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At Portland Nursery we celebrate the apple every autumn with our Apple Tasting Festival for many good reasons! Apples are delicious and nutritious, they produce well in our region and indeed there is a long tradition of growing apples here in the Pacific Northwest.

Apple lore dates back to ancient times, but this adaptable member of the rose family was probably first cultivated in North America in the early 17th century. Early Americans used apples more as a source of alcoholic drink, substituting costly imports with hard cider or something harder.

Since then, over 1000 varieties have entered cultivation, bred to fit various use and climate needs for this continent’s vastly diverse environments. The Pacific Northwest is one of the very best growing areas for this varied and popular fruit.

The seasonal availability of the apple is fairly amazing. Apples in the Portland area begin to ripen from July (Yellow Transparent) to November (Granny Smith).

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Selection

For the home gardener, there are many possible choices. At Portland Nursery, we generally carry around 30 varieties of apple trees each season. We stock varieties which we feel do well in our climate with both dwarf and semi-dwarf trees available.

An apple grown on either a semi-dwarf or dwarfing rootstock can be an attractive choice as a small flowering tree for an urban garden. If you are considering adding a flowering tree, why not one that bears a crop of fruit?

Before selecting the apple tree for your yard, there are a few important things to consider.

  • Choose the site where a rose would grow. Apples are members of the rose family, and need a lot of sunshine and good air circulation for healthy growth and production.
  • Urban gardens often have limited space so choosing a dwarf, columnar or espalier tree are all good space-saving options.
  • Be unique. Choose a variety that is not readily available in the grocery stores. Portland Nursery’s Apple Tasting Event is a wonderful place to sample lesser-known apple varieties and get an idea of the types of apple trees you would like to grow.

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Pollination:

Most apples grown for fruit need to have another apple near by that produces flowers at the same time of year, and is a different variety of apple. We've provided you with this handy pollination list.

In ideal weather, wind and bees may be relied upon to spread pollen from flower to flower. If weather is excessively wet and rainy during the bloom-period, pollen may be washed away and bees may not be present. This will cause a poor fruit set. Spreading pollen by hand using a small paint brush can help to increase fruit set.