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The Melrose Apple

The Melrose apple is regarded as the official apple of Ohio state, the location where it originated. The Melrose apple is a unique cross between two well-recognized apple breeds, one being the red delicious.

Melrose apple in the orchard.
Melrose apple in the orchard.

You can just imagine what a treat it is to bite into this apple raw right from the tree when part of this apple’s composition includes a fruit revered for its sweet, mild-flavored flesh. Fortunately, people almost anywhere in the country can enjoy the splendor of owning their very own Melrose apple tree in their backyard since it’s a hardy, easy-to-grow tree. 

History of the Melrose Apple / Melrose Fruit Tree  

Free S. Howlett is the creator of this unique apple. He was working for the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station in Ohio. Specifically, the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station released the apple during World War II.

It consisted of a cross-breed between Red Delicious apple and Johnathan apple, an apple known for its crispiness and juiciness. It’s also a bit more flavor than the red delicious, which enhanced the flavor profile of the Melrose apple.   

Fruit Tree / Fruit Characteristics

The Melrose apple trees don’t look much different than most apples. Its leaves are a medium-to-dark shade of green. They’re elliptical and single-lobed. In the fall, the leaves on this tree turn yellow.

The trees usually reach 12-to-15-feet tall when they reach full maturity. However, with the proper pruning techniques, which will discuss later in this piece, you can keep it shorter and more manageable for a home landscape.  

You’ll notice small, red buds appearing on the tree in early spring. The buds soon turn to white, clustered blossoms with pink undertones on the underside of the petals in mid-spring. 

The red and yellow apples are what really give it its appeal, though. The apples tend to be redder in the middle and green on both the lower-most and top-most portions of the apple. The skin of the apple is firm but not too firm that it’s difficult to eat. They’re large, so if you’re looking for a tree that has apples that stand out from the foliage, this just might be the one. 

Planting Zones 

Before you plant a Melrose apple tree, you should know which USDA Plant Hardiness Zone your particular city is. They only grow well in certain zones and may struggle to reach full size and fruit properly when grown outside the recommended growing areas, so make sure you do your research!

Melrose apple trees grow best in zones five through eight. Zone five includes states like Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Washington. States in zone six are as follows: Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Michigan. 

If you go a bit further south, you’ll find states in zone eight, such as Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Texas and Florida are prime examples of states in zone eight. 

Keep in mind that each state isn’t one single growing zone. States have multiple growing zones and even different levels of each growing zone, which determines which types of trees grow best in a city and state. 

Size and Spacing

A Melrose apple tree usually has a canopy of 12 to 15 feet, which determines how far apart you should plant multiple Melrose apple trees. Ideally, you want to keep at least 15 feet between two Melrose apple trees. However, you could choose high-density gardening, which is when you only allow them five feet in between one another and aggressively prune them. This approach is ideal for small yards. 

Ideally, you should plant the apple tree 20 feet from your home or other large structures, so it gets adequate air. 

Pollination

While your Melrose apple tree will self-pollinate, you won’t receive as large of a harvest with only one tree. When choosing a reproductive mate for your tree, Centennial crab apple, Enterprise, Fameuse, and Gala are some examples of apple types that will increase your apple yield by pollinating your apple tree. 

Bee Pollinating an Apple Tree
Bee pollinates apple tree flowers on a sunny spring day

Tree Care

Although an apple tree like this one can survive with little care, you’ll notice a huge difference in the amount of fruit and the quality of it when you follow certain guidelines for tree care. With proper care, you should have fruit either the second or third year you have the tree. 

Sunlight 

Melrose apple trees want to bask in the sun between six and eight hours each day. Therefore, you should choose a location where the tree receives direct sunlight for most of the day. It helps to grow the tree away from other trees to ensure that all parts of your tree are receiving adequate sunlight. 

Interestingly, these apples will continue to ripen after they’ve fallen from the tree. So, if you place them in direct sunlight, your apples will be sure to ripen completely. 

Watering 

As a general rule, your tree will need water at least once every two weeks. Usually, you want to water this apple tree every seven to 10 days when the weather conditions are dry. While water is necessary for your tree to flourish, you should avoid drowning the roots. Once the roots rot, they can’t transport water throughout other parts of the tree, and your tree could even die.  

Pruning 

Ideally, pruning is best done during periods with no frost. Late winter or early spring are excellent times to prune. At this point, you want to remove vertical branches and focus on reducing the length of side branches. This ensures your tree gets adequate area and the central branches grow strongest to be able to support fruit development and growth. 

Pruning an apple tree up close.
Pruning an apple tree up close.

Additionally, remember to cut off dead, diseased, or decayed branches as necessary to prevent insect infestations as well as a serious tree disease outbreak. 

For more information on pruning, visit our pruning the apple tree blog

Diseases & Care 

Fortunately, a Melrose apple tree is resistant to diseases like cedar-apple rust, cedar-quince rust, cedar-hawthorn rust, and fire blight, which are some of the more common diseases that affect apple trees. This tree isn’t resistant to powdery mildew, a fungal infection that causes an accumulation of white dust on your tree. The powder is actually the spores of the fungus. 

This isn’t all that can affect Melrose apples and their trees. Discover everything you should about Melrose apples and their tree diseases and care here. 

Pests

Raccoons, deer, and bears enjoy biting into Melrose apples as much as people. Two-spotted spider mites, European red mites, apple maggots, clearwing moths, and codling moths are other insects that have no problem waging war on your apple tree. 

You may hinder pests by putting down mulch around your tree, but you’ll have to make sure you research because improperly laid mulch can harm the tree. You could also look for a tree spray that’s safe for people or even decide to make your own. 

Common Uses for Melrose Apples 

This apple has a creamy flesh, but it’s firm and course. It’s a juicy apple that’s mildly acidic, slightly tart and sweet, with a hint of spice. It’s an excellent baking apple while you can also choose to eat it raw right off your apple tree. Make sure you wash it first!

This type of apple works wonderfully in an apple pie. With its natural hint of spice, it cuts out the need for you to heavily sugar or season the filling. You could also make cookies, cake, tarts, crumble, cobbler, or an old-fashioned apple crisp from this fruit. Make a pie filling and use it to top ice cream or yogurt. A neat idea is to make an apple parfait. Maybe you could make apple fritters for brunch or dessert. 

Melrose apples work well as a topping for pancakes, or you can bake them right into them. Same with waffles. 

You don’t always have to use these apples for breakfast or dessert. They’re versatile enough to use them for dinner as well. Try them in a chicken and apple recipe for dinner. Why not make apple chicken salad for lunch sometime? Click the link for the recipe!

Apple Chicken Salad that can be easily made with Melrose Apples.
Apple Chicken Salad that can be easily made with Melrose Apples.

While there are plenty of ways to use your Melrose apples, you don’t want to wear yourself out on eating them. Thankfully, you can store these apples for some time by canning, freezing, or drying them. Canning these apples makes them last for between one and two years, which is the way to store them for the longest time. Choose to preserve them in juice, water, or syrup. A hint of lemon can give your apples a bit more flavor for future use. 

However, if you’d like a more convenient way to preserve your apples, consider freezing them. They only last three to six months this way, but the preparation is much simpler. Start by cutting your apples into pieces or slices. Situate them on a cookie sheet flat and spread apart. Once completely frozen, remove them from the tray and place them in a freezer-friendly storage bag. Don’t skip the cookie sheet step, or you’ll end up with a clump of apples. 

Drying apples can be done in the oven, dehydrator, or air fryer. Decore the apples and cut them into thin strips straight across the apple. Dice them into chunks or slices. Generally, you want to dehydrate them in the oven for 12 hours at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. You should read the instructions that come with your dehydrator or air fryer to see the temperature and duration you should dry your apples for since it varies from model to model.  

Health Benefits of Melrose Apples 

Melrose apples may help maintain the balance of healthy bacteria in your digestive tract, which is necessary for good digestive function. Fiber is one reason for this. Additionally, the fiber in the apple is known to benefit your heart and might even reduce your risk of certain types of cancer. 

Apples have vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Did you know that apples are also mainly water? Therefore, they help to keep you hydrated as well, which is important for hundreds of functions that occur in your body regularly. 

These apples have other health benefits, which we’ll discuss in this blog

Where to Buy This Fruit Tree?

Fortunately, these apple trees are easy to come by when you’re searching for plants for your yard. Your local nursery will more than likely have them. However, if they don’t or you’d much rather have the convenience of the tree being delivered to your door, Nature Hills Nursery has these trees in stock.

Where to Buy the Fruit

If you don’t have the room for an apple tree or don’t want the hassle of pruning, watering, and picking up a mess of apples come October, you may want to consider just purchasing the fruit from a store or orchard. 

Beautiful Melrose Apple.
Beautiful Melrose Apple.

Fortunately, your local grocery store may have these apples in stock. Often, superstores carry them as well, so don’t forget to check there. If not, check out your local orchards or even take a trip to another city’s orchards. They often grow these apples. As a general rule, you’ll find them ripe and ready in October. 

Moreover, the fruit will last up to four months after purchased if you store it in your refrigerator. 

Wrapping Up the Melrose Apple Tree 

In conclusion, Melrose apple trees are beneficial for people who want a unique flavor of apple with a long history of production. The tree doesn’t require much care, but it does require a little bit of room, especially if you plan to grow two apple trees, so it yields the most fruit possible. If you have enough space or want to try to manage two trees in pots, it’s possible. You’ll reap the reward of homegrown fruit that you can pick as soon as it reaches the peak of perfection. 

Absolutely Fabulous Apple Pie
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