Empire Apple Tree

Availability: Out of stock
SKU
141143-001

With the Empire Apple Tree (Malus 'Empire'), you get the best two of the world's most beloved Apple varieties: the Red Delicious and the Macintosh. Because it offers the best characteristics of both of its parents, you know this is an apple that won't remain in your fruit bowl for long. It offers longer-lasting fruit and a super sweet taste with a crisp snap of firm flesh inside.

You'll praise the crimson red skin and its dove white flesh. The taste is the one you remember from your childhood - sweet and desert-like, easily preferable to the snacks that you might reach for in the vending machine.

Nothing is better than the taste of apples picked fresh from the tree. You also get the added benefit of knowing what does or does not go into your apples before they made their way into your family's hands and it's also a great investment in your family's health and culinary pleasure for years or even generations to come.

Planting and Application:

At maturity, this compact tree is sized just right for the suburban or urban garden, but you can keep it even smaller with a simple summer prune. Like most Macintosh offspring, it is happy to set many, many little apples for you if you let it. You'll want to thin out the crop each year to get bigger and better apples.

The early spring white blossoms are fragrant and a favorite of bees, plus the shade producing lush green leaves all growing seasons end the year with some yellow fall color! This all-purpose apple is excellent as a snack for fresh eating, in fruit salads, minced into sauces, ciders, baking and it even freezes well!

  • Vivid Red Delicious Fruit
  • Bright White Flavorful Flesh
  • Fragrant White Blossoms
  • Compact-Sized Tree
  • Fresh Eating, Baking & Sauces

#ProPlantTips for Care:

Empire is an easy-to-grow tree that remains a steadfast favorite among growers. It requires full sun and cool autumn nights for optimal growth. While it is partially self-fertile, you'll want to give it a pollination partner to increase your fall yield. Hardy USDA zones 4 - 9.

  • Full Sun
  • Plant in Well-Drained Soil
  • Regular Water & Fertility
  • ~800 Chill Hours
  • Prune When Dormant

Empire Apple Trees are a fan favorite and a reliable producer. Order your own today from NatureHills.com and pick up its pollinator while you're at it!

Empire Apple Tree Frequently Asked Questions

When to Plant Empire Apple Trees

Planting Bareroot trees as soon as you can dig a hole in spring and until hot weather, the earlier the better. Plant container Apple trees throughout the growing season with complete success - that is the benefit of container plants - to extend the planting season. Your County Agricultural Extension Office is a great resource for first and last frost dates in your area.

How to Plant Empire Apple Trees

Dig a large hole only as deep as needed to accommodate the bareroot or container root ball, and twice as wide. Add Nature Hills Root Booster to speed root establishment. Remove the pot or bag and situate it into the hole so the top of the soil (soil line if bareroot), is level with the new location's soil being careful not to plant too deep. Water in again very well and backfill with the same soil you dug up, tamping down gently to ensure there are no air pockets.

Top off with a 3-4 inch thick layer of Arborist mulch. Consider staking your tree to keep its trunk growing straight for the first year to ensure it stands tall against strong winds and drifting snow.

When to Prune Empire Apple Trees

Trim off any broken branches from delivery as soon as you take them out of the box. Prune and trim apple trees while dormant, in late winter or early spring, before you see new growth.

How to Prune Empire Apple Trees

Dormant prune to:

  • Remove any double leaders or narrow crotch angles
  • Eliminate any crossing branches
  • Thin interior branching and leave the fruiting spurs and strong branches in place opening up the canopy
  • Branching at least 24-36 inches above the ground

Prune Apple trees in the summer to:

  • Control size and shape by reducing the length of longer new growth on vigorous trees
  • Remove water sprouts on the main trunk or older branches in the crown
  • Remove suckers at the base of the trunk
  • Thin fruit during heavy years on established trees

How to Care for Empire Apple Trees

Growing an apple tree is easy when proper soil, good drainage, attention to moisture, and regular fertility are maintained. Once you've chosen an apple tree that works for your climate, in the size you need for your landscape, and its pollinator (if needed), then you've accomplished half the battle!

  • Apple trees do best in full sun and well-drained soil
  • Water your apple trees when it gets dry - especially during the fruit production stage, and drought periods to keep it stress-free
  • Use arborists' wood chips to mulch over the roots of your apples and have your soil tested to see what your soil may be lacking before adding fertilizers
  • Maintenance pruning and shaping

Apple trees will tolerate a wide range of soils, so long as water and nutrients are not limited and the pH level is adequate.

How to Fertilize Empire Apple Trees

For the first year, water alone is most important. It is always best to get a soil test to see what your soil is lacking before adding more fertilizers. Once established, a fertilizer routine may be beneficial. We do offer some excellent slow-release organic options, applied according to the package directions.

Fruit trees need more phosphate and it's possible to apply too much nitrogen which affects the soil's pH. Test soil acidity or alkalinity using a pH Tester.

Fertilize in spring when you first see new growth emerging.

  • Don't overdo it
  • Phosphates are your friends
  • Pay attention to pH in areas with extremely high or low soil pH
  • Follow the directions

Empire Apple Tree Pollinating Info

Empire is not self-fruiting and needs a pollinating partner. Pair with one of these varieties:

Harvest Times for Empire Apple Trees

Empire's are typically ready to harvest in August.

Early-Season? Mid-Season? Late-Season? The terminology can be confusing for new apple tree growers. Weather, climate and your tree determine when it's ripe.

For Apples:

  • Early-season is usually June-July
  • Mid-season can be August-September
  • Late-season can be from late September-November

The growing season consists of spring, summer, and fall, and varies with climate and weather. Areas with longer growing seasons in the warmer hardiness zones can greatly affect the harvest times for each particular apple variety grown in your area. Learn which growing zone you are in.

What Shipping Options Do You Offer?

NatureHills.com works closely with our growers and nursery professionals to ensure we ship when it is most appropriate for your area. Our goal is to deliver the hardiest plants by avoiding extreme high and low temperatures. Check out our shipping schedule for more information and to learn our wills and won'ts when it comes to shipping plants. Find your Empire Apple Tree for sale here at NatureHills.com!

Buying Options for Plants

Nature Hills sells a large variety of plants with several options available. Plants are offered in both potted containers and as dormant bare root without soil. Here is a helpful resource to understand your options as you create a beautiful landscape with help from Nature Hills.

Ever wonder what a larger plant will mean for your landscape? Container Sizes are really all about the age of the plant!

Seasonally, Nature Hills offers hand selected, high quality bare root trees, shrubs and perennials. Bare root plants are sold by height from the top of the root system to the top of the plant. Plants may be taller than the height minimums.

  • Popular sizes of select trees are 1 foot, 2 feet, 3 feet, etc.
  • Popular sizes of select bare root plants is 1 foot, 18 inches, etc.

Nature Hills Container Size by Volume

Keep in mind, specific varieties and different growing conditions can affect the rate at which plants grow. Variations in size may occur.

Young Plants to 18 Months
Size Volume
2"x2"x3" Ranges from .18 to .21 dry quarts / .198 to .23 dry liters in volume
4.5" Container Equal to .65 dry quart / .72 dry liter in volume
Sprinter Pot Equal to .63 dry quart / .69 dry liter in volume
4" Container Ranges from .31 to .87 / .35 to .96 dry liter in volume
6" Container Equal to 1.4 dry quarts / 1.59 dry liters in volume
1 Quart Equal to 1 dry quart / 1.1 dry liter in volume
5.5" Container Equal to 1.89 of a dry quart / 2.08 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x5" Ranges from .8 to 1.1 dry quarts / .88 to 1.2 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x6" Ranges from 1.0 to 1.3 dry quarts / 1.1 to 1.41 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x9" Ranges from 1.1 to 2.1 dry quarts / 1.2 to 2.3 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x10" Ranges from 1.7 to 2.3 dry quart / 1.87 to 2.53 dry liters in volume
Plants 18 Months - 2.5 Years Old
Size Volume
2 Quart Equal to 2 dry quarts / 2.2 dry liters in volume
#1 Container Ranges from 2.26 to 3.73 dry quarts / 2.49 to 4.11 dry liters in volume
5"x5"x12" Equal to 3.5 to 4.3 dry quarts / 3.85 to 4.74 dry liters in volume
Plants 2 - 4 Years Old
Size Volume
#2 Container Ranges from 1.19 to 1.76 dry gallons / 5.24 to 7.75 dry liters in volume
#3 Container Ranges from 2.32 to 2.76 dry gallons / 10.22 to 12.16 dry liters in volume
Plants 3 - 5 Years Old
Size Volume
#5 Container Ranges from 2.92 to 4.62 dry gallons / 12.86 to 20.35 dry liters in volume
#7 Container Ranges from 5.98 to 6.08 dry gallons / 26.34 to 26.78 dry liters in volume

About Plant Sentry™

Plant Sentry is designed to protect both consumers and the nursery trade from invasive plant pests and diseases. Sites that display the Plant Sentry protection badge are protected from consumers buying and nurseries shipping material carrying invasive pests and diseases.

This proprietary eCommerce software prevents the shipment of a restricted plant to each state. The Plant Sentry system includes a shipment certification program. The Plant Sentry Compliance Officer works closely with NatureHills.com and each nursery or fulfillment center to ensure only compliant plants are sold to customers.

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Plant Sentry

Shipping

To obtain a more accurate shipment time-frame, simply enter your zip code in the “Find Your Growing Zone” box to the right. Our plants are grown all over the country and lead time on items may be different because of this. Once your order is placed, you will also receive the specific shipment time-frame information as part of your order confirmation. Once an item ships, you will receive shipment notification and tracking numbers, so you can follow along while your plant travels to your doorstep. We use FedEx, UPS, or USPS at our discretion.

Shipping Rates

At Nature Hills we handle, package and ship the products you order with the utmost care to ensure healthy delivery. Shipping and handling charges are calculated based on the tables below. Please note that some items include an additional handling surcharge, these will be noted on the item's product page.

From To S&H
0 - 19.99 18.99
20 - 49.99 21.99
50 - 69.99 24.99
70 - 99.99 29.99
100 - 129.99 34.99
130 - 149.99 41.99
150 - 150+ Approx 27%

Click here to see our full rates

Dedication to the Delicious Empire Apple

The Empire Apple is a classic example of natural selection and how long it takes to get a great new variety to market. The Empire apple is named after the Empire State of New York and was originally a project started by a Cornell University fruit nutritionist, Lester C. Anderson.

Anderson conducted his own research on different personal orchards, one being an orchard of Red Delicious and McIntosh apples. He was looking for the best attributes of these two successful varieties and made seed available to the University. His effort would result in one of the most successful apple varieties to come out of Cornell University Apple research program.

In 1945, A.J. Heinicke, the director of Cornell's acclaimed Agricultural Experimental Station in Geneva, went to Lester's orchard that was solely Red Delicious and McIntosh Apples. Heinicke had been the director of the Geneva research station since 1921 and was a noted pomology researcher whose work in how to maintain healthy apple trees would go on to influence generations of apple scientists.

From this orchard Heinicke harvested a large quantity of fruit, removed the seed, ran tests to determine the viability and planted out thousands of seedlings. In 1947, about 1200 of the seedlings were selected for further review and planted out at the Geneva station. Then another review and selection done in 1954 with these selections being reviewed for another 12 years.

Finally, a contemporary of Heinicke, Roger Way, who had been with the Geneva program since 1949, made another selection in 1966 and from this selection, seedling #45500-5, became the Empire Apple that was to be released at the New York State Fair in 1966.

Cornell introduced the Empire Apple for the first time, six years after A.J. Heinicke retired. He did however remain active with the University during his retirement and saw the introduction of what would be hailed as the most successful apple introduction to come out of Cornell's Geneva research program; taking 20 years from conception to introduction. No information is found to say if Lester Anderson would see his cross go into production. Heinicke would pass in February of 1971.

PLANT HIGHLIGHTS

Empire Apple Tree Is Suited to Grow in Zones 4-9
Growing Zones 4-9
More Information
Brand Nature Hills' Choice
Botanical Name Malus 'Empire'
Type Deciduous
Rootstock M7
Mature Height 12 - 15 feet
Mature Spread 12 - 15 feet
Sun Exposure Full Sun
Soil Widely Adaptable
Moisture Low Once Established
Growth Rate Medium
Flower Color White
Foliage Color Green
Fall Color Yellow
Harvest Time Mid Season
Pollinator Friendly Yes
Fruiting Time Mid Season
Pruning Time When Dormant
Fragrant Yes