Apple trees for southern California

Apple trees which are suitable for growing in southern California and other Mediterranean climates, and can tolerate high summer heat and short winters.
Bramley's Seedling apple tree
Late-season  (3)  
Cook | Juicing | Cider |  Sold out

England's most famous cooking apple is very happy growing in Southern California.
Gala apple tree
Mid-season  (4)  
Eat | Juicing  |  Sold out

Gala is popular supermarket apple - but better when home-grown, with a sweet pleasant flavour.
Granny Smith apple tree
Very late-season  (3)  SF  
Eat | Cook  |  Sold out

Granny Smith is the world-famous green apple from Australia, a good choice for warmer apple-growing regions.
Honeycrisp apple tree
Late-season  (4)  
Eat  |  Sold out

Honeycrisp is a new cold-hardy disease-resistant apple - it shows just how good modern apples have become.
Spitzenburg apple tree
Late-season  (4)  
Eat | Cook | Juicing  |  Sold out

Esopus Spitzenberg is one of the best-flavored American heirloom apples, and a favourite of Thomas Jefferson.
Cripps Pink apple tree
Very late-season  (3)  
Eat | Juicing  |  Sold out

Cripps Pink is one of the best-known modern apple varieties, well-suited to the warmer apple-growing regions.
Cripps Red apple tree
Very late-season  (3)  
Eat | Cook  |  Sold out

Cripps Red is a late-season dessert apple from Australia, with a crisp dense flesh and a good flavor.
Fuji apple tree
Very late-season  (3)  
Eat  |  Sold out

Developed in Japan, but with all-American parents, Fuji is a very attractive apple with a good sweet flavor.
GoldRush apple tree
Very late-season  (4)  
Eat | Cook | Cider |  Sold out

The best Golden Delicious-style variety for growing in Southern California.
Gravenstein apple tree
Early-season  (1)  
Eat | Cook  |  Sold out

Gravenstein is a high-quality early-season eating and cooking apple, with an excellent strong apple flavor.
King of Tompkins County apple tree
Late-season  (3)  
Cook | Juicing  |  Sold out

An heirloom apple from New York state, primarily used for cooking.
Arkansas Black apple tree
Late-season  (3)  
Eat | Cook | Juicing | Cider |  Sold out

Grows well in Southern California, with a lighter texture and flavor.
Enterprise apple tree
Very late-season  (4)  
Eat | Cook  |  In stock

Grows as reliably in southern California as it does everywhere else.
Liberty apple tree
Late-season  (2)  
Eat | Juicing  |  Sold out

A popular disease-resistant variety that grows well in warm climates. The best McIntosh-style apple for Southern California.
Wickson Crab crab-apple tree
Late-season  (2)  
Juicing | Cider |  Sold out

The California climate brings out the inherent sweetness of Wickson Crab.

More about Apple trees for southern California

As a rule most apple varieties prefer a climate where there is a definite winter period with temperatures around or below freezing, and summer temperatures not exceeding the low 90s. In contrast Southern California has a "Mediterranean" climate, with long hot dry summers and mild winters. Typical of a Mediterranean climate, almost the entire annual rainfall occurs in winter.

The key challenge for growing apple trees in this climate is the high summer temperatures and long growing season, which can play havoc with the flavor and texture of varieties which are not suited to it.

Southern California's mild winters mean it is a low-chill climate, with fewer than 600 hours of winter temperatures below 40F. Although low-chill varieties may be preferred for this reason, the lack of winter chill is more of an issue for the choice of rootstock than the choice of scion variety. It seems that more vigourous rootstocks are needed to counteract the loss of vigour induced by the low-chill climate. In addition, once the tree starts fruiting in this climate it won't grow much more, another reason for choosing more vigorous rootstocks.

Fortunately there are number of good quality apple varieties which are quite happy in these conditions, which we list here. Perhaps surprisingly, the climate of the place of origin of an apple variety is not a reliable indicator of whether it will thrive in southern California (although apples from Australia do consistently well). We are grateful to Kevin Hauser of Kuffel Creek for these recommendations.