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I have a 2 metre high apple tree grown from seed in an aquaponic system that is about 2 years old. It has a large root mass which is removing nutrients/nitrates etc to keep the water clean for my gold fish. But I'd like to know if it's possible to transplant it into dirt as it's getting too tall for my aquaponic setup, and if so, the method.

aquaponic apple tree

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Yes, of course.

However, you will likely need to stake it until the roots are stabilized in the ground. In case you aren't familiar with this, put two stout poles in the ground on opposite sides of the tree and perpendicular to the line of the normal wind direction. I like the rubber ties that look chain-like, but you can use just about any convenient ties as long as you take care that it doesn't abrade the bark on the trunk. You should progressively loosen these constraints so the tree increasingly has to stand on its own. The tree should be capable of standing on its own and the support removed before fall (2016).

I caution you about planting it too deeply. The root collar should be at the ground level and not below it. Planting too deeply can suffocate the roots, killing the tree. Just dig an area deeply enough to accomplish these ends. Sit the tree in, spread the roots out evenly, and cover with the topsoil you removed to make the hole.

  • Is there a best season to do this? It has a large root mass, and it's now summer. Do I need to remove any leaves or reduce anything? – Graham Chiu Jan 10 '16 at 1:22
  • The best time is during a rainy season. The high relative humidity at those times reduces transpirational demands that damaged roots might not be able to meet otherwise. Since your tree is bare root, the process of planting it should do minimal damage to the roots, so you could plant it pretty much whenever you want or need to. – Jim Young Jan 10 '16 at 18:08

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