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Do I Need Two Apple Trees To Get Fruit?

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I just purchased a Granny Smith apple tree from the local grocery store. I've done some online researching and wanted to confirm whether or not I need to purchase another type of apple tree so they will both produce fruit. Thanks and regards!

Hardiness Zone: 7b

Penni from Hillsborough, NC


Hi Penny,

As you know, it doesn't matter how prolific an apple tree flowers, if those flowers are not pollinated, you won't get apples!

Apple trees are either 'self-fruitful', meaning they bear fruit after pollination occurs among their own flowers, or they are 'self unfruitful', meaning they require cross pollination from another apple or crab apple variety to produce fruit. Granny Smith apple trees happen to be a 'self-fruitful' variety. That means your chances of attaining a good fruit set year after year relies almost entirely on bees. They must find your lone apple tree and pollinate all of the flowers. More trees, equals more bees (hopefully). You will have a larger and much better fruit set each year if you planted another variety nearby (within 50 feet).

Contact the nursery where you bought your Granny Smith for recommendations on which varieties will make good pollination partners for your Granny Smith. The most important consideration when selecting a second variety is to find one with a similar bloom time. This is because the first (and largest) blossom to open on each flower cluster on an apple tree is called the king blossom. It is called the king blossom for a reason-it must be pollinated for that flower cluster to produce a fruit. Ideally, the bloom time for both varieties will occur at the same time, or at least overlap. You may want to try your Granny Smith alone for a season or two just to see what happens, but you are sure to get a much higher yield if you find a partner for it.

Good luck!



About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at


Recent Answers

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By Penni Hillsborough, NC (Guest Post)04/18/2008

I just wanted to thank you all for your replies. I planted just the one tree, for now. I guess I'll have to wait a season or two to determine whether or not it needs a mate. Or I can just learn a new hobby: become an apiarist! Nah.. my kids will never go outside! hehe Thanks again for all the wonderful info!

By Sarah Leach [8]04/18/2008

My family and I live in the heart of the fruitbelt in Southwestern Michigan. As a matter of fact our yard is "landscaped" with Fruit.

Growing up here, I worked for famly and friends on a LOT of farms. It depends on how much fruit you really want. You'll get better quality fruit also if you get a different kind of apple tree that, as Ellen mentioned, blooms at the same or a close time. And now to "nutshell" my comment: no. You don't NEED another tree, but it can help.

By Kathy [3]03/22/2008

We have "one" apple tree and it produces an abundance of apples each year. Like doodles said...the bees will pollinate them. Good luck

By doodles [8]03/17/2008

Refering to the "birds and the bees", it takes two, but remember bees will fly many, many miles in one day and will 'bee' carrying pollen from all over. I don't think you will necessarily need to have two (or more) right smack in your yard, unless it's what you want.

By joan pecsek [88]03/17/2008

My dad, who was a farmboy in NC, always said you need two -- one male and one female. Don't ask me how you can tell.

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