The concept of Stepover Apple Trees is not a new one; the rootstock used however is. Step – over apples are simply cordon trained trees, they are not really a new variety of apple tree.
Cordon training has been around for centuries, it a way of growing fruit trees, including apple trees on a horizontal wire. The Step – over part comes from how low that wire is positioned, so low that you can literally ‘Step Over’ the apple tree.
So why would you want to grow apple tree this way?
- Firstly, Stepover Apple Trees are great garden design concept; you can create low borders with fruit trees. A productive border is always a good idea.
- Secondly, the method allows you to grow apple trees in positions where an upright tree may not be desirable, or suitable.
How to grow Stepover apple trees.
You will need an apple tree grown on a dwarfing rootstock. You are trying to train a tree to reach less than 50 cm in height, so a vigorous growing type is not suitable.
You will need some permanent supports. Posts and wires that will last.
- Start by placing the posts around 2m apart. Use steel garden posts,or a long lasting timber such as cypress pine.
- Run the wire between the two posts at around 40 – 50 cm high. We suggest using a stainless steel wire, the type used for decking, available at most hardware stores.
- Depending on where you buy your tree, it may already have the initial pruning carried out. You will be growing a 1 year old tree because their new growth is very flexible.
- The 1 year old tree, or ‘Whip’ is pruned to buds at around 30 – 40 cm high. The two horizontal growths that shoot from this, form the low branches of the Stepover tree.
- In its second year, let new shoots develop from the stem. These are then tied down to the wires using a soft tie such as pantyhose.
- The horizontal growths are progressively tightened down to the wire. They are allowed to grow out to around 50 – 70 cm and then pruned back to strong bud.
- The tree will send out shoots upwards, all along the horizontal growth. These new shoots will be the fruiting spurs.
- Prune these back each year to a good strong bud.
You can buy trees suitable for a Step Over Apple tree from the following nurseries
Mail order fruit tree nursery with over 200 temperate climate fruit trees.
Heritage varieties and dwarf fruit trees. Apple Trees, Stone Fruit, Nut Trees and Berry Fruit.