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Dwarf Fruit Trees

Posted on 3rd February 2016

February through to mid-March is a good time to plant fruit trees. If you have a small garden or want to train young trees into espaliers, cordons or step-overs to create a formal look or to use them as decorative but productive dividers in your garden then trees that have been grafted onto a dwarfing root-stock are the best choice. The root-stock is a selected form of the fruit which will influence the overall height of the tree but will not have any impact on the quality or size of the fruits or the chosen cultivar characteristics, in fact what you get is a compact version of the chosen type of fruit that crops prolifically within a smaller surface area.

You can graft any type of apple onto an apple dwarfing root-stock and it is possible to graft several different types of apple onto the same root-stock so, for example you can have a tree that bears ‘Royal Gala’, ‘Coxes orange Pippin’ and ‘Golden delicious’ all on the same tree giving you three different types of apple on one mini tree. You do need a different root-stock for different types of fruit and there are many available in a range of sizes.

If you want a really compact apple tree that is suitable for growing in a container then you need your tree on an ‘M27’ root-stock, if you want a slightly bigger tree that you can train into an espalier or a cordon, then you can select a M26 or an MM106 which is semi dwarfing and will produce a slightly more vigorous tree.

Pears and quinces are very closely related and are generally grafted onto a quince root-stock, ‘Quince C’ is very dwarfing and ‘Quince A’ is semi dwarfing. Peaches are usually grafted onto a root-stock called ‘Saint Julian A’ and damsons, gages and plums onto a root-stock called ‘Pixy’.

Make sure that you find out what root-stock your fruit tree is grafted onto when you are buying them so that they are suitable for the purpose. Some specialist growers will graft them to order and it is also possible to seek out specialists that grow local and unusual heritage varieties and who will train them for you over a few years into a variety of shapes.