The Best Time to Transplant Apple Trees

Updated February 21, 2017

There are apple cultivars to suit every taste and home growers can enjoy growing everything from heirloom apples to modern climate-adapted varieties. Transplanting lets home growers find the best site for their chosen variety.


"Whenever trees and shrubs are purchased and planted, they are being transplanted," says Marcus Jackson, Extension Forester at North Dakota State University. Field grown apples have their roots severed for containerisation, similar to root cutting that occurs when you dig up an established apple tree.

Established Apples

Root prune established apples 1 year to 6 months before transplanting. The best time for transplanting is during the dormant season, late fall to early spring, so plan your root pruning accordingly.


Transplanting whips (bare-root apples with stem only) is best done in early spring before shoot growth begins. David Lockwood, Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Kentucky, recommends planting mid-February through mid-March.

Container Grown

Entirely container grown apples can be transplanted throughout the growing season. Transplanting during dormancy (December through March) is preferred if the ground is not frozen.

Effect of Climate

Transplant apples in early spring (late March to early April) or late fall (October to November) in most climates. Avoid fall transplanting in extreme climates like New England. Milder climate areas have no danger of frost or heavy or waterlogged soil due to snow melt.

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About the Author

Beth Asher began writing in 1972 for a catalog company. She has written for schools and charities, including Star Workshop Foundation. She was a John Deere representative for nine years, manager of Brown's Blueberries and an advisory member of King County Small Farms Board and the Washington Association of Landscape Professionals. Asher holds a Bachelor of Science in computer networking from City University.