Repotting an apple tree

I was recently contacted by a guy who has a family apple tree in a pot. He needed instructions on how to repot it.... here's my reply:

Get a suitable pot - a bit larger than the one it's in at the moment. It must be a pot which is suitably shaped - like a bucket, wider at the top than the bottom, so you can remove the tree at a later date if you feel like it.

Hold the tree carefully by the stem, and remove the present pot. Do it very gently.

Rub any loose soil off the roots. Trim off any long or spindly looking roots.

Place some compost in your new pot, deep enough so that when you place the tree plus root ball in it, the tree is at the correct depth.

When you've done this, and ensured that the stem is exactly perpendicular, add loose compost around the edges in the gap, and keep adding it, pressing it down with your fingers (wear gloves). Keep doing this until no more compost can be pressed in.

Then water it thoroughly. The re-potting is now complete.

Part 2 - pruning..... (he didn't ask, but this is important)

In a pot, the tree must not be allowed to get too big. I suggest 3 ft 6 or 4 ft maximum, unless you eventually want to plant it in the ground.

The main problem with a family tree is balance.

The more vigorous variety will try to take over.

You'll soon see which side of the tree is the strongest. You limit the vigour of this side by removing leaves, regularly - say every week - on that side of the tree.

Shoots higher up the tree should be suppressed or it will go spindly.

If in doubt, prune slightly too much. More trees are spoilt by under-pruning than over-pruning, especially in pots.

Nigel Deacon, Diversity website

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