How To Grow Apple In Tropical Climate: A Complete Guide

Growing apples in the tropics can be challenging but rewarding if done right. Apples traditionally thrive in temperate climates with cold winters, so the hot and humid tropics provide a less than ideal environment. However, with careful variety selection, planting, care, and harvesting, it is possible to successfully grow sweet and flavorful tropical apples.

This guide covers everything you need to know about cultivating apples in tropical climate. We’ll start by looking at the ideal climate conditions like sunlight, temperature, and rainfall that are best suited to tropical apple trees. Next, we’ll go over recommended apple varieties that can tolerate and even flourish in hotter, more humid environments.

Proper planting, care including irrigation, fertilization, and pest management, as well as steps for pollination and pruning, will also be covered. Finally, we’ll discuss optimal harvesting times and post-harvest storage for maximizing the flavor and longevity of your tropical apple crop.


Ideal Tropical Climate Conditions For Growing Apples 

Apple trees need specific climate conditions to thrive in the tropics. Here are the ideal temperature, humidity, sunlight, and rainfall requirements:


  • Daytime temperatures between 65-85°F (18-30°C) are optimal for apple growth.
  • Nighttime lows should stay above 45°F (7°C) to avoid damaging flowers and fruitlets.
  • Sustained heat over 90°F (32°C) can reduce fruit set and quality. Provide shade if needed.


  • Apple trees prefer moderately humid climates between 40-60% humidity.
  • Too dry or too humid can make trees more prone to pests and diseases.


  • Apple trees need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. The morning sun is ideal.
  • Partial shade in very hot climates can prevent sunburn.


  • Annual rainfall between 30-60 inches is preferred. Adequate moisture is key.
  • Water regularly if rainfall is insufficient, especially during fruit development.
  • Excess rain can increase disease pressure. Improve drainage if needed.

Providing the right tropical climate conditions gives apple trees their best chance of thriving and producing abundant, high-quality fruit. Careful variety selection is also key, which we’ll discuss next.

Best Apple Varieties for the Tropics

When choosing apple varieties to grow in the tropics, it’s important to select types that can withstand hot, humid conditions and resist common diseases. Some top varieties include:

1) Tropical Beauty:

  • A semi-dwarf, high-yielding variety developed for tropical climates
  • Resistant to scab, black rot, powdery mildew, and fire blight
  • Ripens in mid to late-season
  • Crisp, sweet-tart flavor, good for eating fresh or cooking
  • Pollination partner: Anna

2) Anna:

  • Compact dwarf variety suitable for small spaces
  • High tolerance to heat and humidity
  • Ripens early season
  • Sweet, mild flavor for fresh eating
  • Pollinates well with Tropical Beauty

3) Dorsett Golden:

  • Vigorous, standard-size tree
  • Developed for subtropical regions
  • Resistant to fruit fly, scab, mildew, and fire blight
  • Mid-season harvest
  • Crisp, sweet, low-acid flavor
  • Good pollinator for other varieties

When selecting apples, choose disease-resistant dwarfs for smaller tropical gardens, or vigorous standards for larger orchards. Cross-pollinating varieties is also key. Tropical Beauty, Anna, and Dorsett Golden are excellent resilient varieties adapted to hot, humid climates.

Planting Apple Trees In Hot Tropical Climate

When planting apple trees in the tropics, you have two main options, using seedling trees or grafted trees. Grafted trees are generally recommended as they begin bearing fruit sooner. However, seedling trees can also do well in the right conditions.

Planting Site:

  • Select a site with full sun exposure. Apple trees need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. The morning sun is ideal.
  • Choose a spot with well-draining soil. Apple trees do not tolerate soggy, wet soils.
  • Allow enough space for the mature size of the tree, at least 10-15 feet between trees.

Soil Preparation:

  • Test the soil pH. Apple trees prefer a slightly acidic pH between 6.0 – 6.5.
  • Add organic matter like compost or manure to enrich the soil.
  • Dig a hole 2-3 times wider than the root ball of the young tree.
  • Mix some compost or fertilizer into the soil that will go back into the hole.

Related: How To Identify Fertile Soil Physically Without Carrying Out Soil

Planting Method:

  • Carefully remove the tree from the container, keeping the root ball intact.
  • Place the tree in the hole, ensuring the graft union is 2-4 inches above ground level.
  • Backfill the hole with the enriched soil. Firm the soil gently around the base.
  • Water deeply after planting to settle the roots.
  • Stake the tree for support for the first year.
  • Apply mulch around the base to retain moisture.
  • Water regularly for the first few weeks while the tree establishes.

Care and Maintenance of Apple Tree

Proper care and maintenance are critical for growing apple trees in the tropics. Here are some key things to focus on:

1) Watering

– Apple trees need consistent moisture, especially when the fruit is developing. Water young trees 2-3 times per week and mature trees 1-2 times per week. Provide more water during hot, dry periods.

– Give trees a deep watering that penetrates the soil 12-18 inches deep. Avoid frequent shallow watering.

– Monitor soil moisture levels before watering. Stick your finger into the soil to gauge moisture. Water when the top few inches become dry.

– Avoid overhead watering to minimize disease. Use drip irrigation or a soaker hose around the base of the tree.

2) Fertilizing

– Fertilize apple trees 3-4 times per year when active growth is occurring. Use a balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10.

– Spread fertilizer over the area under the tree canopy. Apply at label recommended rates.

– Organic options like compost, manure, bone meal, and blood meal also work well. Mix into the soil under the canopy. 

3) Pruning

  • Prune apple trees annually to remove dead, diseased, rubbing, and congested branches.
  • Prune to create an open center shape that allows light penetration and airflow.
  • Make pruning cuts just above outward-facing buds or branches. Avoid leaving branch stubs.
  • Disinfect pruning tools between trees to prevent disease spread.

4) Pest and Disease Control

– Common apple pests in the tropics include aphids, fruit flies, leaf miners, mites, and borers. Monitor trees frequently.

– Diseases like fire blight, scab, canker, and powdery mildew may also occur. Remove and destroy infected plant parts.

– Use neem oil, insecticidal soap, or Bacillus thuringiensis to control pests. Apply fungicides for disease prevention when conditions favor disease.

– Maintain proper tree health and sanitation to prevent pest/disease issues.

Pollination of Apple Trees

Apple trees require cross-pollination from different compatible apple varieties to produce fruit. Like most fruit trees, apples are self-incompatible, meaning pollen from the same tree or variety won’t successfully pollinate the blossoms.

For optimal pollination and fruit set, plant at least two different apple varieties that bloom at the same time in proximity to each other. Some good pollinator varieties include Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, and Granny Smith. Crabapples can also pollinate regular apple varieties.

During bloom season, bees and other pollinating insects move pollen from flower to flower on different varieties. You can assist pollination by hand-pollinating using a small brush. Collect pollen from the anthers of one variety and gently brush it onto the stigmas of a different variety. Focus on pollinating the central blossoms of flower clusters for best results.

Adequate pollination ensures your apple trees will develop fully-formed, nicely shaped-fruit. Monitor pollination each season and add supplemental pollinator varieties or practice hand-pollination if the fruit set is low.

Related: Best Apple Tree Companion Plants For High Pollination Rate

apple fruits

Harvesting Apple Fruits

Knowing when to harvest apples in the tropics is key to getting peak flavor and quality. Apples don’t continue to ripen after picking, so timing is important.

When to Harvest:

– For eating apples, harvest when the fruit feels firm and the skin has developed full color for the variety. Apples ready for harvest should snap cleanly off the branch with an upward twisting motion.

– For cooking apples like Granny Smiths, wait until the apples are larger and more mature before harvesting. These apples will feel hard rather than firm.

– Use the “days to maturity” info for your variety as a guideline, but always do the snap test. Tropical growing conditions can accelerate or delay typical harvest windows.

– Pick apples in the cool of the morning for the best storage life. Avoid picking right after rain.

Harvesting Method:

Pick apples by hand, twisting gently upward and outward. Be careful not to damage branches or knock fruit off trees onto the ground. Use a harvesting basket strapped over your shoulder to free both hands.

– Leave the stem attached to apples for storage, don’t pull the fruit off. The stem seals the interior and slows water loss.

– Handle picked apples gently to avoid bruising. Avoid dropping them into the basket.

– Use ladders, picking tools, or carefully climb into the tree to reach high branches. Don’t let fruit pile up and crush lower apples.

Maximizing Fruit Quality:

– Pick frequently as apples ripen – every couple of days once they start coloring up. Don’t let them get overripe.

– Remove any damaged, bruised, or insect-infested apples first and discard them. This prevents rot from spreading.

– Keep harvested apples in a cool, shaded area out of direct sun until ready to store them properly. Refrigerate to maximize freshness if eating within a couple of weeks.

– Wash apples just before eating. Washing immediately after harvest spreads rot-causing bacteria around.

Storage of Apple Fruits

Proper storage is key to maximizing the shelf life of tropical apples. After harvest, apples should be cooled as quickly as possible to stop the ripening process. Store apples in a cool, humid location, ideally around 30-35°F with 90-95% humidity. The cooler the storage conditions, the longer apples will keep without shriveling or rotting.

Choose storage containers that allow airflow, like slatted crates or baskets. Avoid using sealed plastic bags. Wrap individual apples in newspaper or perforated plastic bags to retain moisture and slow ripening.

Check stored apples regularly and remove any that show signs of rot. Discard apples with skin punctures or bruising as they will spoil quickly. Also avoid storing apples with ripened fruit, as they give off ethylene gas that accelerates ripening.

With ideal humidity and temperature conditions, tropical apples can retain quality in storage for 2-3 months after harvest. Proper post-harvest care maximizes shelf life so tropical apple crops can be enjoyed long after the growing season ends.

Common Apple Tree Pests and Disease Problems

Growing apple trees in the tropics can lead to some common issues that need to be managed. Here are some of the main problems to watch out for:

1) Pests

– Fruit flies: These small flies lay eggs in the ripening fruit, causing the apples to rot from the inside out. Monitor fruit carefully as it ripens and pick promptly. Remove fallen and rotting fruit from the area.

– Codling moth: The larvae of this moth burrow into apples and cause damage. Use pheromone traps and botanical sprays like neem oil to help control them.

– Scale insects: These immobile insects attach themselves to branches and leaves, sucking sap. Prune and destroy infested branches. Use horticultural oils or insecticidal soap sprays to control them.

Related: How To Keep Bugs Away From Apple Trees


– Apple scab: This fungal disease causes spots and blemishes on leaves, fruit, twigs, and branches. Plant resistant cultivars and apply fungicides.

– Powdery mildew: This fungus coats leaves with white powdery growth. Improve air circulation and apply sulfur sprays to control it.

– Anthracnose: Fungal infection that causes dark, sunken lesions on leaves, fruit, and twigs. Prune infected parts and apply fungicides.

Other Issues

– Sunburn: Fruit exposed to intense, direct tropical sun can develop sunburn. Plant in partial shade or whitewash tree trunks.

– Splitting fruit: Rapid growth from heat and rain can cause fruit splitting. Pick fruit once mature and store it properly to prevent splitting.

– Poor pollination: Lack of pollinators can lead to poor fruit set. Hand-pollinate flowers using a brush. Plant pollinator-attracting flowers nearby.

Related: Best Fast Growing Apple Trees For Backyard Gardening


I hope you find this article insightful. Follow these tips and with patience and perseverance, you can enjoy the delicious fruits of apple trees, even in the tropics.

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