Fruit trees and small fruits Gardening Harmful insects

Bag Apples to Keep Pests Away

Sealed inside their individual plastic bag, these apples will mature naturally,

Are you having trouble getting quality apples without spraying for insects like apple maggots, coddling moths and stink bugs? If red ball sticky traps, the method I use, are not giving you the results you want, why not try bagging your apples? It’s not as complicated as it looks.

Apple bagging may seem pretty new-fangled to many gardeners, but different forms of fruit bagging have been carried on for generations in China and Japan.

The How-To

20180610A Myk63,
Seal the young apple inside a plastic bag to keep pests away. Source: Myk63,

About three weeks after apple flowers drop off and the fruits are about ½ to ¾ inches (1.25 to 2 cm) in diameter, thin the apples to one fruit per cluster. Choose a healthy, intact apple (avoid any apples with a crescent-shaped scar, sign it has already been visited by the plum curculio).

Now, insert the fruit into a ziplock sandwich bag (or staple a recycled plastic bag around it) and seal as firmly as you can. Cut off the lowest corner with scissors so any moisture caused by condensation can drip out.

This barrier will stop insect pests from laying their eggs on the growing fruit. It will also prevent some apple diseases, like sooty blotch and flyspeck and will keep birds and (usually) squirrels at bay too. Bagging will have no effect, though, on more pernicious diseases like scab, rust and fire blight. To control those, you need to grow disease-resistant apples.

Come harvest season, just remove the bag (dry it and store it for next year) and you’ll have a worm-free, pest-free apple!

Obviously, bagging will be easiest to carry out on dwarf or at least semi-dwarf trees.

Other Fruits

Bagged Asian pear. Source:

This method will also work with pears (although they have fewer insect problems than apples and I personally don’t find they need it), grapes, kiwis, etc. You can also bag stone fruits (plums, peaches, nectarines, etc.), but they tend to rot under the high humidity of a sealed plastic bag, so instead use as a barrier something that allows excellent air circulation, like an old nylon stocking, attaching it with a twist tie. You can, for example, buy boxes of inexpensive disposable socks that will do the job nicely.

Easier Than It Sounds

Bagging sounds like a lot of work, but if you’re thinning your apples anyway, it only takes a few extra seconds… and you can prepare the bags ahead of time by already cutting off a corner. And it saves big time on spraying time, so you end up getting better results with less effort.20180610B

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

2 comments on “Bag Apples to Keep Pests Away

  1. Susan Micheli

    I understand wanting less pesticide use but this method results in tremendous use of plastic materials.

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