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Apple Tree advice please .

I have just bought this apple tree from a neighbour (basically because I felt sorry for it). It's been in this 16" tub for 5 years to my knowledge with no change of compost, topping up or feeding - just left to the elements.
It had some blossom last year but no fruits and this year there was a small amount of blossom and 3 tiny fruits which dropped. The leaves were all lost a couple of weeks ago and now buds have begun to open.
The intention was to re-tub in a 80-90L tub (for starters with the intention of eventually planting it out) with a mixture of JI3 and some grit for drainage. When would be the best time to do this d'you think? 
I also want to prune and take off everything below the 4 main branches - would this be too much of a shock to the tree to do this before/with re-tubbing? 
I really don't know what's best for it. Your advice would be very much appreciated.


  • K67K67 Leicestershire Posts: 2,508
    You bought it? 
    If you dont want to plant in the border now I would just repot in a slightly larger pot with some fresh compost keep well watered until bare root season then replant in a prepared plot. As to pruning I chop away anytime so cant help really.
  • FoxiesFoxies Posts: 60
    edited August 2019
    I bought it simply as a way to rescue it K67 ...  :'(
    I've bought bare root before - the cherry tree and the Rowan in the background - but just worried that this has been unloved and left ... and the buds have started to open (at this time of year?)
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,072
    Do you know the variety and rootstock are? That would help determine where it could go.

     I would leave it in the current pot until it goes dormant, just keep it watered and fed until then. Plant it out in the ground in early winter then prune off the lower branches leaving the top 4. I would suggest also shortening the top 4 branches by a third, to outward facing buds.
  • FoxiesFoxies Posts: 60
    edited August 2019
    Hi Steephill - thank you for your advice. I've no idea what either is but I had it out of the tub this afternoon - there are no drainage holes, the rootball is about a quarter of the size of the tub and it was basically sitting in sludge. I made decent drainage holes and put the whole thing back as was. You say to feed it - what with? BFB or seaweed?
    I'm concerned about the buds breaking now - will it still go dormant or will they be killed off over winter? 
    Regarding variety - that was why I was considering re-tubbing into something much larger to see what fruit was produced next year. D'you think this would work?
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,067
    When the tree lost most of its leaves (probably due to sitting in water by the sound of it) it will have started new leaf buds to replace them.  Apple trees which have lost leaves due to various diseases and pests naturally do this too.  I would imagine what happened was the outer roots rotted so the tree was unable to take up enough water, even though it was effectively sitting in it.  Now you have restored drainage, hopefully new roots will form and these will feed the new leaves.  New leaves even at this time of the year will do some good before they fall and should give the tree more of a chance to recover.  As Steephill says, wait until it goes dormant before planting out/repotting or pruning.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,072
    If the rootball is only a quarter the size of the current tub there is no point in putting it in a larger tub. Dealing with the drainage issue is the best action you can take. A handful of BFB should be enough feed for the rest of this year.

    Don't worry about the new buds, the tree will still go dormant when the temperature drops and light levels fall. Let them grow for now and help feed the tree. One of my young apple trees suffered from a bad blackfly infestation this summer and has also thrown up lots of new buds to compensate.
  • FoxiesFoxies Posts: 60
    Thank you - your help is much appreciated.
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