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A Guide to Honeycrisp Apple Trees

Growing a Honeycrisp apple tree is the perfect challenge for a seasoned gardener located in colder states. In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the tree, from growing conditions to ongoing maintenance.

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Honeycrisp apple trees are known for bearing unique apples with a crisp bite and sweet, tart flavor. Typically grown in cooler climates, this tree is perfect for the gardener located in the Midwest and Northern regions of the United States.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what a Honeycrisp tree looks like, how to grow and maintain this type of tree, and where to buy a Honeycrisp apple tree.

Honeycrisp Apple Tree Overview

Characteristic Description
Characteristic Description
Fruit size At least three inches in diameter
Fruit uses Fresh eating or cooked in a recipe like an apple pie
Fruit color Red blushed and yellow skin, white flesh
Fruit texture and flavor Crisp and juicy texture; sweet, tart flavor
Region North and Midwest
Hardiness zones 3–7
Growing season The tree blossoms in April, with apples ready to pick in September
Resistance Scab disease
Susceptibility Fire blight, fly speck, sooty blotch, bitter pit, and mildew

What Does a Honeycrisp Apple Tree Look Like?

The tree foliage is green with white blossoms, the apple itself is red blushed with some yellow, and the apple’s white flesh is crisp and juicy. Honeycrisp apple trees reach a height of 14 to 18 feet and a width of 12 to 15 feet at maturity. The average apple is between 2.5–2.75 inches in diameter, but some apples can grow to be more than three inches in diameter.

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Growing Conditions for a Honeycrisp Apple Trees

Here are the optimal growing conditions for Honeycrisp apple trees:

Sun and Shade

Honeycrisp apple trees require about eight hours of direct sunlight every day. This sunlight is especially important in the morning to dry the dew from the leaves, which will help reduce the spread of diseases and kill fungi and bacteria.

Soil

You should plant your tree in well-drained soil, specifically loam soil. Loam soil is mostly made of sand and silt with a little clay. The pH of the soil should be between 6.0 and 7.0, meaning a slightly acidic or neutral pH soil is best.

Fertilizer

You can maintain tree growth by applying fertilizer annually during the spring. The best type of fertilizer to use is one with high levels of nitrogen because that promotes plant and leaf growth and a vivid green color in leaves. One potential nitrogen-rich fertilizer grade is 10-10-10.

Fertilizer grades are broken into their primary ingredients—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The 10-10-10 grade means that the fertilizer is 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 10% potassium.

Water

Honeycrisp apple trees should be watered regularly to keep the roots moist. When temperatures are high, which is typically between May and October, you should aim to water your tree daily. Hold the watering can over the base of the tree to allow for the water to penetrate seven inches down into the root system.

Ideal Hardiness Zones

The Honeycrisp apple tree grows best in cold hardy zones 3 and 4, which have average annual minimum temperatures between -40 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the plants can still survive in grow zones 6 and 7, which have warmer climates.

How to Plant a Honeycrisp Apple Tree

The best time to buy and plant a Honeycrisp apple tree is in the spring or fall when the ground is cold but not frozen. Honeycrisp apple trees are typically bought as bare root trees, meaning that the tree was grown in the ground, pulled out while it was dormant, shaken free of soil, and stored in a container with moist material. This is the easiest way to transport an already growing tree.

Once you have a tree in your possession, here’s how you would go about growing it:

  1. Dig a hole twice as wide and twice as deep as the root ball, leaving a cone of soil in the center.
  2. Adjust the height of the cone so that the crown—where the trunk meets the roots—sits at soil level.
  3. Fill the hole up halfway with soil and then continue filling the hole, pushing down on the soil to eliminate any holes.
  4. Create a trench around the tree with a radius of two inches from the trunk.
  5. Use this trench to thoroughly water the tree. Avoid overwatering the trench—the tree should not be in standing water.

If properly planted and maintained, you will see your first apples in two to five years for dwarf Honeycrisp apple trees and seven to eight years for full-size trees. Note: white blossoms on your tree should appear during April, and the apples themselves will be ripe and ready to pick by September.

Full-size Honeycrisp apple trees that have been properly cared for typically live between 35–45 years. If you buy a smaller Honeycrisp tree from a nursery, the tree will likely have a shorter lifespan of 20 to 25 years.

Tolerance and Susceptibility

Honeycrisp apple trees are disease-resistant, especially to scab disease, which creates olive green and brown spots on fruits, leaves, and branches. However, young Honeycrisp trees are susceptible to fire blight, which will cause a reddish, watery liquid to ooze from the affected branches and blacken the fruits.

This type of tree is also susceptible to fly speck, sooty blotch, and mildew fungi. Fly speck presents as a group of five or more round black specks that resemble flies, sooty blotch creates black or brown blotches ¼ inch in diameter or larger around the apple, and mildew presents as a thin, white coating on the apples.

Wildlife Threats

There aren’t insects or animals that are specifically attracted to Honeycrisp apple trees, but apple trees in general are prone to attacks from certain types of wildlife. Insects like aphids and mites can attack leaves, while codling moths can attack the fruit. Small-to-medium sized animals like possums, squirrels, racoons, and foxes, may also steal the apples from your tree for food.

Final Thoughts

Honeycrisp apple trees are picky plants that require specific growing and maintenance conditions, so you’ll have to work to get the large and crisp apples that the tree produces. If you’re an avid gardener, you might be up to the task of growing one of these trees. However, if you’re a beginner gardener, we recommend starting out with a more low-maintenance fruit tree, like a plum tree.

Frequently Asked Questions About Honeycrisp Apple Trees

Do Honeycrisp apple trees need to be surrounded by pollinator trees?

Yes. Honeycrisp apple trees don’t self-pollinate, so they need other apple trees that are six to 12 inches away to help with fertilization. Fuji, Golden Delicious, and Red Delicious apple trees work well as pollinators because they survive in the same hardiness zones as the Honeycrisp apple tree.

Are Honeycrisp apple trees hard to grow?

Honeycrisp apple trees may be difficult to grow because of their susceptibility to infections and fungi and difficult growing conditions.

Do Honeycrisp apple trees bloom every year?

Honeycrisp trees take two to eight years to produce their first apples depending on their size. Once the tree is matured, you should see fruit every year as long as you properly care for the tree.

Should I prune my Honeycrisp apple tree?

Yes. pruning can improve your tree’s overall health, which ultimately encourages more flower and fruit growth. Prune your Honeycrisp apple tree each spring. The best pruning method is to clip vertically hanging branches and leave five to seven horizontal branches to bear fruit.

How far apart should Honeycrisp apple trees be planted?

For dwarf Honeycrisp trees, plant them eight to 10 feet apart. For larger ones, plant them 15 to 20 feet apart. This will allow them to grow without getting in the way of each other.

However, since Honeycrisp apple trees don’t self-pollinate, you’ll need another apple tree of a different variety planted close by to make sure your Honeycrisp apple trees are fertilized.

Why are Honeycrisp apples so expensive?

Honeycrisp apples are more expensive than other apple varieties for a couple of reasons. First, the trees are more difficult to grow than other varieties like Golden Delicious. Demand for the apples have also exponentially increased in recent years and some orchards can’t keep up.

Both of these reasons explain why orchards charge more to sell the apples, which is why it costs more for you to buy them in the grocery store. Buying a Honeycrisp apple tree and growing it yourself is a viable alternative to paying the hefty Honeycrisp apple prices.

What other apples are similar to Honeycrisps?

SweeTango, Jazz, Ambrosia, Sweet Lady, and Enterprise apples all have similar flavors and textures to Honeycrisps. These apple varieties are not only more affordable at the grocery store, they are easier to grow, which makes them a good choice if you want a similar apple for less hassle.

Where was the Honeycrisp developed?

The Honeycrisp apple tree was developed by the University of Minnesota and is a hybrid of the apple cultivars, Macoun and Honeygold.

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