Fruit Tree Rootstock Guide & Planting Advice
Fruit Tree Rootstocks
- Approximate Height Guide
Please note that heights are
approx and for guidance only. The ultimate size of the tree will be
influenced by the vigour of the actual variety. A weak growing variety
grafted onto the most vigorous stock will not make a very large tree. I
have tried to show this by overlapping some of the rootstocks in the
table below the tree pictures. The tree shape,
location and soil condition are also influencing factors.
M.27 or M.26
M.26 or MM.106
2yr Forms - M.27 and M.26 are always
Bush form. MM.106, Quince'A', St.Julien'A' and Colt can be both Bush or Half
Standard. M.25 and Pyrus are more usually grown on to make Full Standards (with
180cm/6ft+ clear stem)
Any overlaps in each category depend on the vigour of
the actual grafted variety - * With weaker varieties / **With vigorous
varieties / ***Pixy is not compatible with peach or apricot only
plums, damsons and gages.
- Approximate Height Guide
How to plant your
Place them in a shady place out of
sunlight and frost. A garden shed or a garage is ideal. If unable to
plant for more than a week, unwrap them, water the roots thoroughly and
dig the bundles in to one or two large holes. They will be safe here
throughout the Winter. Make sure you dribble some fine soil into any air
pockets around the roots to deter mice. Keep an eye open for mouse or
vole holes around the trees and lift and examine the roots if in doubt,
its much easier to replace the bundles once the 'heeling in' hole has
been dug the first time and better to be safe than sorry.
Dig a generous sized
hole and fork over the hard soil at the bottom of the hole thoroughly to help prevent waterlogging. Most
trees are easy to establish but dislike waterlogged soils. Cherry and
Sorbus are the least tolerant of this. Site a tree stake if necessary.
Because your trees are bare-rooted it is possible to position your stake
the planting hole. This gives better support than the more recent method
of positioning the stake a distance from the tree and driving it in at
45 degrees. This method evolved to accommodate container plants where
the roots are hidden by the potted compost and damage to the roots would
result from a closer, vertically driven stake. If rabbits and hares are
prevalent you must use spiral tree guards to prevent
damage. Photo right - shows my trees with their well formed
root systems. This is the key to quick establishment after transplanting
Add a handful of general fertilizer and a shovel of
planting compost and mix these with the excavated soil.
Replace the excavated soil mixture and take special care
to see that the 'grafting point' (union), or 'kink' is
above ground level with two or three inches to spare. If
the union is buried the special rootstock will lose its
control over both cropping and vigour of the tree. This
is particularly important with fruit trees.
Water your new tree thoroughly (one bucket of water) and
repeat weekly during the first growing season during dry spells if
you're able to. If any 'suckers' appear remove them from below the
grafting point. Suckers are far less of a problem with the new range of
rootstocks we use today.
Planting on my nursery -
In the 'early days' I planted each rootstock* by hand, nowadays I use a custom
made planting machine. It does a super job, is much easier
and quicker, and ensures uniform planting depth and light loamy infill
for superior root development which in turn ensures quick establishment
of your new trees. Photo right shows part of my nursery in July, these 1 yr (Maiden) trees are already between 3ft and 6ft (90-180cm) depending on the variety *The
rootstocks are lined out in rows in March for propagating in summer by
'budding' or 'grafting in the following spring. It takes four years of
production to produce a one year tree of the highest quality.
Apple Tree and Fruit Tree Reference Books
I recommend 'The English Apple' by Rosanne Sanders. 'The Book of
Apples' by Joan Morgan and Alison Richards.
'Practical Encyclopedia of Garden Pests and Diseases' by Andrew Mikolajski.
How do trees grow ?
Initially by the conversion of the suns radiant energy into chemical energy in a process we may remember from biology classes called Photosynthesis. With this chemical energy the tree makes Carbohydrates (sugars and starches) using Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen. The Carbon comes from atmospheric carbon dioxide, the Hydrogen comes from the water present in the soil and of course the Oxygen from the air we breathe. The Carbohydrates are moved around the tree and in this process they revert partly to Carbon Dioxide and partly to water. This process generates energy which enables the tree to use mineral substances, particularly Nitrates and Phosphates, from the soil. There are further processes which make and use Proteins and other Carbon based substances which allow your tree to grow and function. Carbon Dioxide is present as 300 parts to 1 million of atmospheric volume. Every ONE unit of Carbon Dioxide absorbed by your tree results in FOUR units of Oxygen being released into the air.
Take time to enjoy your planting. It shouldn't be a rushed job that 'has
to be done' begrudgingly. Wait until the soil conditions are right or as
near right as they can be, choose a nice day, well no rain at least! -
You're doing something that will last a lifetime and beyond....
An extract from my grandmother's letters - Mabel Alice Jasper née Terry of
Langley Heath Farm b.1898.
(This piece recalling childhood memories of springtime amid once beautiful woodland at
her former home)
years later I was being driven by my eldest son along the roads skirting
my old home. He had forgotten to tell me about the wood called 'Fox
Covey' having been felled, leaving only a few trees, by the grandsons of
the old squire whose inheritance at his death bought the burden of heavy
taxes. Coming suddenly upon this spectacle filled me with such deep
emotion I held my breath. From as long as I can remember, and then in my
three sons' childhood, the 'Fox Covey' held such magic that only a child
could understand, whose pleasures in those far off days made up of
simple things. We watched eagerly each year for the bluebells which grew
profusely under the trees and glowed like a blue light, the sunlight
slanting through the branches making it still more enchanting. Then
there was the old railway carriage which stood on the edge of the wood,
in which we, our cousins and playmates spent many hours, our imagination
turning it into a 'fairy coach' which transported us to all kinds of
wonderful places. We would take picnic snacks and sitting on the rough
seats enjoyed them better than any meal on the Continental Express. The
coach slowly disintegrated as the years passed, and when the roof was no
more, my favourite lime tree's spreading branches provided shelter from
That self same tree I watched every spring. It was always the first to
appear, and showed its vivid new green against others which were
only just beginning to stir from their winter sleep and as yet showing
only a faint tinge of pink. As the 'Fox Covey' was on a steep sloping
hill, all the varying colours of the fine old trees showed plainly from
any part of the farm and by leaning out of my bedroom window each
early morning I surveyed the lovely view of green fields and the slow
awakening of my beloved trees to yet another spring.