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The apple tree (Malus) is one of the most popular and widespread fruit trees in domestic gardens. Over time, the current location may prove suboptimal and/or there may be other reasons that make transplanting desirable. There are a number of factors to consider here, such as when is the ideal time and how the implementation is carried out correctly. The professional instructions contain all the essential details on this topic.

Transplant apple tree

Apple trees quickly get used to their location and adapt to the conditions there as well as possible. Once planted and recovered from the stress, they don't like moving again. It is therefore important to make sure when planting that the location ideally remains the last one. However, there are reasons that make a move necessary, such as:

  • structural changes
  • Tree grows too big for the site
  • Poor soil conditions (e.g. unavoidable waterlogging)
  • Changes in lighting conditions due to subsequent shade providers (neighboring tree growth or similar)
  • Trouble with the neighbor because the tree grows too close to the property line
  • tree age

If an apple tree was bought and planted as a standard or half-stem, transplanting should take place within the first five years. After that, the risk increases that he doesn't tolerate the move and accepts it. But a change of location means a lot of stress for Malus, although the chances for younger trees are significantly better if the ideal time for transplanting is taken into account. With apple trees from five years and older, the right digging up and planting and the care afterwards are also important.

Best transplant time

To ensure that the conditions for transplanting are optimal, it is important to wait for the right moment. While the season is a significant part here, it is also important to choose a time when older trees in particular are strong and healthy to survive the move.


If the malus survived the winter well, which should be the case with needs-based care, and pests or diseases have not weakened it beforehand, spring is the ideal time to transplant an apple tree. The frost should be over, allowing the roots to settle and spread directly into the soft soil. The transplanting should therefore take place after the ice saints, but not much later, otherwise the growing season is already in full swing. If the weather conditions permit, you can transplant earlier on a frost-free day. Since the hibernation ends in March, action can be taken from April. For older trees, however, May is considered the ideal time.


Theoretically, it can also be transplanted in summer. However, the apple tree is in full bloom here. It is weakened by transplanting, the flowers wither quickly and a serious loss of yield can be expected in older trees that are already producing fruit. In addition, a freshly set malus is dependent on plenty of watering, as long as the roots are not yet stuck in the ground. For the fruit grower, this means even more work during the summer months.


Actually, it could also be transplanted in autumn if it was known when the first frost was actually to be expected. If, for example, the planting is carried out in October and the ground is already frozen at the beginning of November, the roots have not yet been able to establish themselves and will not do so if there is frost. This means the tree lacks stability and a small autumn storm is enough for it to break out of the ground. In addition, it cannot recover from transplanting when there is frost, so that it goes into the winter weakened and, in the worst case, suffers from frostbite. If it "must" be implemented in autumn, then it should be done immediately after the harvest at the end of September. If you can wait until spring, you should.


Between November and March, the apple trees are in the so-called hibernation. Even if late autumn is mild, frost is a long time coming and the start of winter rest is delayed, they should be left alone. That means a reset is here to be avoided in any case. The trees would not have a chance to root themselves in a new location due to the shut down metabolism, allowing them to pull the (few) nutrients from the soil to survive. Therefore: no transplanting in winter between November and March.

Transplant apple tree: instructions

Materials needed

  • spade
  • pruning shears
  • Jute sack to protect the root ball
  • Wire or string for tying
  • Humus for the new location
  • irrigation water
  • Three to four support beams/battens/posts
  • Special rope for plant stabilization (available in garden shops)

notice: If the trunk is already thicker, planting out with a simple spade may no longer be possible, or only with great effort. Special equipment is often offered for rent, which makes the work immensely easier. Calling in a gardening and landscaping specialist is also an option.

Prepare new location

Before planting the apple tree, the new location should be well prepared. In addition to the preparation, it is important that the location meets the requirements of the penalty. With older trees over five years of age, care must be taken to ensure that the new location does not differ too much from the previous one. For example, if they were previously in partial shade, hours of sun will bother them. Once you have found the ideal location, you can start preparing:

  • Dig a planting hole (will be adjusted later)
  • Mix the excavated soil with hummus
  • Lay drainage on the bottom: at least two centimeters of gravel or quartz sand layer
  • For older trees, mix the soil from the old location into the excavated soil (absolutely necessary if the soil conditions differ)
  • Water the soil and planting hole moderately (pre-)water

plant out

  • Excavate the earth generously around the root ball/expose the root (based on the diameter of the tree crown)
  • Cut through far-reaching root parts cleanly with a spade
  • Make sure that as many fine roots as possible remain undamaged
  • Go under the root ball with the spade and push up the root
  • Tilt the tree slightly to one side
  • Put the jute sack over the “free” root area
  • Bend the trunk to the other side and pull the jute sack on the side
  • Do not incline too much to avoid breaking branches
  • Tie the jute bag together with string or wire

tip: The old soil should be left at the roots unless waterlogging has soaked them. In this case, however, it must still be removed as far as it falls by itself, because the apple tree is best "started" again when there is still earth left on the ball. The “lost soil” in the jute sack should then be replaced with fresh, dry soil.

To cut

After digging up, it is now important that the crown of the tree is "trimmed". Remove thick branches and shorten the entire crown by a few centimetres. This action ensures that the roots can establish themselves better and faster in the new location and helps the apple tree to gain more strength. Especially with older apple trees, this is a crucial point that significantly minimizes the risk of dying after transplanting.

tip: If the apple tree has been waterlogged, the root area should be checked for soggy and/or moldy root parts. It is advisable to cut these off and a short, slanting cut of all root tips facilitates the absorption of nutrients and water in the first few weeks after transplanting.

Plant again

  • Correct the size of the planting hole if necessary
  • Planting hole should be at least as big as the old one after digging
  • Place the root ball in the planting hole with a jute sack
  • Fill up the planting hole with soil enriched with humus
  • Root must be covered with soil by a few centimeters
  • Stuck mediocre
  • Draw mounds of earth around the planting hole (keeps the irrigation water above the root area)
  • Water well
  • Press stakes all around deep into the earth and tie the apple tree to them (serves for stabilization)
  • Use a soft, wide ribbon or natural rope to avoid wounds in the tree bark


After transplanting, it is important that the apple tree receives plenty of water for the next few weeks. Only then is it able to form new fine roots, which it urgently needs for healthy growth. At higher temperatures, watering should only be done early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid significant evaporation. Fertilize at the earliest six to eight weeks after transplanting.

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