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10 Tips on Growing Dwarf Fruit Trees

Updated on February 18, 2013

What is a dwarf fruit tree?

A dwarf fruit tree is a small tree that bears regular-sized fruit. There are various sizes of dwarf trees, from some small enough to grow in box planters, up to "semi-dwarfs" about two-thirds as tall as standard-sized fruit trees.

What makes a dwarf a dwarf?

A dwarf tree is either a genetic dwarf by nature or is dwarfed by outside influences, usually by man and commonly by grafting a standard fruit-bearing top onto a root system (rootstock) of a natural dwarf.

Ten Tips why plant dwarfs?

  1. If you have only a little space for fruit trees a dwarf usually is the only possibility. But even if you have a sizable piece of ground, say 80' square which could take almost a dozen standard-sized trees, you could plant about 60 dwarf trees on it and get a far wider selection of kinds and varieties.
  2. Besides being more interesting, this greater spread of different fruits from dwarfs gives a margin of safety in case some variety doesn't do as well as expected one year.
  3. Dwarfs give you quicker returns on your investment, usually bearing the year you plant them or the year after.
  4. Dwarf trees have been rated more efficient than large ones, using more of their nutrients to make fruit instead of wood.
  5. Fruit from a dwarf tree is the same in all other respects as that from a standard-sized tree of the same variety. If anything, the fruit from the dwarf will be a little bigger.
  6. A dwarf tree is a handy size to care for-you need no ladder or seldom even a step-stool for most when pruning and harvesting.
  7. This compactness also makes the dwarf as easy to spray as a rose bush-and you need only one quart of spray instead of 30 to 40 quarts.
  8. Any fruit tree is a beautiful part of a house planting, but dwarfs are outstanding-lovely bouquets at eye-level, followed by the flashing colors and softly rounded forms of ripening fruit, ornaments you eat.
  9. For growing up a wall or framework as an espalier, the dwarf tree is the tree, a docile little fellow that takes to training.
  10. If you still have one nagging little doubt-"but aren't they awfully short-lived?"-don't give it another thought. Perhaps the notion that dwarf trees die young took hold because the average standard-sized fruit tree will live through neglect that could discourage a dwarf with its shallower root system. But give your dwarf trees decent care and your grandchildren can be picking fruit from the dwarf apple and pear trees you plant now.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Hi, this is nice, but these are not growing tips, but arguments pro dwarf fruit trees. Which is fine, but don't call your article tips growing, is it's not that. Thank you.

    • profile image

      farooq mughal 

      5 years ago

      but i want to know that if i want apple dwarf tree then i have to graft an apple stem on apple root stock or it may be on my choice ? Plz answer me bcom i m from pakistan and here people have no concept about tree dwarfing and also post proper procedure and also want to know which plant need same type rootstock and which plants can graft on different types of root stock

    • Riviera Rose profile image

      Riviera Rose 

      6 years ago from South of France

      I've tried growing dwarf apricot, ordered online, which came with bare roots. I did my best but they just didn't work out. I think I need to buy more established trees - they are gorgeous and good for all the reasons you list here. Voted up and interesting.

    • alispaisley profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow, amazing hub, Thanks for sharing for more information.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Well written hub... thanks for the info. I have a few dwarf fruit trees and was having trouble keeping squirrels from taking the new fruit. I put a scarecrow on a chair just between two trees and haven't seen them take any fruit yet!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What a great idea! You certainly gave a number of good reasons to plant the dwarf varieties of fruit trees. Now...I just wish we had some extra available space in our garden!

    • joshuaslocum profile image


      11 years ago from South America, New Zealand, Asia, Europe, and North America

      very good overview - i have lots of pictures on my blog of HUGE fruit trees with ladders etc up next to them to show the need for ladders and the sense of scale. go easy, go lazy, go dwarfy is my motto for today.... Anyone thinking of giving flowers as a gift should go on this hubpage to the Products area and buy the dwarf meyer lemon tree in particular. I send these as gifts all the time thru amazon and this page has provided you a link to the very tree I have sent successfully to friends. they LOVE it!

    • Marcus Freudenman profile image

      Marcus Freudenman 

      11 years ago from Sunshine Coast Australia

      Thanks for your advice. Will start planting. We have plenty of empty space around the new house. Cheers Marcus

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      What a great hub! Lots of awesome information! I tried to find info on this earlier this year with no luck.

    • Geoff-Ecotist profile image


      11 years ago from London UK

      This is a very useful report as many peole have smaller gardens. Home produced fruit is a great treat for all the family. Well maybe not the cats!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Great advice - keep up the good work!


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