Espalier Apple Trees Re-worked



You can do it in the fall after harvest.

You will still have plenty next spring




There isn’t any fruit for harvest this year. I’m a bit confused. Please enlighten me? Thanks.


I think you’re commenting on the 6-in-1, not the Fuji /Golden GG, right? Sorry. Jumped the gun so fast!



I misread . I thought this meant that you had a few Gala (fruit) on the top arm of this espalier (hadn’t seen this one before) that you did not want to pinch off in order to shorten the stub to get more blooms next year.



If you prune too much will it make what spurs are left not fruit? My apple tree hadn’t be pruned enough in its life and I took a ton of wood off of it. There were still tons of spurs left and it had a million flowers on it but 75% of then didn’t turn in to fruit. I was wondering if thats from the crazy winter we had or my over pruning


What part of the country are you in, Jimmy? What’s your zone?

Your member page doesn’t give a clue. I’m asking because it’s often helpful for people to know when giving and taking advice.


I live in portland oregon.

Last year I had buckets and buckets and buckets of small apples. I probably threw away a hundred after all the canning we did. The few apples that got good sun exposure got huge. I figured I’d prune it so that all the apples that were left would get lots of light exposure. I bet there isn’t 15 apples on the tree this year.



If apples go un-thinned it is not uncommon for them to bear biennially. That means they fruit heavy one year and then take the next off in a pattern.

I have apple trees in Vancouver, WA that were loaded with hundreds of apples last year and have about as many as you this year. And those were nearly unpruned.

Also, some varieties are more prone to go biennial than others.


I’ve heard that and I forgot all about it. We bought the house almost 2 years ago and when we were looking at the house, the tree was loaded with apples (then when we took possession, there was a million rotten apples under the tree.) So it had apples 2 years in a row. I don’t know if the biennial thing is an exact science though.



I still have not seen one bloom from these 2 espaliers yet. I’m still learning, experimenting so I don’t know the answer. Good lucks with your apple tree.



I started to get addicted to pinching these apple espaliers. Here’s the latest pinch work and I believed that I’ve found some fruit spurs on the Fuji. The Hudson’s GG also has some, but not as much…

Still neatly presented, the overall of both Hudson’s GG and Fuji

Fruit spurs, not all over the place, but it’s forming already!

And another cluster of spurs on the Fuji…

Last picture


Here’s the newest pruning work, Hudson’s GG and Fuji (actually it’s Red Fuji)

Hudson’s GG put out very strong , thick branches but fewer spurs

Red Fuji with weaker growths but more visible spurs. Two years ago, snow piled up 2 feet high and the local rats were starved enough to clean out every growth buds on the first 2 rungs. The damaged lower rung are still not quite recover as you see the sparingly coverage on the Fuji


Tom, that’s cool as heck. Now I want to try espalier. I’m not sure that I have that much energy.
Are you in Illinois?



Yes I’m in northern Illinois.


I’m thinking of grafting some other varieties to replace the damage rungs from both trees next spring. It also gives more fruit variety from my espaliers efforts. I’m just wondering if grafting onto the 5 years old trunks at 24" high would work?

Any expert opine?



Hi Tom,

I have tried to top work my Honeycrisp espalier tree, which did not fruit for me, when it was 7 years old. It was top worked to replace the rung above 3 ft.
Just like any other top work grafting process, the grafts took but the espalier tree does not look as nice as before the top working. Maybe it’s the way I grafted. I was desperate to get something that will fruit in my climate to take and didn’t really care at that time how the tree would look.

I also grafted different varieties onto individual lateral branches on the remaining rung. Because of the grafts which are already 1-2" above the rung, these are not expected to fruit as close to the rungs as they are supposed to if not grafted.

I am no expert but would just like to share my experiences.


Why do you think the Honeycrisp didn’t fruit? Not enough chilling? I ask because I’d like to work Honeycrisp onto the upper rungs of one of my espaliers.



I think I’ve read somewhere that HC is notorious as slow grower and long time to fruit so maybe you’ve picked a wrong one for espalier. Besides, the HC is developed in Minnesota, zone 3 or 4 so it may requires a great deal of chill hours. Maybe your zone 9 is not good for it?

I was also told that my Hudson’s GG is not a good fruit setter! Well, damaged is made and I’m going to keep it for a few more years to see it for myself. And that sprung the thought of a grafted-over if Hudson’s GG is a dud for espalier.

I have mine for 4 years and no flower, no fruit so this year I asked questions and got advices from experts in this forum. My top priority is seeing results before any drastic change is made. It’s just the bottom rung that got gnawed off so bad that a grafted-over repair with the benefit of different variety, thus prolonging the harvest (if it fruited)…

Seeing the “fruits of my labor” on the espaliers next year is so paramount for me.


This is a great thread and I’ve learned a lot. My problem is that when I pinch off shoot growth on my apple tree (Gravenstein, NOT espaliered) it gets triggered to produce flowers right away! I don’t think this is a good thing when it’s happening in mid to late summer. Right now I’ve got mature fruit, baby fruit, flowers, and flower buds on my tree, and it’s WAY late for flowers. Their fruit is unlikely to mature unless winter is mild or nonexistent (which is a possibility in CA). Can I at least console myself that if I get flowers on the spurs now, they will flower again in spring? Or does it not work that way?


Insufficient chill hour is what I believe to be the cause. However, I have seen at least one site showing HC is good for zone 10. Go figure…


I definitely had picked the wrong one for espalier. It was purchased so many years ago when I was still fairly ignorant and purchased fruit trees pretty much based only on catalog descriptions.

I have been doing a lot of pinching in the last couple of months after reading this thread, trying to see if this helps to force HC to form fruiting spurs.

I have grafted Hudson’s GG on one of the laterals on my other espalier tree a few years ago and have not seen one fruit from it yet. I believe I had seen fruiting spurs earlier this year but they just didn’t bloom due to our warm winter.