Espalier Apple Trees Re-worked


So, after a few years not updating any progress, here’s this year, 2019 pictures. It’s still not giving me flower nor fruit. I sort of gave up but deep down somewhere in my soul, I still nurturing some hope!

If you looked hard enough, you can see there’re 2 small clusters of flower in that jungle! But those come from a graft, not the original tree!


It looks very nice


Let’s ask @MES111, Michael does espalier, too, and has gotten loads of production.


Here’s the cluster from a graft that I have for this year! :thinking:


those spurs should never be allwed to get that long. cut back to 3 leaves and dont look back. keep them short and they will produce. my 3rd and 4th leaf espaliers have to be thinned heavily doing it that way. i will post pics later. prune all summer to keep them short.


If the advice offered fails to work, you can always graft on varieties like Ark Black and Goldrush, that spur up young and insist on flowering and fruiting from the time they are very young.

I would try ringing the trees right now. With a sharp pruning saw make a cut halfway around the circumference of the trunk, past the cambium to wood. A few inches up the tree, Cut the other side of the trunk the same way. Both cuts should be below the existing branches.


Tom is in zone 5 IL. Gold Rush probably ripens too late for him.


Then run with Zestar- it’s a spur monster also. I’m sure others here can recommend other varieties that fruit very young.


This is a 3rd leaf Sweet Sixteen.

4th leaf Pink Lady

This is 4th leaf Burgundy that was severely girdled 95% winter of 2017 but made it.

Roxbury Russet

I had a Williams Pride that responded well to this also but was girdled along with the Burgundy but did not make it.

Had to throw these in…couldn’t resist.


Of course, the obvious question if an espalier fails to flower is- what’s the rootstock doc?


Did not think of that, for what it is worth, all of mine are on Bud9.


Tom, what are the names of the initial apple varieties. Thanks, Mrs. G


I was actually thinking of Tomil’s trees. Bud9 is very precocious and perhaps his trees would be flowering but are on a much more vigorous rootstock.

You can grow espaliers on the most vigorous of rootstocks, but some varieties will require quite a few feet of spread to calm down to fruit on such rootstocks.


You did a very nice job on the Espalier!!!


Maybe you should try notching below the dorment buds. Using your photo as an example I marked in blue example lopcations


After seeing Mike’s pictures @MES111, I took mine down this spring. I didn’t have espalier, I had apples on wires.


Don’t give up. Have you looked up espaliers? They come in many fancy or simple shapes and designs. Yours must fit into one of the categories. Just growing two or three rows of apples on wires is an espalier, if trained horizontally. :slight_smile:


The View from my Office window. On the left is my 3 tier Apple which has yet to bloom. To the right is my 3 tear Asian pear which has bloomed for the last 3 years although it was just. I have tasted 2 of the 3 types of pears now. I am going to employee the notching technique to try to get the apple to flower for the first time and the pear to flower more.

Yes I know its rather crowded. I have goumi’s behind the apple and pear and Rhubarb and Comfrey under them.



I think that you let your shoots grow too long after your initial pruning to the nubs you had.
Remember, these shoots want to become “trees” and grow to the sky, while you want them to become fruiting spurs. This is especially clear in the top tier arms of your trees. You have to continually knock the new growth down so the tree finally says “ok … I get it”.
Until the spurs formed I did continuous pruning to cut off any skyward pointing vegetative growth.
Look at the attached photos I took last week here in Z5b in New York.
If you zoom in you can see the repeated blunt ends where I kept cutting off new growth.

See the samples below



Wires are gone, may have been a mistake as a minor t-storm took out a Chieftain on G30, 7 yrs. old and a King of Pippens 3 yr old. Chieftain causes me some sorrow, very excellent apple but snapped below the graft. Come to think about it, all my G30 trees (5) have had similar failures.