Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Category Archives: Apple varieties

Video: Planting new fruit trees – variety choice

Many new houses are being built in the UK, and so there are thousands of new gardens. It is very difficult to know which fruit tree varieties to plant. Here Dan Neuteboom shows us an apple varieties chart that provides some suggestions and that has proved over the years to be fairly accurate. It lists a series of apple varieties, shown according to the period at which their fruit ripens, and then their fruit keeping time, with the months from July right through to March. An important consideration in variety selection is fruit tree pollination – apples do better if they are properly pollinated, and in fact, adequate fruit trees cross-pollination is essential. As a rough fruit tree pollination guide, you should plant any three of the varieties shown if there are no other varieties close at hand. If there are already some apple trees in the vicinity, you can get away with planting two of the varieties on this list. Another important consideration regards blossom and frost-tolerant fruit trees. Everyone loves beautiful blossom, but if you are in a location that is frost-sensitive – and that means frosts in April and May – fruit trees have no problem at withstanding frosts in winter – it is best to choose varieties that are frost-resistant (marked “F” in this diagram). Examples of frost-tolerant fruit tree varieties are Discovery, Red Ellison and Spartan. Another factor is the location in terms of latitude. Some varieties can be planted nationwide, including northern districts. Varieties that do well in the north include Discovery, James Grieve, Worcester Pearmain, Lord Lambourne, Charles Ross and Egremont Russet. Lastly, there is the question of tree health. No-one likes to have to spray trees, and so it is best if this can be done only in the case of urgent need. Some trees by nature have little need for spraying, such as Ashmead Kernel, a compact tree that needs very little treatment, likewise Egremont Russet, Red Ellison and Discovery. In addition to a primary selection of varieties according to location, another very important factor is the soil of the new garden, essential for the success of new trees. This will be the subject of another video.

Video: Tydemans Late Orange – a biennial bearing apple variety

Dan Neuteboom compares two varieties, James Grieve and Tydemans Late Orange. The first tree is covered with blossom, the second has none at all – so-called biennial bearing. Why? Tydemans Late Orange is a variety that tends to crop well one year, and very little, or none, the following year. This is part of the tree’s genetic make-up and we have to put up with it. But Tydemans Late Orange has such good eating quality and good storage quality that it’s well worth growing in any case.

James Grieve is a summer apple, Tydemans Late Orange is a late autumn apple. Trees that mature their fruit late in the season often have better eating and keeping quality than the earlier fruiting trees. Another variety that shows the same tendency for biennial bearing is Laxton Superb: like Tydemans Late Orange, it’s worth waiting for.

Special feature trees

We are often asked about trees with certain characteristics, such as highly flavoured apples, red crisp apples, green eating apples and so forth. Here are some suggestions for trees of specific characteristics:

Highly flavoured apples
Ashmead Kernel, Egremont Russet, Herefordshire Russet, Winter Wonder, Suntan, Winter Gem

Green eating apples, sweet
Greensleeves, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith.

Green eating apples, sharp
James Grieve, Sturmer Pippin, Darcy Spice.

Green cooking apples
Genadier, Lord Derby, Warner King, Bramley, Bountiful, Arthur Turner, Reverend Wilks, Annie Elisabeth.

Red and partially coloured eating apples
Spartan, Worcester Pearmain, Fiesta, Red Pippin, Lord Lambourne, Red Windsor, Red Falstaff, Discovery, Royal Gala, Kidd’s Orange Red, Chiver’s Delight, Laxton Superb, Laxton Fortune, Sunset, Winston, Cox Orange Pippin ,Scrumptious, Winter Gem, Braeburn

Russet apples, whole or partial russet
Egremont Russet, Ashmead Kernel, Rosemary Russet, Duke of Devonshire, Suntan, Winter Wonder, Ellison’s Orange, Orlean’s Reinette.

General purpose apples, large
Howgate Wonder, Charles Ross, Blenheim Orange, Peasgood Nonsuch, Tom Put, Jonagold.

Mild cider apples
Katy, Greensleeves, Tom Putt

White blossom crab apples
Malus Everest

Red berry crab apples
Malus Robusta.

Crab apples for pots
Sun Rival

Crab apple jelly trees
John Downie

To find out more about the varieties that we can deliver, just visit our variety index and click on the links.

If you’d like to make a provisional order, just choose the varieties and fill out the web form on our Tree Variety page.

As always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you need more information.

Malus John Downie

Malus John Downie, photo courtesy of Andy/Andrew Fogg/

Herefordshire Russet

Herefordshire_RussetThis is an apple derived from a Cox-Idared cross, and it combines Cox-type flavour with the classic russet skin, rather like Egremont Russet. It crops well. It is a diploid, so almost fully self-fertile, though they will benefit from a pollinator. They are generally disease-resistant, but are prone to aphids. These are best controlled by ensuring a healthy population of lacewing and ladybirds whose larvae will keep them under control.

Photo courtesy of Marmaladefly/

Traditional large bush trees

Malus John Downie, photo courtesy of Andy/Andrew Fogg/

Malus John Downie, photo courtesy of Andy/Andrew Fogg/

Modern fruit trees are generally grown on a dwarfing or semi-dwarfing rootstock that keeps their size down to manageable levels and can be grown to produce a fairly flat table at a height convenient for picking without ladders. But sometimes we get requests for the traditional old English fruit tree, the sort that grows to an appreciable size and ends up with knarled branches that young children can even climb. An ideal tree for a village green with a good space around the tree to do Maypole-type dancing is the Granny Smith. The fruit hangs on the tree until Christmas without dropping and looks spectacular. However somewhere in a garden nearby there has to be a pollinator… otherwise no fruit!

A much better tree for a very large lawn or a village green is a John Downie crab apple. The fruit looks good and makes wonderful crab apple jelly.

Whatever your tree requirements, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information and on any special needs you have. And, as they say, the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, but the next best time is now, so don’t delay!

A reader writes about Suntan

A message from Mrs. T:

“I have just read your blog about “Suntan” and I have to agree with you that it the best tasting apple ever: crisp, juicy and sweet with a touch of clean sharpness. For some years my late husband and I would travel to an Crapes Orchard at Marks Tey, Essex, to collect two boxes. They were stored in my Hertfordshire garden shed and enjoyed over Christmas and well into the New Year. I have never seen this variety sold in any supermarket or shop. Sadly, I only have a small garden so I am unable to grow it for myself. However, for anyone who has space this is a wonderful apple worthy of all discerning apple lovers. Long may it survive!”

Thank you for your feedback.  Click here to read the original blog post about Suntan.

And this is another post on the same apple.

Suntan, photo courtesy of

Suntan, photo courtesy of

Tom Putt


Tom Putt, photo courtesy of

Tom Putt, photo courtesy of

This is a dual-purpose variety, introduced in Somerset in about 1700. The apples are suitable for cooking and eating (if you like sharp apples), and they make a good-tasting cider without any blending. The tree grows strongly. It is a triploid variety and so required two pollinators.

Click here to go to the Tree Varieties page, where you can select this and other varieties in a provisional order

Hereford Redstreak

Hereford Redstreak, photo courtesy of Dave/

Hereford Redstreak, photo courtesy of Dave/

Hereford Redstreak is a very old variety, with its origins going back to the 1600s. In the 17th century it was considered as the finest cider variety in England. or even earlier, originating from Hereford. It produces medium-sized fruit, that ends up by making a pink cider, often with a relatively high alcohol content. It is a diploid variety, so not self-fertile: another apple variety is required as a pollinator.

Click here to go to the Tree Varieties page, where you can select this and other varieties in a provisional order

Kingston Black

Kingston Black

Kingston Black, photo courtesy of Poverty Hill and Farnum Lane/

This valuable cider apple was introduced in 1880. It grows into a medium-sized spur-bearing tree, producting small, bitter-sharp fruit that keeps well. It is self-sterile, and so needs another apple variety planted close by for pollination.

Click here to go to the Tree Varieties page, where you can select this and other varieties in a provisional order



Dabinett, photo courtesy of Edmund French/

Dabinett, photo courtesy of Edmund French/

Dabinett, introduced in 1860 in Somerset (it was discovered by William Dabinett as a natural seedling in a hedge), grows into a small tree; it is a very fertile variety, and a regular cropper. It is diploid and self-fertile. It produces bitter-sweet fruit that is ready to harvest in late October-early November. Its quality is such that it is frequently used to make a mono-varietal cider.

Click here to go to the Tree Varieties page, where you can select this and other varieties in a provisional order