Apple trees grow best in a warm, sunny spot, with some shelter from extreme winds and plenty of moisture.
Our Guide to Buying Apple Trees goes into more detail.
Which Apple Varieties Should I Choose?
We sell over 100 varieties, roughly grouped into eaters, cookers, ciders, juicers (most apples are good for at least two of those purposes).
The Best Apple Varieties for the British Home Grower
- The single best all-round, multipurpose apple that is great for eating, cooking, juicing, and cider is James Grieve.
- The two best normal eating apples for the home grower are Red Windsor for the West, and Red Falstaff for the East. The best russet apple is Norfolk Royal Russet.
- The best cooking apple is Bramley's Seedling.
- The best cider apples are "vintage quality", meaning that you only need that one variety for a full-bodied brew.
There are four basic cider flavour categories, and the best vintage apples in each are: Kingston Black (Bittersharp), Browns Apple (Sharp), Sweet Coppin (Sweet), and Ashton Brown Jersey (Bittersweet).
The most popular supermarket varieties (all of which taste far better home-grown) are:
- Golden Delicious: Sweet and more chewy than crisp.
- Braeburn: Sharper than Golden delicious, but still sweet, and very crisp. Only suitable for warm Southern areas.
- Gala: A milder flavour than the others on this list, medium-crisp.
- Granny Smith: Almost citrus-sharp and very firm: a love-it-or-hate-it green eater that also cooks nicely!
- Cox's Orange Pippin: Superb aromatic flavour. Not ideal for organic growing: Sunset is a great alternative.
- Various Russets (Egremont, Herefordshire, Norfolk Royal): Mild flavour with hints of nut, relatively soft flesh, perfect with cheese.
- Cropping period: Discovery is one of the first to ripen, around the end of August. Winter Gem is not ready until the end of October.
- Size: Pitmaston Pineapple is ideal for a child's lunch box, whereas as Howgate Wonder is the record holder for largest exhibition apple.
What is an apple rootstock?
To propagate a given fruit tree, you take a cutting (scion) and graft it onto a rootstock, which primarily controls the tree's vigor. You might think of the scion as the body of a car, and the rootstock as the engine: the fruit is the same, but the rate of growth and final size of the tree is different.
Learn more about and buy your own apple & pear rootstocks.
Almost all of our apples are on British grown MM106 rootstocks, apart from cordons on M9, and some vigorous bushes on M26: each tree's product page will tell you.