Suitable Trees: Apple

The Apple (Malus) is a member of one of the largest family of plants on the planet, the ‘Rosacea’, yes they are related to Roses (Those horrible plants that flower for two days and then drop petals all over the garden). The Rose family is really diverse, with the Apples at one end, cherries, then Quinces, Cotoneasters, through the Raspberry/Blackberry group, past Roses themselves and on to Strawberries.

There are many types of Apple available but cultivars of Malus Sylvestris, the Crab Apple will give the best results and should you let it fruit produce smaller fruit.

The Apples propagate easily from seed, sown in the autumn. The seeds need a cold winter to germinate. They will take from cuttings but can prove difficult. Plants grown from seed, or cutting can take ten to fifteen years to flower.

They have no particular needs, as far as their cultivation is concerned.

Pruning should be carried out in mid summer, allowing time for next year’s flower buds to develop.

Allowing them to set fruit may stress the tree beyond its ability to survive, particularly if the fruit is 'full sized.

A 'Normal' apple and two Crab apples

Almost all Apples are grafted onto a rootstock. the rootstock imparts its growth pattern onto the finished tree, which is in most cases to 'dwarf' it. The reason for this is that the trees are smaller and the fruit easier to pick.

If you're converting a garden center tree look at the graft.

if the upper part (scion) will make a good bonsai, you may consider layering the tree just below the graft.

Apples are prone to Scab, a disease commonly associated with fruit trees. It is often seen in trees continually fed with high nitrogen feeds. It's unlikely to be seen in a bonsai fed with a well balanced fertiliser.

High Nitrogen feeds promote rapid, soft growth and this, if damaged may allow scab to enter, so watch out.

Scab itself is typified by the shrinking and drying of an area of bark. If you are the victim of such an attack you will find a remedy, usually a spray in your garden center.

Assuming you've stopped the attack in time, you might consider applying a 'Dead wood' effect to the damaged area.

The tree to the right shows both Scab (the Diamond shape at the top) and its associate Canker.


Suitable Styles


Broom and Formal upright do not suit the Apple, however you should remember that as with all flowering bonsai, you cannot really get them to conform to a ‘tree’ shape.

Allen. C. Roffey 21:52 26/04/2018