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Espalier Apple Tree Issue

Hi there,

I have concern about our 1 yr old Apple tree. We planted it as a stick with a few buds around April/May time. Since then it has grown well and no issues but as we are having it as Espalier for some reason the bottom tier of horizontals have not grown well. The second tier appears to have grown amazingly. 

As you can see from the attached photos, the bottom left branch is almost non-existent.

So I’m unusure what to do here.

Do I need to cut the bottom tier branches back to the main stalk in the hope they will regrow?
Or do I need to cut the main stalk down below the second tier and start again? 
Or do you have any other suggestions please?

I have followed guidance from a tutorial but this has confused me.

Any help/advice would be very welcomed asap as it is getting colder. 

Thank you


  • Pics below incase you can’t open the attachments. 😊

  • Not an expert, but if it were mine I would try to train the shoot just above it, which looks a lot more promising, to make the first tier and then remove the non-performer.
  • Hi thank you. Yeah I did wonder that but what would be the best method. Chop off the lower left branch at the main vertical stem? Neither of these has grown much and I just wondered if it would grow at all now the second tier has grown.

  • FireFire Posts: 18,069
    I would be patient. It's good that you have some growth on the left bottom tier and think it's worth waiting to see what happens. You've done well. Celebrate your successes!
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,972
    I would remove the lowest left hand shoot altogether. As the others say, the shoot just above it looks a much more promising prospect. I can't quite see from the photo if you have a horizontal wire at the lower level but if not, may I suggest you put one there, then tie that promising shoot gently to it. Then it's a matter of waiting to see what happens next spring! You need patience with espaliers.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • I'd also train the upper growth but I wouldn't tie it down yet. You will see faster growth if it's allowed to grow more vertically and then you can tie it in later.
  • gray_mad4itgray_mad4it Posts: 7
    edited November 2021
    Ah thank you so much everyone. Really appreciate your feedback. 

    I’ll do as suggested cut the bottom one off and leave the other to grow further and tie back in spring. I’ve reduced the height of main stem to a few buds ready for third tier. I didn’t realise the second tier would grow so much in the first year.

    One final question is do I need to protect the tree for the winter period at all? if so what would you suggest please.

    Thank you
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,972
    No need to protect your tree unless you are in a very cold area of UK, apples are hardy trees.

    However, if we do happen to have a prolonged cold spell with severe frost overnight for a week or more, you could just peg a sheet of fleece over the tree from the topmost wire if you are worried.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • Awesome that’s great. Thank you so much everyone 😁 you’ve been very helpful! 
  • I wouldn't tie in the new shoot next spring but rather wait for it to grow more before worrying about the shape. Vertical growth is most vigorous and by leaving it next summer you will likely see it catch up with the other shoots because it has this advantage, you can then maybe think about tieing it in next autumn when you do your spur pruning.
    If you dont mind it taking longer to catchup with the other growth then you can just tie it in now.
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