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How to: grow stepover apples

Photo - Photos Lamontagne/

Bob Magnus (owner of Woodbridge, Tasmania) sells four different varieties of apples grafted onto extra-dwarf rootstock. 

These trees are designed to grow as a one-metre-high hedge. They are pretty and productive in an edible or ornamental garden. Choose all four for many months of fresh apples. 

Here’s how Bob recommends growing apples as a stepover.

1. Choose your varieties and order. Woodbridge opens for orders in April.

2.Set up a wire, attached to posts, at a height of one metre. Choose a spot with full sun and rich soil. Because the plants will be encouraged to fruit early, they’ll need the same kind of water and nutrition as vegetables so it’s a good idea to plant low-growing, fast-maturing vegetables around them to remind you to look after them.

3.In winter plant the one-year-old, one-metre high, single-stemmed apples at 45 degrees, about 1.5 metres apart. Tie them on to the wire. The picture, above, taken in France, shows apples planted straight, not at 45 degrees. Bob says the angled planting works better.

4.In summer prune the upward growing growth back to a stub. These stubs will become fruiting spurs.

5.The trees will flower in the spring, develop their fruit over summer and be ready to harvest in late autumn. The trees will soon become a dense fruiting hedge.



Huonville crab

This red-skinned, red-fleshed apple is a Tasmanian original, a hybrid between a crabapple and a cultivated apple, with fruit that is bigger than a crabapple – and better to eat!


Rome beauty

The Rome in this apple’s past isn’t in Italy, but on the banks of the Ohio River in the US. It’s a large red fruit, and the tree crops well.


Woodbridge winter pippin

This apple is good for eating, as well as juicing, cooking, or turning into cider - and it keeps well.


Pink Lady

Australia’s most famous apple is a cross between a Lady Williams and Golden Delicious.  


Climate warning! Apples like a chilly winter, so gardeners who never experience frosty conditions should leave apples for the cool-climate dwellers.

Text: Robin Powell

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Author: Robin Powell