Transplanting tips for espalier
I have five young apple trees that I intend to espalier—‘Jonagold’, ‘Liberty’, ‘Mutsu’, ‘Red Fuji’, and ‘Spigold’—planted in a temporary location. What is the best way to transplant these trees, and which types are best suited for espalier?
Catherine Fulbrigh, Issaquah, WA
With a long-bladed shovel, root-prune a tree that you plan to move.
Photo/Illustration: Christine Erikson
Lee Reich, Ph.D., horticulturist and author of The Prunning Book, replies: To paraphrase Archimedes: “Give me enough earth, and I can move any tree.” For a tree with a trunk 3 inches in diameter, plan on moving a root ball that is 2 to 3 feet wide. Root-pruning the trees in late winter a year before you plan to move them will contain the roots. Do this by pushing a long-bladed shovel into the ground in a circle 1-1/2 feet out from the trunk. In the late winter of the next year, dig each plant out before the leaves appear. Place the tree into a new hole large enough to accommodate the root ball. When replanting a tree to espalier, make sure to leave a foot of space between the wall or framework and the trunk to ensure good air circulation.
Espalier, the training of a tree or vine into an orderly, two dimensional form, is an attractive way to decorate with a plant. The flowering and fruiting habits of the varieties ‘Liberty’ and ‘Jonagold’ are best suited for espalier. You cannot create as tight and neat a form with ‘Mutsu’, ‘Red Fuji’, and ‘Spigold’.
From Fine Gardening 57, pp. 12