There are hundreds of different varieties of apple trees around the world. They produce fruit that ranges from yellow to green to bright red with flavors that can be tart or sweet. Different kinds of apple trees require different growing conditions to bloom and produce fruit. When choosing a tree for a garden, it is important to consider which varieties are best suited to the climate, soil conditions and yearly rainfall in the region.
McIntosh Apple Trees
An American favorite, the McIntosh produces a thin skinned, soft fleshed fruit with a flavor that is both tart and sweet. The tree itself is a dwarf variety with gnarled branches. McIntosh apple trees need about 1800 hours a year of temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit to produce fruit. To pollinate, the McIntosh needs an apple tree of a different variety (cultivar) planted nearby. These trees grow best in cold climates with plenty of rainfall and unlike many other apple cultivars, they dislike nitrogen rich soil. These apple trees grow best in the northern areas of the U.S. and in southern areas of Canada
Like most apple trees, the red Delicious variety needs a cultivar nearby and the Golden Delicious is the perfect choice. Both red and golden Delicious trees produce a sweet, firm fleshed fruit. It is the most popular variety worldwide and the fruit can be stored for long periods. The tree is a semi dwarf and the fruit is either bright red or yellow. These trees only need about 900 chill hours and grow well in the central climate zone of the U.S., from about New Jersey to Virginia on the East Coast, across the midwest and in parts of Washington and Oregon.
Granny Smith Apple Trees
A great choice for most regions of the United States, the Granny Smith produces bright green, tough skinned, soft fleshed fruit with a tart and sweet flavor. An advantage of the Granny Smith variety is that they produce fruit sooner than many other apple cultivars. The fruit stores well and can be kept for months after picking. Fuji and Golden Delicious trees are good choices for pollinators. The Granny Smith tree is hardy, versatile and disease resistant and dwarf varieties are an excellent addition to any garden. This cultivar does not tolerate extreme cold or extreme heat and humidity well and cannot be grown in Florida, parts of Louisiana and Texas.
The Liberty Apple
A modern cultivar, the Liberty apple tree was developed for resistance to disease. The bright red fruit has a flavor very similar to McIntosh, but unlike the McIntosh tree, the Liberty grows well in most U.S. climate zones including the Southeast and Southern California. Easy to grow and hardy, the Liberty apple has a flavor that is comparable to many heritage varieties. Like the Granny Smith, the Liberty is a great dessert apple and does not lose flavor when cooked. Liberty apples store well and the trees are a great addition to any fruit and vegetable garden.
Apple trees have to cross pollinate with trees of different cultivars to produce fruit. The seeds of the tree often produce a completely different variety of apple than the parent tree which is why apple trees are usually grafted, not grown from seed. It is also why there is so many varieties of trees and fruit. Gardeners looking forward to a harvest of apples need to make sure that at least two varieties of tree are planted in the area to insure pollination.