7 USDA Zone 9 Apple Trees (Low-Chill & Heat-Tolerant)

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Written By Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

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Home » USDA Zone 9 » 7 USDA Zone 9 Apple Trees (Low-Chill & Heat-Tolerant)

Apples are one of the most common fruits to grow in the United States, but it isn’t an ideal crop for every growing zone.

This is because apple trees have chilling requirements, wherein they need a certain amount of hours where temperatures fall between 32 to 45 degrees F before they can produce flowers and fruits.

Most cultivars need upward of 500 hours, and some as many as 1000! This can be difficult if you live in USDA hardiness zone 9, which experiences minimum average temperatures of just 20-30 degrees each year.

While this zone fulfills a certain amount of chill hours, or “chill units” it isn’t enough to meet the needs of most popular apple cultivars.

Fortunately, this isn’t true for every type of apple. There are still a number of varieties with low chill requirements and enough heat tolerance to grow and fruit in your zone.

Let’s take a look at the seven best zone 9 apple trees you can choose from.

7 Apple Trees To Grow in Zone 9

1. Tropic Sweet (Malus ‘Tropic Sweet’)

Tropic Sweet Apple tree covered in apples
Image by Emily Farmplantsandseeds via Flickr

An underrated low-chill apple variety, the Tropic Sweet is a tropical cultivar patented by the University of Florida. It was bred especially for warm climates and needs only 250 chill hours, making it a fitting choice for zone 9 gardens and orchards and sub-tropical zones in general.

The Tropic Sweet apple is a super sweet, crisp, and crunchy fruit with low acidity that has been compared to the Royal Gala in flavor and texture. It is light green with a red blush.

The tree itself is a medium-sized high producer that bears white blossoms in spring. It is a self-pollinating tree but will grow best with a pollination partner like the Anna or Dorsett Golden.

Plant the Tropic Sweet in full sun and well-draining soil and apply well-balanced fertilizer to ensure optimal flower and fruit production. Water and prune regularly to maintain a neat shape and encourage more fruiting.

Growing Zones: 7-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-25 feet tall, with a 12-15 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Late Fall to Late Winter

2. Anna (Malus ‘Anna’)

Tropical Anna Apple (Malus domestica) Tree, Fruit and Flowers
Anna Apple (Malus domestica) Tree, Fruit and Flowers – Image by Fern Berg, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

A perfect option for warm, subtropical, and Mediterranean climates, the Anna is one of the most popular heat-tolerant apple cultivars on the market. In fact, many gardeners would recommend the Anna, with its 200-300 hour chill requirement, as the number one choice for apple lovers in southern regions of the US.

The fruits of the Anna are delicious – highly crispy, juicy, and with a perfect balance of sweet and tart flavor. If you want them to be more acidic, pick them early before ripening fully.

These yellow, blushing apples are ideal for both fresh eating and use in cooking, baking, and juicing. The tree is self-pollinating and will produce a decent harvest as a single tree.

Anna apple trees need full sun and well-draining soil to thrive, so choose your planting location carefully. Mulch in spring and summer, but leave space around the trunk of the tree for air circulation.

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 12-18 feet tall, with a 10-15 foot spread (semi-dwarf), 18-25 feet tall, with a 15-18 foot spread (standard)

Fruiting Season: Early Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

3. Dorsett Golden (Malus ‘Dorsett Golden’)

Golden Dorsett apple tree and flowers (Malus domestica)
Image by Fern Berg, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

First planted in the Bahamas in the 1950s, the Dorsett Golden is a cultivar of the famous Golden Delicious apple, famed for its ornamental flowering beauty and delicious fruits.

Though experts differ on the exact amount of chill hours needed to grow Dorsett Golden apples, it is generally believed to be between 100 and 300, much less than the typical 500.

The Golden Dorsett is one of the sweetest apples on the market, with a light aroma, crunchy texture, and hints of vanilla. They are attractive too, with a pale yellow and green color and the slightest scarlet blush.

The tree itself is beautiful, with a round canopy, clouds of pink and white spring blossoms, and a lovely multi-colored fall display.

For best results plant the Golden Dorsett tree in fertile, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH in full sunlight. Pair with a Golden Dorsett for optimal fruit production.

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 12-18 feet tall, with a 10-15 foot spread (semi-dwarf), 18-25 feet tall, with a 15-18 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Early-Mid Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

4. Ein Shemer (Malus domestica ‘Ein Shemer’)

Ein Shemer apples on tree
Image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

Initially bred to withstand the warm, dry climate of Israel, the Ein Shemer was imported to the United States in 1967. It has taken very well to the southern climate as it has incredibly low chilling requirements – between just 50 to 150 chill hours. It is definitely worth considering for zone 9 gardeners.

The Ein Shemer is a highly productive cultivar that will begin bearing fruit after just a few years. It is self-fertile and will produce reliably on its own, but will be much more prolific with a suitable partner. Ein Shemer apples are yellow but turn a deep gold when ripe, and have firm, juicy flesh and a sweet flavor. The tree produces fragrant pink and white blossoms in early spring.

Plant the Ein Shemer tree in a location with full sun exposure and well-draining soil. It has a tough constitution and will thrive with very little extra maintenance beyond light pruning and fertilizing.

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-25 feet tall, with a 10-20 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Early Summer

5. Fuji (Malus ‘Fuji’)

Fuji Apple Tree
Image by Shinya Suzuki via Flickr

One of the world’s most well-known apple cultivars, the Fuji apple hails from Fujisaki, a town in Japan where it was first developed in the 1930s as part of a research project.

In Japan, they are best-sellers due to their beautiful blushing-pink skin and especially crispy texture and sweet flavor. They also have a very long shelf life compared to most other apple varieties, remaining at fresh quality for up to a year.

The tree itself has a lovely spreading habit and a white spring flower display with tinges of pink. As well as a crop, it can also be planted as a specimen or patio tree. The Fuji is not self-fertile and will need an appropriate pollinating partner planted nearby to produce fruit.

Plant the Fuji in a location with full sun exposure and rich, loamy, well-draining soil. According to the University of Maryland, for best flavor, texture, and storage it is important to harvest Fuji apples when just ripened.

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 12-18 feet tall, with a 10-15 foot spread (semi-dwarf), 18-25 feet tall, with a 15-18 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Mid Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

6. Winter Banana Apple (Malus ‘Winter Banana’)

Winter Banana Apple
Image via Nature Hills

Shake things up a little in your Zone 9 orchard or edible garden with the unique Winter Banana Apple. This naturally-occurring cultivar was first discovered on an orchard in Indiana in the 1870s and has spread across the US and even to Europe.

The Winter Banana apple is a large, waxy fruit with pale yellow skin and a pink blush on only one side. It has firm, yellow-white flesh that is juicy and sweet.

Its flavor has often been referred to as tropical, with a conventional apple taste mixed with notes of banana and pineapple. It is most often used in fruit juices or desserts, but can also be enjoyed as a table apple.

Plant this self-fertile apple tree in a protected location with plenty of air circulation, well-draining soil, and sunlight. Prune in late winter while the tree is dormant to correct size, shape, and structure.

Other Common Names: Flory Banana, Flory of Winter

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 12-18 feet tall, with a 12-15 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Mid Fall

Available at: Nature Hills

7. Gravenstein (Malus ‘Gravenstein’)

Gravenstein Apple
Image via Nature Hills

Cultivated in Denmark since the 1600s and highly popular in the US since the 1820s, the Gravenstein is a true heirloom variety. Who wouldn’t want a slice of history growing in their edible garden? This European apple cultivar has long been prized for its adaptability as a tree and for the flavor and versatility of its fruit.

The Gravenstein apple is a light-green fruit with red stripes and creamy white flesh with a slight honey fragrance and a crisp texture. It is sweet and flavorful, perfect for fresh eating, cidermaking, baking, and dehydrating. One of its few flaws is that it does not store or travel well, which shouldn’t be a problem for home growers.

For best results plant the Gravenstein tree in rich, loamy, well-draining soil with plenty of sun exposure. Keep an eye out for signs of disease like blight, powdery mildew, and apple scab.

Growing Zones: 2-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-18 feet tall, with a 12-15 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Summer

Available at: Nature Hills

Low-Chill Apple Trees For Hot Climates

Don’t let the long, hot summers of USDA zone 9 stop you from planting your favorite fruit. Apple trees may be more typical of cooler climates, but there is still a decent range of heat-tolerant apple cultivars that need well below 600 chill hours to produce yearly crops of delicious apples.

As long as you are aware of their growing requirements and suitable temperature ranges, planting apple trees on your zone 9 property shouldn’t be an issue.

For more delicious fruit varieties, check out these fruit trees that do well in zone 9.

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Photo of author

Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

Shannon has always loved looking after trees and plants since as long as she can remember. She grew up gardening with her family in their off-grid home and looking after her neighbor's plant nursery. As a child she also participated in native tree replanting, and as an adult has volunteered in reforestation programs in northern Vietnam. Today, she puts her horticultural efforts into tending her vegetable and herb gardens, and learning about homesteading and permaculture. When she’s not reading, writing, and gardening, she’ll be out fishing and foraging for edible flora and fungi in the countryside around her home.

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