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Fruit Tree Rootstocks
Fruit trees are generally budded or grafted onto a rootstock by the nursery; this means the roots of the tree are a different plant to the trunk, branches and fruit.
Effectively sticking two plants together, one that has good roots and one that has good fruit, ensures that you get what you pay for. Plants raised from seed will vary from the parent plants and there will be a wide variation in the size or shape of a tree and the quality and quantity of fruit it produces.
Another result of budding and grafting a variety onto selected rootstocks is the ability to control the size of the tree to a certain degree. However, the size that a fruit tree ultimately grows to is dependent on a number of factors:
- The fruit variety (e.g. Apple Braeburn)
- How it's pruned
- Soil type
- Its rootstock
Some varieties of tree are naturally more vigorous than others, so this will affect how much they grow each year. For instance a Bramley Apple seedling will naturally grow bigger than a Cox's Orange Pippin Apple seedling. The correct pruning will also help to control the size of tree, as well as encouraging it to produce flower buds from which fruit develop.
Where you grow your fruit tree and the soil it is growing in also impacts on its ability to grow and thus eventual size. Most fruit trees need a good amount of sunshine to grow well and for the fruit to ripen with high sugar content. Trees growing in cold, open spots will grow slower than those that are protected and warm. The same is true for the soil, with trees growing in light sandy soils generally growing more slowly and not reaching such a large size as those in rich fertile soils which will be more vigorous and taller growing.
Rootstocks by Fruit
- M9 - Dwarfing, producing a tree of around 1.8-2.4m (6-8ft)
- M26 - Semi-vigorous, producing a tree of around 2.4-3m (8-10ft)
- MM 111 - Vigorous, producing a tree of around 3.6- 4.2m (12-14ft)
- Quince A - Semi-vigorous, producing a tree of around 3-4.5m (10-15ft)
- Pyrodwarf - Semi-vigorous, producing a tree of around 3.6-4.2m (12-14ft)
- Pyrus communis - Vigorous, producing a tree of around 4.8-5.5m (16-18ft)
- Giselle 5 - Semi-vigorous, producing a tree of around 2.4-3m (8-10ft)
- Colt - Semi-vigorous, producing a tree of around 3-4.2m (10-14ft)
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- VVA1 - Semi-dwarfing, producing a tree of around 2.1-2.7m (7-9ft)
- Pixy - Semi-dwarfing, producing a tree of around 3-3.6m (10-12ft)
- St Julian A - Semi-vigorous, producing a tree of around 4.2-5.5m (14-18ft)
- Myrobalan - Semi-vigorous, producing a tree of around 4.8-5.5m (16-18ft)