Espalier Apple Trees Rework - 2016 Updates

This is updates for my espalier apple trees re-worked from 2015. Through advises of this forum experts, I’ve pruned my espaliers quite aggressively.

Below are the skeleton of my trees, fresh pictures that were taken this morning. There’re signs of tiny red tip at the leave nodes and some swollen buds. It’s slowly awaking…

Should I prune the little whippy toothpick sticks down to 2, 3 nodes as in last summer? MES111, Alan and Applenut, or any espalier expert, please advise. Thanks.


The big picture


Further zoomed-in


Wow, you’re doing great!

They look amazing to me.


Looks good. Hopefully, you will get some good apples this year.


That won’t be my approach. That might prune off most of the flower buds. At some point you have to quit pruning and let it flower. For me this would be the time. If you don’t prune and it still doesn’t flower then you can prune later or reconsider your approach.



I agree with FN.

For now just HURRY UP AND RELAX. :smile:

We concentrate the pruning of our espaliers in summertime (for me its starting in late June at the earliest and through August at least) AFTER the trees tell us what to do.



Thanks Steve and Mike for the advises. It’s good to hear that I should not cut anything until further observation.

I definitely want to know how thing turns out as the season starts so I can confirm with my own eyes, what works and what not.

I’m going to keep posting for more updates, hopefully things like budding, blossoming and fruiting, …and diseases, disaster and squirrels…

As spring progresses, I’m planning to graft more variety onto these 2 espalier’s 12 arms, slowly converting them to give me 12 apples varieties instead of just two as of now. I hope it works.


Those are beautiful. I can not wait to have spurs all along my rows. I have high hopes for my first apple coming this year. I had a promising looking fruitlet last year but it didn’t make it. I am looking forward to seeing your branches in bloom so I can imagine mine forward several years.

Tom, those look great.

Tom those are magnificent! Here is a site to visit. Notice the scale of the the trunks and branches of the espalier to the height of the pruned spurs and short branches.

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That espalier is beautiful, MrsG. If nothing goes wrong, mine would take another 15-20 years to get to that stately status…

It will! Tom the picture was for reference of width of branch to the height of pruning. Pretty tree eh?

Everything are budding in my backyard orchard except these espalier apples. They’re just starting to wake up unfurling some tiny green leaves. I’m so anxious to see any indication of flower budding but have not seen any yet!

Dormant pruning has an invigorating effect, so pruning the whippy growth back now will just encourage more vegetative growth. Wait until they push more green growth and then pinch that back to the tree leaves during the summer and fall.

By the way, this whippy growth makes great scionwood, so you’re really getting two crops on this tree, one apples, the other grafting wood.

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By the way, unpainted trunks like that on a south facing fence would be absolutely incinerated in my climate. Borers would infest the dead bark on the graft union and finish it off.

Here’s another update from my espalier apples. Apparently with the visible green tapes all over the places, I’m working to convert these 12 arms into 12 varieties of apple while waiting for the fruiting result from last year’s pruning efforts. I see lots of green but have not seen any flower cluster yet. Are they still coming?

The above pictures were taken on 4/17 but after a day of very warm sunlight, they really pushed out more greens

And any apple flower cluster is still elusive, nowhere to be visible… yet!


They look great. Grafting over at this point would be painful. I think you will see some fruit this year.


You may not have fruiting buds this year based on last seasons haircuts. Patience.

Look at two year and older wood; and …

Look at the nice large shoot in the center of your photo. As this shoot starts putting just a wee bit ( scientific horticultural term) taller, so you can more easily see what you are doing, cut or pinch it back to it back to 3 leaves. You may have to do this 3-4 times during the season. The tree will continue to try and push vegetative growth from the same location until it gets the message and calms down.




I know patience is a virtue but at least they should show me something to encourage my TLC to them, huh?

If there’s any flowering cluster produced on apple tree, they should be visible at this stage, would they? Giving them another week or 2 then I can conclude of its direction and not building “high hopes” until next year.

I truly value your advises.


Yeah! I wished I knew about grafting stuff 4, 5 years ago when I first planted them. It was a PITA and it took a good portion of my day to graft about 20 sticks onto its 10 arms. In another 10 or so years (if I still live at this place), I probably look back and call it “worth it”!

Thanks for the nice words…