Apple Trees - Hopeless Cases?

I have two apple trees in my garden which I planted about 30 years ago.  One is a Bramley, the other a Laxton Superb.  I have had apples in the past but probably for the last 10 year not even had any blossom, let alone apples.  I have tried pruning them properly, another year lopped them right down but nothing seems to work.  Any ideas?  I am fed up with great big trees with no fruit.


  • Apple trees have a life span of good 4oyears and after that its down hill all the way,if pruning has done no good its telling you its time to go.

  • steephillsteephill Posts: 506

    Bramleys last for a very long time. Could be a pollination problem. Bramley needs 2 other group D pollinators - Laxton Superb is one but you need another. The Bramley won't pollinate the Laxton but it is partly self fertile so you should get some fruit from the Laxton. Normally other trees in the neighbourhood would act as pollinators but if they have all gone then you could try a flowering crab apple.

    They may also have developed a biennial flowering habit which combined with pruning may account for lack of flowers and fruit.

  • Alan4711Alan4711 Posts: 1,569

    looking at the pollinator chart ,Steephill is correct, the trees  need help to pollinate, after that the only other thing i can think of trying thats easy is Potash, give the trees a good dose of FBB and Potash,to promote flower and fruitimage

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,357

    If there's not even any blossom, try a feed of super phosphate in early Spring.  If that doesn't spur them into flowering (pun intended!) then not much will! image

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Maybe post a pic of them here, and we can see how they have been pruned, if there are no flowers at all, that sounds very odd!
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 3,484

    We inherited an apple tree (maybe 15 - 20 yrs old) which did absolutely nothing for the first two seasons we were here.

    Last March I planted a crab apple nearby - we subsequently had a real bumper harvest  and this year's is probably better - maybe fewer fruit but bigger better quality apples (Egremont Russet mmm...).

    If the apple trees were previously productive it makes me wonder if you removed something from the garden that could have been providing the necessary pollination.

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Alan4711Alan4711 Posts: 1,569

    Talking to the G/C and looking at the charts it seems Crab apples are one of the best pollinators, im adding one next even though my new apple trees are all in the correct pollinator groups im advised the Crab is a good idea, and i know this type of thing frightens people off but a soil test round the trees might show some deficiencies  and save a lot of time and trouble,.

  • sjpsjp Posts: 19

    Thank you everyone.  This is all very interesting.  I will take some photos of my trees and upload them. When the trees used to fruit there was a very old apple tree - I don't know what sort it was - in the garden that backs on to mine.  It blew down in some gales so maybe that was the pollinator but surely you need flowers to pollinate and I think I saw one this year?  More than last year though! I will find out about crab apples and also Potash and FBB. 

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,357

    Hi sjb, just to correct a mistake in my post above - I meant to say a high potash feed rather than phosphate.  Potash encourages flower and fruit formation while phosphate encourages root growth.  Both are essential (together with nitrate) but lack of potash (the K in NPK ratios shown on plant food) can hinder the formation of blossom.  Sulphate of potash together with FBB (an excellent balanced food) would be ideal.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.

    Bramley is a tip bearer which means you need to be careful with pruning so you do not cut out the fruiting wood. The lack of fruit was more than likely caused by the loss of second pollinator and then the lack of flowers caused by the hard pruning.

  • sjpsjp Posts: 19

    I have at last taken some photos.  Please don't tell me offimage The first one is the Laxton and the second the Bramley





  • sjpsjp Posts: 19

    Sorry, wrong way round.  The top is the Bramley with the blue sky above and the other is the Laxton. 


  • It could be that they are now past their best due to the age of the trees but you could try planting another pollinator that is in the same group as the Bramley or indeed a crab apple as suggested in the other posts above. If you have pruned it hard then it will take a few seasons to recover from this. Just remember Bramley fruits on the tips and so require very careful pruning to avoid losing all the potential fruit buds.

  • sjpsjp Posts: 19

    Thanks.  What I don't understand though is if the Bramley fruits on the tip how can you prune it?  Doesn't the branch just get longer and longer? Sorry to be so obtuse but I am not very logical on these things.

  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICTPosts: 10,263
    Bramleys produce fruit at the tips of their branches and also on short spurs along the branches. It is a case of balancing the growth of the tree against wanting to have fruit. I usually divide the tree into three and prune a third of the branches hard each year, leaving two thirds to make apples.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
Sign In or Register to comment.