Apple Trees in Winter: Can They Survive?

By: Shelby McCullough| Published: December 19, 2022

Will your apple tree survive the winter? Contact a certified arborist from McCullough Tree Service for a free estimate. Call 407-734-5854 today.

apple trees in winter

The question of whether apple trees in winter temperatures will survive depends on various factors, including the tree variety, your location, and how you care for your tree. Many types of apple trees do well in a cold climate, but a lack of proper care and preparation may leave your tree struggling to thrive.

Here at McCullough Tree Service, we help Orlando residents care for their non-native and native trees in Florida

Can Apple Trees Survive the Winter?

Yes, an apple tree can survive the winter in various climates. Different varieties of apple trees thrive in hardiness zones three through nine, which cover the United States. Whether you live in Florida or the Midwest, you can successfully grow a fruit-bearing apple tree.

Like other trees in winter, apple trees lose their leaves in the fall and go dormant when temperatures drop below a specific temperature. Some varieties can tolerate freezing temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit, but apple trees generally thrive the most at moderate winter temperatures between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. 

What Are Chilling Hours?

Not only can apple trees thrive in the winter, but they also need cooler temperatures to produce their tasty fruit. Like other fruit trees, an apple tree needs around 500 to 1,000 chilling hours to produce hormones essential for leaf and fruit growth. 

A chilling hour occurs when temperatures drop below 45 degrees but not below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Apple trees that don’t receive enough chilling hours during winter may take longer to bloom and produce underdeveloped buds.

How to Protect Apple Trees in Winter

Despite their hardiness, consistent freezing and thawing cycles can wreak havoc on apple trees in winter. If exposed to frigid temperatures regularly, an apple tree may develop cracks in its trunk, become more vulnerable to diseases and pests, and produce small fruit. 

Luckily, you can take certain steps to ensure winter protection for your apple trees. These steps include the following:

  • Avoid pruning right before a significant temperature drop. 
  • Avoid pruning before the tree goes dormant for the winter.
  • Clean fallen fruit and leaves from beneath the tree.
  • Insulate the roots by laying mulch (wood chips) around the tree.

If you need help preparing a fruit tree for the climate where you live, call in a tree service expert. 

Let McCullough Tree Service Care for Your Apple Tree

Now that you understand how to care for apple trees in winter, you can better prepare your fruit trees for the cold months. If you need help with your fruit trees in Orlando, trust our experts at McCullough Tree Service. We have the experience and arborist expertise to help keep your apple tree thriving. 

If you’re considering planting a fruit tree on your Florida property, visit this guide on fruit tree spacing, and let our tree service professionals handle your pruning and maintenance needs. Call us at 407-734-5854 for a free estimate.

Shelby McCullough

About The Author: Shelby McCullough

With over two decades of experience in the tree industry, Shelby McCullough is a highly skilled certified arborist and the proprietor of McCullough Tree Service. His unparalleled expertise and profound understanding of trees set him apart in his field.