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Cordon Apple Trees - How to Grow Apple Trees as Cordons. 

A cordon apple tree can be bought part trained, or you can train an apple tree - grown on a suitable rootstock - from a one year old maiden. A trained cordon apple tree - available in containers at good garden centres - will already have been grown and trained at at angle of 45 degrees. If you decide to start your own cordon from scratch, then you should plant your tree so that the main stem is at a 45 degree angle.

Cordon Apple trees are normally grown on a dwarfing rootstock, and are pruned every year. This makes cordon apple trees suitable for growing in confined spaces, or ideally as a boundary border - or against a fence or wall.

An added advantage of growing apple trees as cordons, is that they tend to produce a crop of apples quicker than if grown as a small tree in the normal upright position.

Cordon Trained Fruit Trees image, showing the support wires and training bamboo canes.A cordon Trained Fruit Tree, grown along wires to form a dividing border for two sections of the garden.

Because of the leaning angle of the cordon trained tree, some thought has to be given to supporting it. If grown along a wall or fence, then wires can be affixed to the wall and the tree supported on the wires. (Use strong galvanised fence straining wire.) Three - or even 4 wires at 2ft horizontal spacing will be ok. If you are growing your cordon apple tree as a boundary or border, then you will need strong support posts at either end of the straining wires. The tree should initially be supported and trained with a strong bamboo cane.

Cordon Apple trees require regular pruning - late summer is best. The regular pruning is to encourage the establishment of 'spurs' (fruiting growths) along the main trunk. Head all side shoots back to around 4in from the main trunk initially, and thereafter, all side shoots should be pruned back to the second or third buds.

Planting Cordon Apple Trees.

If grown in a row, then the trees need to be planted 900cm (3ft) apart, and preferably grow the row along North - South  orientation. Malling 9 rootstock is a good dwarfing rootstock for growing cordon apple trees, but if you buy from a good garden center or nursery, then they will have chosen the best root stock for the job.

If you start from scratch yourself, then avoid those varieties that are tip-bearing, because you will  be cutting the tips off with every pruning operation.

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