The Best Time to Transplant Apple Trees

Written by beth asher | 13/05/2017
The Best Time to Transplant Apple Trees
There are apple varieties for every taste and climate. (apples image by rafalwit from

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.


The Best Time to Transplant Apple Trees
Containerised trees may have had their roots severed. (pots image by Jacques PALUT from

"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

The Best Time to Transplant Apple Trees
Use a long, sharpened shovel for root pruning. (bêche image by Claudio Calcagno from

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.


The Best Time to Transplant Apple Trees
Plant whips in spring before they leaf out. (blooming apple-tree 6749 image by jazzid from

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

The Best Time to Transplant Apple Trees
Transplant before shoot growth beings. (apple tree 3 image by Przemyslaw Koroza from

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

The Best Time to Transplant Apple Trees
Avoid late fall transplanting and winter injury in extremely cold climates. (Winterapfel image by 5x.quadrat from

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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