Bent
Full Member
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:27 am

Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

Hey guys, I was wondering if it was possible to grow an apple tree in a greenhouse and...have it produce apples?

If so, which species would stand the best chance in my colder climate?

I don't see any issues with the tree growing up into the trusses. I would only have to prune it when it pushes against the Lexan at a height of 17'.

Thanks for any input...

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27656
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse?

Where are you located? Greenhouse is probably not necessary.

Some apple tree cultivars are adapted to/developed for really cold regions with range that make my NJ garden furthest south growing area.

Two sources I know of are Fedco of Maine and Saint Lawrence Nursery.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

Bent
Full Member
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:27 am

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse?

I am in Athabasca Alberta, Canada.
There are crab apple trees in this area that can weather our winters but...I would like to plant a Macintosh or red delicious (Christmas apple), so I was wondering if there are any specific needs for growing a tree in a greenhouse?

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse?

I agree with applestar, you can grow apples without the greenhouse and with it it will be very difficult.

It depends on the type of apples, but all apples require winter chilling, anywhere between 900 - 1200 hrs of temps below 45 deg F. So your greenhouse has to be heated (if you are growing a variety that doesn't tolerate your climate), it still needs to be not too much.

They need pollination, which with apples is usually two different varieties of trees grown near each other AND honeybees or other insect pollinators to carry pollen from one to the other.

They need abundant sunshine, which in a greenhouse probably means supplemental lighting

The McIntosh you mentioned is a native of Canada and is rated as cold hardy down to -20 deg F. If you regularly have temps colder than that, you might be able to just rig up some winter protection for your trees, that is removable for summer. They don't need much light while dormant in winter, so just some kind of blanket or windbreak to protect them from wind chill, might be all you need.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27656
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse?

Wow that's pretty far north! Go look at the listing at the two sources I mentioned. You may still find dessert apple cultivars -- not just crabapples -- that you'll like. And I recommend you look beyond common supermarket varieties for backyard growing :wink:

Only problems is that they may not ship to Canada -- or only with extravagant extra processing fees like ag. certificates -- and you may need to find local sources.

A blurb at St. Lawrence about choosing apple trees: https://www.sln.potsdam.ny.us/pgapples.html
It appears you would be better off with a tree on one of the severe winter hardy standard rootstock.

This is a listing from UK: https://www.orangepippintrees.com/collec ... e-3-zone-4
It lists "Duchess of Oldenburg" as hardy to USDA Zone 2 :o
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27656
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse?

:lol: haha :lol: ...This topic got me curious, especially as far north as the OP's garden is. One site said Athabasca only enjoys 88 frost free days! :shock:

Someone on another site said Alberta ag dep has given up on fruit tree growing research :|
But I did find a list from U of Saskachewan https://www.fruit.usask.ca/nmdcltvrs.html

...and a source in Alberta: https://www.greenlandgarden.com/pdf/tips ... lberta.pdf

Given these possibilities, I would reserve the growing space in the greenhouse for more tender fruit tree or vine that needs it more. :wink:

-- Please keep us posted on what you decide to do and what you ultimatey decide to plant. I'd love to hear how your little "orchard" turns out! :D

eta -- :roll: -- here's another list from Wisconsin... There's even one that was developed in Alberta 8)
This list makes it easy to see -- you'd want a summer apple cultivar that ripens in August before hard frost/freeze arrives presumably in September in your area. I see two or three on this list.
https://maplevalleyorchards.com/pages/Ap ... spx?page=W
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

I'd be temped to ask you to talk to McKently of St Lawrence Nurseries. He's grafting onto antonovka rootstock so if there is a top that will grow up by you, his root stock will grow it too.

FWIW if I can keep an apple pruned as bonsai to less than 36" tall, you can prune one to fit a green house.

How you are going to get an apple pollinated inside a green house (read cross pollinated) I have utterly no idea. Lets try for one miracle at a time I guess.
Think like a tree
© 2016 Invisable Inc.

Bent
Full Member
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:27 am

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

Wow, amazing replies!!!
Tomc, my family enjoys the honey we harvest from our bee hives, so I was considering placing 1 hive inside the greenhouse for pollination. I have allowed openings at the top of each gable end of the greenhouse for insects to enter.
Now, I need to go read all the links you guys have offered up :D

Thanks for your input...

valley
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1335
Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:25 am
Location: ranches in sierra nevada mountains California & Navada high desert

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

Greetings, Our greenhouse in the mountains is unheated and gets the as cold as outdoors in winter. An enclosure might be beneficial to apples giving day warmth and nights where the temps don't fall as fast, that would give fruit more summer hours to form.

Just a thought, I was planing to do that up here before I transplanted the apples to our lower place.

I don't know how much snow you get, but in the mountains, this valley, would bury and snap branches and tops of our apple trees.
My sister does have an apple tree, Pippin, at her place. She is a little lower and gets more hours sun.


Richard

Bent
Full Member
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:27 am

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

Valley, thats what I was thinking...I may be able to grow a breed of apple that would normally not survive up here, giving my neighborhood kids the opportunity to pilfer juicy apples from my garden, as I did when I was a teenager in a warmer climate.

I looked at the links and am still stuck on red delicious. So, I will purchase 4. I will plant 1 in the greenhouse and 3 on our property, this way, I will have a growth comparison.

Now, If I may trouble you guys again?

As I mentioned, our soil is a sand/clay mix and I have added 50 yards of 20 year old cow manure. Will this suffice for the apple tree?
What fertilizer (if any) should I use? Should I use a transplant chemical like Dixon-Reid plant food to minimize "stunting" ?

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27656
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

If you plant four red delicious apple trees you may not get any apples. It is self-sterile and must have a different apple tree (or crab apple) nearby. This:

https://www.orangepippintrees.com/pollin ... spx?v=1133

has a list of what trees are good pollinators for red delicious.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Bent
Full Member
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:27 am

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

rainbowgardener wrote:If you plant four red delicious apple trees you may not get any apples. It is self-sterile and must have a different apple tree (or crab apple) nearby. This:

https://www.orangepippintrees.com/pollin ... spx?v=1133

has a list of what trees are good pollinators for red delicious.

Thank you for that info! Being new to this, I never knew that :oops:

So, I guess I could plant 2 tree's in the greenhouse and 2 elsewhere on the property. After looking at the link you provided, I have chosen the Honeycrisp as the pollinator for the red delicious.

valley
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1335
Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:25 am
Location: ranches in sierra nevada mountains California & Navada high desert

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

Brent, We had a couple Fuji trees in the mountain for about 8 years. Each year they'd get a few leaves, then fall would come, them winter. They were about 3 1/2' high. We moved them to the high desert, in two years they have turned into trees. They may fruit now. one Tree we planted from seed, it was knee high, moved it down here it grew to be a tree.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

Bent wrote:
rainbowgardener wrote:If you plant four red delicious apple trees you may not get any apples. It is self-sterile and must have a different apple tree (or crab apple) nearby. This:

https://www.orangepippintrees.com/pollin ... spx?v=1133

has a list of what trees are good pollinators for red delicious.

Thank you for that info! Being new to this, I never knew that :oops:
I bumped back in to this post. I just have to say for your own sake, there is a whole lot of pretty basic stuff you didn't know and you haven't been listening real well. In my Nov 11 post I said: They need pollination, which with apples is usually two different varieties of trees grown near each other ... . Then tom referred to it: How you are going to get an apple pollinated inside a green house (read cross pollinated) I have utterly no idea.

Apple trees are kind of expensive and space in your greenhouse is very valuable (presumably you have the greenhouse already, not building it for this project, which is a whole other league of expensive!). It is too late in the season now to be planting apple trees, so I hope you will spend your winter reading about them and their care, to save yourself any other expensive mistakes. Rushing in to projects not knowing what you are doing can lead to lots of disappointment.

Wishing you well! :) Keep us posted next year how it all goes for you, with pretty apple tree pictures! :)
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

At the peril of panning your hoped-for arbor, bees do what they do based on their season. They go where they will in their own stewardship.

One thing that will become clear to anyone who watches territorial creatures, is they don't hunt near the nest or hive. I predict you will have a very difficult time getting bees to notice near-by trees both because it is near and or because it is too cold, in your very short growing season. Bees will crap near the hive, I'm a lot less sure they will hunt there.

Um, and then there is the entry to and exit from a greenhouse.

I foresee all of these being very problematic barriers to getting a crop of fruit for you.
Think like a tree
© 2016 Invisable Inc.

User avatar
grrlgeek
Senior Member
Posts: 162
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2013 2:03 am
Location: Southern California Desert

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

Hi Bent,

I am fairly new to gardening myself but we have been doing a lot of research lately on apple trees in preparation for planting a few next year.

If you're still set on Red Delicious I suppose that's a tasty enough apple, but oh my, there are so many varieties of apples that it boggles my mind. Many, many, are self-fertile, meaning you only have to plant one tree and not worry about having a pollinator mate.

We have been doing apple trials for the last couple months. Every trip to any market, we buy two of every variety they sell and taste test. I really had no idea what was out there because until recently, it was red delish for me and no substitutes. Now, if I never have another, I don't feel like I'd be missing out. I'm quite fond of Braeburn, Opal, and Arkansas Black at the moment.

You may have already run across this information but a quick search for "apple hardy usda zone 2" led me to this website: https://www.hardyfruittrees.ca/faq

They're in Canada, and they ship bare root trees grafted on ultra hardy rootstock. You can even get multiple varieties on a single trunk. The varieties they offer look so amazing I almost wish I lived up there in the frozen North. According to their FAQ, in your zone you should be planting in October, and in fact, they only ship to Zone2 - Alberta, Saskatchewan, North of Manitoba - in the Fall. At the very least, they appear very knowledgeable about what will grow where, in Canada, and perhaps they can help you find a good fit.

Here's another link to a website chock-full of apple information: https://www.orangepippin.com/apples

Perhaps something there will strike your fancy. I'd just hate to see a good greenhouse go to waste on a Red Delicious. <teasing>

Wishing you the best of success with your orchard.

Devon
Zone - USDA 8b / Sunset 11

User avatar
webmaster
Site Admin
Posts: 9126
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 5:59 pm
Location: Amherst, MA USDA Zone 5a

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

Good info Devon!

:)

Roger

Bent
Full Member
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:27 am

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

Yes, thank you Devon for taking the time to make such an informative post!

User avatar
ReptileAddiction
Greener Thumb
Posts: 866
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:52 am
Location: Southern California

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

I know quite a few people who grow fruit trees in greenhouses to keep the trees cooler during the summer, and warmer during the winter (they are in Texas). They grow all of their trees in containers and keep them fairly small. When the trees are blooming they just open up one whole side of the greenhouse to let pollinators in, though I do not know if this would be possible in your area.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27656
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Apple tree in a greenhouse? (Alberta, Canada)

Interesting! Do they use shade cloths and air conditioner?

I saw a blog in which the writer was using a swamp cooler for her pitcher plant greenhouse.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

Return to “Greenhouse Forum”