I'm growing some apple trees from seed and started this year. I'm worried that the width of their stems (or trunks, but they're too small to really call them "trunks") is too small in proportion to their size. This leads me to wonder how big a tree can grow in one year, with an emphasis on its first year, and what is necessary to make them grow the most.

To recap, my questions:

  • How much bigger around does a tree normally grow over the course of a year? Specifically its first year?
  • What leads trees to grow bigger around? Nutrients, hormones?
  • How should a tree be treated to promote the most outward trunk growth?

2 Answers 2


Nutrient availability, water supply, climate conditions all influence the growth of tree trunks. Cut a mature tree through the middle and you can tell by the width of the rings (which are growth rings) what conditions were like in any given year since the tree started growing.

However, as far as seedlings are concerned, one important thing is something called thigmomorphogenesis, which is a long word to describe something relatively simple - air movement and its effect on plants. If moving air (not gale force, obviously) is gently wafted around and about as a seedling grows, then the stem or trunk becomes stronger and thicker. If your seedlings are outside, not sheltered, then they'll be getting this anyway, and so long as they have access to sufficient water and nutrients, then they'll grow away normally and the trunk will thicken over time.

  • Is there any way to promote above-normal growth?
    – Throsby
    Commented Jun 22, 2013 at 1:08
  • 1
    Not really - only be giving optimum nutrition and water, and enough root room (so pot on when necessary), the rest is down to climate.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Jun 22, 2013 at 13:02

Growing apple trees from seed makes absolutely no sense. It would takes years before the tree would flower and produce fruit. All flowering and fruiting trees are produced by grafting a bud from a mature tree onto a one or two year old seedling.Visit any plant nursery and you will see that every flowering and fruit tree has a graft towards the bottom of the trunk.

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