For most parts of North America spring is the best time to plant new apple trees. The exact month for planting depends on where you live and our spring shipping dates give a rough indication of the best time in your state.
In warmer zones (7 and above) such as southern California, areas of the Pacific North West, and some of the southern states, it is also possible, and often preferable, to plant in the Fall - usually November. However Fall planting is only advisable if minimum winter temperatures are not likely to be much below freezing. If in doubt, spring planting is safer.
Customers sometimes ask about planting in spring after the last frost dates. Frost dates are irrelevant when it comes to planting fruit trees, and indeed if you wait for the last frost date in your area it will be far too late to plant a fruit tree. The only thing that matters is the state of the ground - if it is frozen solid then you can't plant, but as soon as it starts to thaw it is time to plant.
When to buy apple trees
While late fall and early spring are the best times to plant, they are not the best times to order apple trees. Fruit trees are produced on an annual cycle and harvested in late fall. This means the best time to order is over the summer, even if you won't be planting the trees until the following spring. Customers that order over the summer have the best choice of varieties and sizes. We usually still have good availability over the winter, but the sooner you order the better. Note that we don't ask for payment for summer orders until nearer the time of shipping.
Note for customers in zone 4
Every May we get calls and emails from customers in zone 4 who have just emerged from the long winter freeze and are starting to think about planting fruit trees. Unfortunately it is too late - by this point in the season we will have run out of trees, and even if we had trees left it would be too late for us to send them because they will have come out of dormancy. Please order over the preceding summer.