruit. It is classified as an ornamental type of tree.

How Long Does It Take for an Apple Tree to Bear Fruit?

On average, most apple trees will take 5–10 years to bear fruit. On the other hand, the dwarf varieties of apple trees will take between 2–3 years to start bearing fruit. However, they also live a third of the time most normal apple trees live.

man spraying in an apple tree orchard
Image Credit: branislavpudar, Shutterstock

How Can You Increase Apple Tree Productivity?

Here are a few tips to ensure you have a productive apple tree:

  • Aerate the soil around the tree to ensure there is an improved airflow
  • Add fertilizer to the trees, especially during spring and fall
  • Plant the trees where they can get enough sunshine
  • Do not do too much pruning on any tree
  • Ensure your trees are free from pests
  • Add potassium and phosphorus at the base of the tree

garden flower dividerConclusion

As you can see, apple trees can survive for a very long time, provided that all conditions such as the sunlight and watering needs are met. The different varieties will mature at different times, depending on the growing zone. As you choose the ideal variety to plant, note that those that mature faster will also have a shorter lifespan.


Featured Image Credit: Hans, Pixabay

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