Empire is an apple known for its deep purple-red color, crisp but juicy texture, sweet and somewhat pineappley flavor, and its ability to be knocked around in lunch box without bruising. Empire apples also store well in the refrigerator, though the flavor is better when fresh—and you don’t get any fresher than picked off your own tree! We are pleased to offer this quality, relatively easy-to-grow Apple tree as part of our First Fruits™ line of fruit trees. If you’ve never grown Apple trees before, Empire is a good beginner’s tree, especially if you live in the Northeastern U.S., where this tree does best.
- Hardiness Zone: 4-7
- Spacing: 15-20'
- Exposure: Full Sun
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The Empire Apple was developed in the Empire State many years ago, and New York is still the area where this variety is primarily grown commercially. Lester Anderson of Cornell University crossed a McIntosh Apple with a Red Delicious Apple in 1945 to get the ball rolling, and more than 20 years and thousands of seedlings later, Empire was chosen for release. (This is why you probably shouldn’t bother growing Apple trees from seed—even after a carefully planned cross, you’ll get a LOT of duds!)
While some Apple trees only bear heavily every other year (“biennial bearing”), Empire has proven to be a reliable producer every year. Its fruits will keep until January in the fridge and are used for fresh snacking and in salads, pies, and applesauce.
How to Grow
Your First Fruits™ Empire Apple tree is “partially self-fertile,” meaning that even without another pollinator tree nearby, it will set some fruit. To ensure optimum fruit set, you can plant a different Apple or Crabapple variety in your yard to contribute pollen. Empire blooms mid-season, and its flowering time overlaps with several Crabapples you may use as pollen donors, such as Royal Raindrops®, Prairie Fire, or Louisa. Always plant Apple trees in sunny sites with good air circulation to discourage disease. Irrigate regularly, but don’t overwater. Our fruit tree experts here at Bower & Branch™ are happy to answer any questions you have about Apple tree care. Please don’t hesitate to ask!
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Size A Trees:
5-6’ tall. Grown and shipped in our #7 fruit tree container. You can expect fruiting in your very first year! Pruned for fruit production. The hard work has been done for you, time to enjoy.
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