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Fruit Trees You Can Grow and Their Rootstocks

Updated on March 20, 2013
Typical bush apple tree available from garden centre or nursery.
Typical bush apple tree available from garden centre or nursery. | Source
Apple Tree label with rootstock indicated in the centre - M27
Apple Tree label with rootstock indicated in the centre - M27 | Source

Autumn is the traditional time for planting fruit trees, though they tend to be available all year round these days by the fact they are grown in containers. And, before they were grown in containers, they were grown in the field, lifted and sold as bareroot (without soil). Again, they are traditionally lifted and planted during the autumn (once the leaves have fallen), but this can continue until about the end of March.

There are a number of different types of fruit trees to choose from apple, pears, quinces, cherries, plums, gages, apricots, peaches and nectarines etc. Once you have decided on the type of fruit tree you would like, the next decision you have to make is how high you want the fruit tree to grow and what form, bush, step-over, cordon, fan or espalier.

Fruit trees are budded (a type of grating) on to rootstocks to, a) perpetuate a selected clone (variety) and, b) control the eventual height of the tree.

Fruit trees don't come true to type from seed, they have a habit of hybridizing with other varieties of the same genus. i.e. an apple with another apple. Therefore when a new variety is developed with good characteristics, the only way to perpetuate that variety is by budding onto a rootstock.

Secondly, rootstocks are used to determine the eventual height of the tree and have been given names, such as for Apples M27, M9, M26 and MM106, Pears and Quinces - Quince A and Quince C, Cherries - Colt, Gisela 5, Plums, Gages, Damsons - St.Julien A and Pixy, Apricots, Peaches and Nectarines - St Julien A and Torinel. These names are usually indicated on the label of the tree at the garden centre or nursery, or next to the variety name in a catalogue.

Below is a list of the types of rootstock used to graft fruit varieties onto.

Apple rootstocks denoted by the letter "M" indicate they were bred by the East Malling Research Station in Kent, England. "MM" rootstocks were bred by East Maling and Merton Research Stations.

Rootstocks:

M27 (extremely dwarfing) is ideal for bush (tree) and step-overs. It will start fruiting after 2 years and reach an ultimate height, 1.2-1.8m (4-6ft). Trees grown on M27 are ideal for small gardens where the soil is fertile. Water plants during drought. Keep weeds and grass away from base of tree; requires permanent staking.

M9 (dwarfing) is ideal for bush (tree) and cordons. It will start fruiting within 2-3 years and reach an ultimate height, 1.8-2.4m (6-8ft). Trees grown on M9 rootstocks are an excellent stock for small gardens with good fertile soil. Keep weeds and grass from base of tree and water during drought; requires permanent staking.

M26 (dwarfing) is ideal for bush (tree), cordons, espalier and containers too. It will start fruiting within 2-3 years and reach an ultimate height, 2.4-3m (8-10ft). Trees grown on M26 roostocks will grow on good average soils, including grassed orchards.

MM106 (semi-dwarfing) is ideal for bush (tree), fans and espalier. It will start fruiting within 2-3 years and reach an ultimate height, 3-4m (10-13ft). Trees grown on MM106 rootstocks are tolerant of a range of soils, including grassed orchards and poor soils. A vigorous tree, so not suitable for small gardens; requires staking for 5 years or longer in exposed locations.

Pear and Quince trees are grown on Quince A and Quince C rootstocks.

Quince C (dwarfing) is ideal for bush (trees) or cordons. It will start fruiting after 4 years and reach an ultimate height, 2.5-3m (6-10ft). Trees grown on Quince C rootstocks require a good fertile, moisture retentive soil; stake permanently.

Quince A (semi-vigorous) is ideal for bush (tree), cordons, fans, half-standards and espaliers. It will start fruiting after 4 years and reach an ultimate height, 3-4.5m (10-15ft). Trees grown on Quince A rootstocks require a good fertile soils, with plenty of organic matter; stake for 5 years.

Plums, Gages and Damsons are grown St.Julien A and Pixy Rootstocks.

Pixy (semi-dwarfing) is ideal for dwarf bush (tree) or cordon. It will start fruiting within 3-4 years and reach an ultimate height, 3-4m (10-12ft). Trees grown on a pixy rootstock require a good light, loamy soil with plenty of organic matter; stake permanently.

St.Julien A (semi-vigorous) is ideal for bush, half standards or fans. It will start fruiting within 3 or 4 years and reach an ultimate height, 4.5-5m (14-18ft). Trees grown on St.Julien A rootstocks require good fertile soils with plenty of organic matter; stake for 5 years.

Cherries are grown on Colt and Gisela 5 rootstocks.

Gisela 5 (semi-dwarfing) is ideal for bush or fans. It will start fruiting within 3 or 4 years and reach an ultimate height, 2.4-3m (8-10ft). Trees grown on Gisela 5 rootstocks require a fertile, loamy soil with plenty of organic matter; stake permanently.

Colt (semi-vigorous) is ideal for bush (tree), half standards or fans. It will start fruiting within 3-4 years and reach an ultimate height, 6m (20ft). Trees grown on Colt rootstocks will grow in all types of soil including clay, light and chalky soils; stake permanently.

Apricots, Nectarines and Peaches are grown on St.Julien A and Torinel rootstocks.

St.Julien A (semi-vigorous) is ideal for bush (tree), half standards or fans. It will start to fruit within 3-4 years and reach an ultimate height, 4.5-5m (14-18ft). Trees grown on St.Julien A rootstock require good fertile soils with plenty of organic matter; stake for 5 years.

Torinel (semi-vigorous) is ideal for bush (tree), half standards or fans, and is also good for containers. It will fruit within 3-4 years and reach an ultimate height, 2.4-3m (6-10ft). Trees grown on Torinel rootstocks require a good fertile, loamy soil; stake for 5 years.





Establish Step-Over Apple
Establish Step-Over Apple | Source
Mature Apple Cordon
Mature Apple Cordon | Source
Mature Apple Fan
Mature Apple Fan | Source

Trained Fruit Trees for Restricted Areas.

As you will have seen from above, fruit trees can be grown as bushes (trees), step-overs, cordons, fans and espaliers, ideal for areas where space is short.

Bushes (trees) are self-explanatory.

Step-overs are two branches trained horizontally in opposite directions, approximately 30cm (1ft) above ground.

Cordons are grown at 45 degrees, tied to a wired support structure.

Fans are 5 to 7 branches arranged in a fan-shape, tied to a wired support structure.

Espaliers are comprised or 3 or more horizontal tiers at space intervals, tied to a wired support structure.

by Alistair Olver

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    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      you've really added useful info on my life. thanks for this.