I planted the first Nanking Cherries of this year in my yard yesterday. They were just outgrowing the six-inch pots I was using. I had a bunch and thought it would be just as easy to replace some of the apple trees that died last winter instead of repotting. I was thinking to plant them out next spring but they are already crowding their roots in the pots.
In the process I discovered that my apples had not actually died but “died back”. The tops died but there were many sprouts underground coming up from the roots. They were essentially “coppiced“. However, they have proven not tough enough for our winters so I replaced them with the cherries. The new recruits are over a foot tall and have more than a dozen leaves. Not bad for trees that were seeds back in May. At the rate the roots are expanding the trees could be two feet tall by winter. Let’s hope they have enough time to harden before the big chill in November.
I have several more apples that “died”. I may substitute the cherries in those cases too. None of the apples I planted from seed have shown the ambition of the Nanking Cherries. The apples were essentially Macintosh (zone 4 – 7) derivatives and clearly not tough enough for zone 3 where I live. Global warming may have allowed them to live a few years in my yard but none had more than two years growth above ground despite massive roots. The second one I dug up had a root one inch in diameter yet showed nothing above ground. You just can’t harvest apples that way. I suppose I could move them to land further south but I’m heading to the north if I move or expand my land-holding.