Rootstocks for Apple trees

The following lists rootstocks in ascending order of size, smallest first. The numbering scheme for rootstocks does not run in an intuitive sequence!

Whilst most authorities quote the mature size and spread of a tree (as do we) when comparing rootstocks, it is not necessarily as simple as that. An apple tree on M9 can readily grow to the same height as a tree on MM106 if you let it or encourage it. However the M9 tree will have far fewer branches than the MM106 tree, and the branches will not be as thick or have as many secondary branches, and will not form as dense a canopy of leaves in the summer.

M27

The most dwarfing of all apple rootstocks, produces a tree which will be smaller than a person standing with their arms slightly spread out. Some authorities suggest that M27 is “difficult” because it is so small, but in our experience growing M27 apple trees is straightforward provided you attend to their needs – regular watering, good soils, mulching and weed suppression.

The great thing about M27 is that it allows you to grow a lot of different apple trees in a small space. This means you can choose varieties that crop at different times, to get a spread of ripe apples throughout the season. You could plant 5 trees in a row 7m x 1m or 10 trees in a space 7m x 3m – the same space that you would need for one “traditional” standard apple tree. The yield depends very much on the variety and conditions, but you should get 4-5kg of apples per tree – equivalent to 5-7 supermarket poly bags.

Apple trees on M27 also have another interesting characteristic. Unlike every other rootstock, these trees are the same scale as humans (all other rootstocks produce trees that are much taller than us). This creates a very different effect in the garden situation because an “orchard” of M27 apple trees does not take over an area of the garden in the way that fruit trees on other rootstocks would.

Advantages: Produces a very small apple tree, reaches its mature size within 2-3 years. Allows you to grow several different apple varieties in a relatively small space. Very easy to manage because everything is within easy reach. Useful for growing in patio containers.

Disadvantages: Needs a permanent stake. Requires regular watering and good soil conditions. Mulch or clear the soil around the tree – do not allow competing plants to get near.

Article: in praise of the M27 rootstock.

M9

Widely used by commercial orchards, and also ideal for the garden. M9 was one of the first modern apple rootstocks, released in 1917 as a specific classification of an old French “Paradise” rootstock called Jaune de Metz.. The “Paradise” rootstocks were used in Europe since the the Middle Ages.

M9 is a great choice for most garden and small orchard situations in the UK and western Europe, especially where you want to maximise your crop and range of apples in a small space. The only slight drawback is that each tree will need a permanent stake, but this is a small price to pay for its ability to produce lots of apples in a small amount of space, and from a relatively young age. Apple trees on the M9 rootstock are also easy to look after and pick from ground level – most of the apples are borne on branches less than about 2m / 7ft high. In addition, M9 apple trees generally have spindly branches and are quite compact, so they don’t tend to take over or dominate a small garden.

Its close relation with the old-fashioned Paradise rootstocks which were in widespread use before the 1900s means M9 is a good choice for achieving period authenticity in pre-20th century garden projects.

Advantages: Although M9 induces a small dwarf tree, the apples are usually slightly larger than for the same variety on other rootstocks. It also encourages precocity – in other words, the tree will bear fruit at a young age, you should get a few apples in the 2nd or 3rd year.

Disadvantages: Requires a permanent stake. The ground around the tree should be mulched or kept weed free, because it cannot compete with other plants. Not suitable for areas where fireblight is prevalent (not usually a problem in the UK).

M26

M26 is a good general-purpose rootstock, which can be used for a wide variety of purposes, from medium-sized bush trees, to cordons and espaliers. Best considered for the same situations as MM106 (below) but where you want a smaller tree, although vigour increases in warmer climates.

Advantages: Produces a good productive tree. Good choice for cordons. One of the most cold-hardy of the Malling-series rootstocks.

Disadvantages: Usually needs a permanent stake, but this need not be as prominent as it is for the smaller rootstocks. Susceptible to fireblight (not usually an issue in the UK) and woolly aphid. Some authorities classify it as susceptible to collar rot (which is an issue if planting in damp ground).

M7

One of the original Malling-series rootstocks, produces a tree intermediate between M26 and MM106. Like M9, M7 was a specific selection of an original “Paradise” rootstock.

Advantages: Popular in the USA because it turned out to have reasonable resistance to fireblight and crown rot – before other rootstocks had been developed specifically for these conditions.

Disadvantages: Rarely available in the UK.

M116

A new rootstock which is similar to MM106 in most respects but produces a slight smaller tree (although larger than M26). It was developed in the 1960s from MM106 crossed with M27. Although it is not widely planted yet, it can be considered as an improved MM106, with roughly similar productivity to MM106 (even though the tree is likely to be smaller) but adaptable to a wider range of soil conditions. It is most suitable for large bush-trained trees and central leader forms, but also has potential to form a half-standard in good soils if the scion variety is vigorous (such as Bramley).

Advantages: Resistant to Phytophora (the fungus which causes brown rot / collar rot) and woolly aphid. Resistant to re-plant disease.

Disadvantages: Relatively new, so there is less knowledge of its performance with different scion varieties and in different conditions.

MM106

This is probably the most versatile rootstock for growing specimen apple trees in Europe, producing a tree of 3m-4m in height and spread – often known as a “half-standard”. It is also the best choice for producing large trained forms such as espaliers. Staking is useful after planting (more so if growing in an exposed situation, less so in a garden situation), but the tree will become free-standing within a few years and the stake can be removed. Trees on MM106 do not require much attention apart from watering in dry spells, and once established will tolerate other plants or grass growing around them.

Advantages: The best rootstock for most garden and small orchard situations in Europe, particularly when grown on good soils and well watered. Useful for both free-standing trees and for large fans and espaliers. Does not need staking, and can be left to its own devices once established.

Disadvantages: Whilst much of the crop should be accessible from ground level, you may need a ladder to pick fruit from higher up the tree.

MM111

A semi-vigorous rootstock, producing trees somewhat larger than MM106, in the range 4m-5m / 14ft – 18ft.

MM111 is well-known for its ability to grow in both heavy and light soils and to tolerate drought and damp conditions. However it has never achieved the popularity of MM106 because it is very slow to start bearing.

Advantages: Doesn’t require much looking after.

Disadvantages: Can take many years (5+) before fruit is produced in quantity.

M25

M25 is the most vigorous apple rootstock. It produces a “standard” apple tree of up to 6m height after 10 years or so in good conditions, and is the best choice for old-fashioned traditional orchards, as well as locations with poor soils.

Advantages: Doesn’t require much looking after, and ideal for growing traditional large apple trees.

Disadvantages: You will need a ladder and fruit-picking bags to pick the apples.

Introduction to Rootstocks

Efficient Rooting System for Apple “M.9” Rootstock Using Rice Seed Coat and Smocked Rice Seed Coat

Abstract

“M.9” rootstock is considered as one of the most useful apple (Malus x domestica Borkh.) rootstocks; it produces dwarfing trees efficiently. As “M.9” rootstock shows a poor, brittle, and shallow roots system, we grafted “M.9” rootstocks onto “Marubakaidou” (M. prunifolia Borkh. var. ringo Asami Mo 84-A). We then propagated them by mound layering to establish a high-density root system. It was found that covering the roots with rice seed coat (RSC), RSC + smoked rice seed coat (SRSC), and vermiculite during mound layering was effective for the initiation of rooting. Utilizing RSC and SRSC seemed especially effective for producing “M.9” roots efficiently.

1. Introduction

Apple (Malus x domestica Borkh.) is the second most significant cultivated fruit tree (80.82 million metric tons were produced in 2013) worldwide after banana . Rootstocks of apple trees are usually used to propagate apple cultivars, and clonal rootstock is propagated by asexual or vegetative propagation, such as cutting and tissue culture . There are two series of clonal apple rootstocks: East Malling (EM) and Malling Merton (MM), both of which are virus-free and possess size-controlling characteristics . The clonal apple rootstocks consist of three distinct types based on the tree sizes of scions (cultivars): dwarf-type “M.27,” “M.9,” and “M.26”; semidwarf-type “MM.106,” “MM.104,” “M.7,” “M.4,” and “M.2”; and no dwarf-type “MM.111,” “MM.109,” and “M.10” .

In this study, we focused on “M.9” rootstocks because apple growers desire dwarf apple trees with high quality fruits that can be reaped easily and safely, especially at harvest time . However, the “M.9” rootstock has a problem with poor, shallow, and fragile root production. Although the rooting of “M.9/29” was improved greatly by its transformation with the rolB gene from Agrobacterium rhizogenes , the transgenic apple seems to difficultly obtain government permission or public understanding, especially in Japan. On the other hand, layering is the method used for root propagation in which a portion of stem or limb grows roots while still attached to the mother plant, and it is the useful propagation method for the clonal rootstock of “M.9” . For obtaining the “M.9” roots more efficiently, we investigated the effectiveness of rice seed coat (RSC), smoked rice seed coat (SRSC), and vermiculite for the “M.9” root production.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Plant and Covering Material

The experiment was conducted in 2013 and 2014. The rootstocks “M.9” Nagano (ACLSV-free) and “Marubakaidou” (M. prunifolia Borkh. var. ringo Asami Mo 84-A) from Nagano Fruit Experimental Station were used as scions and stocks, respectively. Both scions and stocks were selected from one-year-old branches.

Rice seed coat (RSC) and smoked rice seed coat (SRSC) were obtained from the Experimental Farm of TOGO field in Nagoya University and Kinahta Mizunami Shop in Mizunami City, Gifu, Japan. The vermiculite was obtained from Asian Seed Co., Ltd., Japan.

2.2. Grafting and Layering of “M.9” Rootstock

Bark grafting for “M.9” Nagano scions and “Marubakaidou” stocks was conducted in March at Nagano Experimental Station. They were planted in ten columns and seven rows with 50 cm and 100 cm spaces between plants and rows, respectively, at the experimental field in Nagoya University.

For mound layering, the grafted “M.9” Nagano rootstocks (5 and 65 in 2013 and 2014, resp.) were covered with RSC (two and 15 in 2013 and 2014, resp.), SRSC (two and 10 in 2013 and 2014, resp.), 50%  ×  50% mix of RSC and SRSC (R + S) (10 in 2014), vermiculite (10 in 2014), and soil and with no cover (control) (one and 10 in 2013 and 2014, resp.), when their height exceeded 3 cm. A week after the covering, all of the rootstocks including control were covered by soil, especially when their height exceeded 10 cm, and covering with soil extended until they were 30 cm tall.

2.3. Digging and Measurement of “M.9” Rootstock

Digging out one or two of each of the grafted “M.9” rootstocks was carried out on the 22nd of June, August, and October 2014 and backfilled. Finally, all the grafted “M.9” rootstocks were dug out on the first of December, 2014. After digging them out we measured the number, length, diameter, and the fresh and dry weight of the roots, which appeared from the covering material layer.

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. Root Initiation of “M.9” Nagano

We collected “M.9” Nagano and “Marubakaidou” rootstocks at Nagano and then grafted “M.9” Nagano as scions on the next day at Nagoya University in 2013, but all the grafted “M.9” rootstocks died after being covered with RSC, SRSC, or soil (results not shown). The rootstocks seemed to have lost their freshness and the amount of their callus, which plays a critical role in graft union before grafting. As the timing of grafting seemed to be important, we collected both rootstocks and grafted them on the same day in Nagano in 2014. All grafted “M.9” rootstocks grew well except for three rootstocks covered by SRSC. SRSC seemed to have strong water-leaching ability; therefore, those rootstocks might have died from being dried out. To solve the problem, we changed the watering schedule from once to twice per 24 hours.

Newly generated roots were obtained on the 22nd of June at rootstock sites covered with RSC, R + S (RSC + SRSC), and vermiculite; however, no roots were induced with SRSC, soil, or control (Figure 1). The greatest number of roots was produced by R + S. Generally, development and growth of roots were strongly affected by soil texture, moisture, fertility, and aeration . As soil and control (covered by soil one week after) conditions are heavy compared to RSC, RSC + SRSC, and vermiculite conditions, the “M.9” rootstocks covered by soil seemed to damage healthy buds before root initiation. RSC, RSC + SRSC, and vermiculite affected the bud stem colors of “M.9” rootstocks and changed them to yellow or yellowish, which might induce root initiation early. In case of SRSC, the water supply seemed to cause a depression of the SRSC layer when covered by soil. Therefore, roots were not observed in June; however, the roots of the same degree as RSC, RSC + SRSC, and vermiculite were produced on the 22nd of August and October (results not shown). Although the initiation of rooting was delayed at RSC covering, rooting efficiency including root numbers and weight seemed to be recovered from its fertilizer effect. Similar timing of “M.9” root growth initiation has been reported by Psarras et al. .

Figure 1 “M.9” roots produced after one-month treatment of rice seed coat (RSC), smoked rice seed coat (SRSC), combined 50% RSC and 50% SRSC (R + S), vermiculite (Verm.), soil (Soil), and no soil (Cont.).

3.2. Root Generation of “M.9” Nagano

Generalized root numbers were significantly higher in RSC (/plant) and SRSC (/plant) than in control (/plant) on the first of December (Figure 2(a)). The number of roots was also higher in R + S, vermiculite, and soil than in control but not significantly (Figure 2(a)). Tamai et al. reported that “M.9” Nagano rootstock that produced roots by mound layering lost the colors of young shoots (etiolating) and that the average root numbers per shoot were about 10 when harvested from 3- to 5-year-old stool bed. The average root numbers increased twice by utilizing RSC and SRSC (Figure 2(a)). The combination of etiolation and banding shading increased rooting significantly; in fact, “M.7” and “MM.106” clonal rootstocks produced significantly higher roots under dark treatments than those that were treated by persistent light . Higher root numbers from RSC and SRSC covering than from those of other materials might have been caused by the effective etiolation of buds by shading (Figure 2(a)).

(a)
(b)
(c)
(a)
(b)
(c) Figure 2 Number (a), dry (b) and fresh weight (c) of “M.9” roots per plant which appeared after 6-month treatment with rice seed coat (RSC), smoked rice seed coat (SRSC), combined 50% RSC and 50% SRSC (R + S), vermiculite (Verm.), soil (Soil), and no soil (Cont.). Values represent the means ± SE of 4 or 7 plants, and those with different letters differed significantly at by one-way anova followed by Dunnett’s multiple comparison test.

Regarding fresh and dry weight of roots, SRSC and R + S brought about heavier weight than those of the control (Figures 2(b) and 2(c)). Concerning root length and diameter, however, we could not detect any significant differences among the treatment materials (results not shown). Before use, SRSC was changed from nonorganic (RSC) to organic material (ash), which had dark colors and contained more fertilizer. Therefore, SRSC and R + S containing ash and a half of SRSC ash, respectively, brought about heavier root fresh and dry weights than the control (Figures 2(b) and 2(c)). Vermiculite contains no fertilizer, and it seemed to therefore produce poor roots among the treated materials (Figures 2(b) and 2(c)).

4. Conclusions

We have compared the effectiveness of RSC, SRSC, vermiculite, and soil against root proliferation of “M.9” apple rootstock. Although SRSC did not cause early root initiation, the final root numbers and fresh and dry weight of roots treated with it were the greatest among the materials. It was suggested that SRSC was the most suitable material for “M.9” apple root propagation by mound layering, but as SRSC needs watering twice a day R + S could be used alternately. As the weights of RSC and SRSC are far lighter than that of soil, these materials should be used instead of soil for the reduction of labor.

Conflict of Interests

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.

Acknowledgments

The authors are indebted to Dr. T. Tsuge for supplying the rice seed coat. They also wish to thank Dr. R. Nakajima for his technical assistance. This research was carried out under the Project for the Promotion and Enhancement of the Afghan Capacity for Effective Development (PEACE).

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Rootstocks – Apple Trees

This is a guide to the most common apple tree rootstocks. When buying apple trees from us, you do not need to worry about choosing the right rootstock – each of our trees is grown on the most suitable one for its intended final shape and size.

However for those who are interested, the realtionship between a rootstock and a variety is similar to the one between a car model and engine size. BMW 3 series cars come with a range of engine sizes. Bramley or Discovery apples (for example) come with a range of rootstocks. Just as the bigger engine makes your BMW go faster, so a more vigorous rootstock makes your Bramley grow bigger. In the table below, the mature sizes shown are approximate maximums: the variety of apple, the soil type, the amount of sun and the way the tree is pruned will have an effect on how big the tree can potentially grow.

Apple Tree Rootstocks At a Glance

Rootstock Name Size Range & Max. Mature Height Common uses
M27 Very Dwarfing (2 metres) Rarely used. Pots or Cordons. Requires support.
M9 Dwarfing (2.5 metres) Cordons. Requires support. but always grown against a wall or the like
M26 Semi-Dwarfing (3.5 metres) Bushes. Requires support in windy conditions
MM106 Semi-Vigorous (4 metres All purpose – can even be used for cordons. Needs no support when established.
M25 Vigorous (6-7 metres) Cider apple trees & commercial growing. Picking-crane required for harvest and spraying. Needs no support when established.

You can buy apple & pear rootstocks here.

Each tree will tell you on its page which rootstock it is grown on: we use MM106 for almost all of the apple trees you buy here. It works for both trained shapes like fans or espaliers and can also produce a mature tree that is a manageable size for a garden.

  • Some of our vigorous trees need to be grown on M9 when they are sold as cordons.
  • Some cider apple trees are grown on M25 to give you the biggest possible crop.

Detailed Description of Apple Tree Rootstocks

M27 is the least vigorous rootstock, producing a tree that will struggle to reach 2 metres (6 feet).
Its major shortcoming is that growing conditions have to be ideal and even then your crop will be small.
It is rarely used and we do not grow any trees on it.

M9 is a dwarfing rootstock, producing a tree about 2-2.5m (7-8ft), which is ideal for cordon apples.
Soil preparation is very important – M9 has shallow, weak roots that need rich soil to get what they need. They are also not strong enough to compete with grass & weeds and will always need watering in dry weather.
M9 trees need permanent support if you want to grow them as a small bush (cordons are wire-trained).

M26 is a semi dwarfing rootstock, producing a tree 2.5-3.5m (8-10ft) at maturity. The size is suited to smaller gardens, but like M9, the M26 rootstocks do not have a strong root system and require permanent support.
We think that M9 is best for cordons, while MM106 is better for any larger sizes.

MM106 is an all purpose rootstock that is used by both gardeners and commercial orchards, producing a free-standing tree around 4m (12ft), which can easily be kept a smaller size of about 2.5 metres with a good pruning regime. It is also great for wall trained fans and espaliers.
After your trees are established, they do not need support.
We grow most of our apple trees on MM106.

M25 is the classic rootstock of the cider apple orchard, where the biggest crops are needed to get loads of juice. It is too large for most people’s gardens, producing a free standing tree that can be 6-7 metres (20 feet plus) in height.
We grow a few cider apples on M25 but you must have access to a proper cherry picker and commercial grade spraying equipment when they are mature – using a ladder is simply too dangerous for you and is likely to damage the tree too.

Apple Tree Rootstocks and Tree Sizes

We graft our apple, cider and crab-apple trees on to a wide range of traditional and modern rootstocks, to control the mature size of the tree and confer attributes such as disease-resistance and cold-hardiness. If you have specific requirements please contact us.

Very-dwarf apple rootstocks

G65 rootstock

  • Mature height: Very small, 5ft-7ft
  • Spacing: 3ft-4ft
  • Bearing age: 2-3 years
  • Staking: Required

Suitable forms: Small centre leader, Pyramid, Step-over, Patio container

Derived from the very dwarfing M27 rootstock, but noticeably more vigorous.

Ground around the tree should be kept weed-free (e.g. mulched). Requires regular watering / irrigation.

Dwarf apple rootstocks

M9 rootstock

  • Mature height: Small, 6ft-10ft
  • Spacing: 3ft-7ft
  • Bearing age: 2-3 years
  • Staking: Required

Suitable forms: Small centre leader / spindlebush, Cordons, oblique cordons, Small espalier / fan, The most important dwarf apple rootstock, planted worldwide. However not ideal for North American growers because it is not particularly winter-hardy and has poor resistance to fireblight.

Ground around the tree should be kept weed-free (e.g. mulched). Requires regular watering / irrigation.

Bud.9 rootstock

  • Mature height: Small, 6ft-10ft
  • Spacing: 3ft-7ft
  • Bearing age: 2-3 years
  • Staking: Required

Suitable forms: Small centre leader / spindlebush, Cordons, oblique cordons, Small espalier / fan

Similar or slightly less vigorous than M9, but with excellent winter cold hardiness. Needs good soils, not happy on sandy soil.

Ground around the tree should be kept weed-free (e.g. mulched). Requires regular watering / irrigation.

G.11 rootstock

  • Mature height: Small, 6ft-10ft
  • Spacing: 3ft-7ft
  • Bearing age: 2-3 years
  • Staking: Required

Suitable forms: Small centre leader / spindlebush, Cordons, oblique cordons, Small espalier / fan

G.11 is similar to M9 but with better fireblight resistance. It is also tolerant of wet conditions / phytophthora. It is increasingly used in commercial orchards as a replacement for M9, planted at 2ft or 3ft spacings. For the backyard orchard, 7ft spacings would be more practical. It is not resistant to replant syndrome.

Ground around the tree should be kept weed-free (e.g. mulched). Requires regular watering / irrigation.

G.16 rootstock

  • Mature height: Small, 6ft-10ft
  • Spacing: 3ft-7ft
  • Bearing age: 2-3 years
  • Staking: Recommended

Suitable forms: Small centre leader / spindlebush, Cordons, oblique cordons, Small espalier / fan, G.16 is slightly more vigorous than M9, and with superior winter cold hardiness. It is resistant to fireblight and has some tolerance of wet conditions / phytophthora. It is not resistant to replant syndrome.

Unusually for a dwarf rootstock, does not always need permanent support (but probably still a good idea). An excellent choice for a small backyard.

Ground around the tree should be kept weed-free (e.g. mulched). Requires regular watering / irrigation.

G.41 rootstock

  • Mature height: Small, 6ft-10ft
  • Spacing: 3ft-7ft
  • Bearing age: 2-3 years
  • Staking: Required

Suitable forms: Small centre leader / spindlebush, Cordons, oblique cordons

G.41 is a new rootstock in the M9-class, very resistant to fireblight and collar rot and tolerant of replant disease.

Ground around the tree should be kept weed-free (e.g. mulched). Requires regular watering / irrigation.

Semi-dwarf apple rootstocks

G.935 rootstock

  • Mature height: Medium, 8ft-12ft
  • Spacing: 4ft-10ft
  • Bearing age: 3 years
  • Staking: Recommended

Suitable forms: Bush, Centre leader / spindlebush, Large cordons, Fan or espalier

G.935 was developed by Cornell University for low-vigor commercial varieties such as HoneyCrisp and PixieCrunch, where a dwarf tree is required but an M9-class rootstock would be too weak. It is productive and precocious, resistant to fireblight and replant disease, and for low-vigor scions can be planted at near-dwarf densities.

For scion varieties with average or high vigor, G.935 can be considered a small semi-dwarf rootstock, producing a tree a bit smaller than M26 – but more productive.

Ground around the tree should be kept weed-free (e.g. mulched). Requires regular watering / irrigation.

G.210 rootstock

  • Mature height: Medium, 8ft-12ft
  • Spacing: 4ft-10ft
  • Bearing age: 3 years
  • Staking: Recommended

Suitable forms: Bush, Centre leader / spindlebush, Large cordons, Fan or espalier

G.210 is a good choice for the backyard orchardist wanting a medium-size (M26-class) tree, and although staking is recommended it is not essential.

G.210 was developed by Cornell University as an M7 class rootstock but in practice has proved to be much less vigorous and is best considered a strong dwarf rootstock on poor soils or in high-density plantings, and a semi-dwarf on good soils or in medium-density plantings.

It is significantly more productive than M7 and M9, particularly in replant situations, and much more precocious than M7 or M26.

Ground around the tree should be kept weed-free (e.g. mulched). Requires regular watering / irrigation.

M26 rootstock

  • Mature height: Medium, 8ft-12ft
  • Spacing: 9ft-12ft
  • Bearing age: 3 years
  • Staking: Recommended

Suitable forms: Bush, Centre leader / spindlebush, Large cordons, Fan or espalier

The original Malling series semi-dwarf rootstock.

Ground around the tree should be kept weed-free (e.g. mulched). Requires regular watering / irrigation.

G.202 rootstock

  • Mature height: Medium, 8ft-12ft
  • Spacing: 9ft-12ft
  • Bearing age: 3 years
  • Staking: Recommended in lighter soils

Suitable forms: Bush, Centre leader / spindlebush, Large cordons, Fan or espalier

Similar to M26 but with much better resistance to fireblight, collar rot (phytophthora), and woolly aphid and therefore a better choice than M26 in warmer climates where woolly aphid can be an issue.

Ground around the tree should be kept weed-free (e.g. mulched). Requires regular watering / irrigation.

G.222 rootstock

  • Mature height: Medium, 8ft-12ft
  • Spacing: 9ft-12ft
  • Bearing age: 3 years
  • Staking: Recommended in lighter soils

Suitable forms: Bush, Centre leader / spindlebush, Large cordons, Fan or espalier

Slightly larger than M26, but far more productive and precocious. Resistant to fireblight.

M7 rootstock

  • Mature height: Medium, 9ft-12ft
  • Spacing: 10ft-12ft
  • Bearing age: 3 years
  • Staking: Recommended in lighter soils

Suitable forms: Bush, Centre leader / spindlebush, Large cordons, Fan or espalier

One of the original Malling series rootstocks, widely planted in North America, and noticeably more vigorous than M26.

G.30 rootstock

  • Mature height: Medium, 9ft-12ft
  • Spacing: 10ft-12ft
  • Bearing age: 2-3 years
  • Staking: Required

Suitable forms: Bush, Centre leader / spindlebush, Large cordons, Fan or espalier

An adaptable, precocious, and productive new rootstock. It produces a tree somewhat larger than M26, similar to M7, and much heavier-cropping than either. It has good fireblight resistance and cold-hardiness.

G.30 is very well anchored but nevertheless permanent staking or support is essential for trees on this rootstock, because of the weight of apples it can produce which on some varieties can over-stress the graft union.

Probably the best rootstock of any size class if your ground is subject to flooding – but it must be staked.

G.890 rootstock

  • Mature height: Medium, 9ft-12ft
  • Spacing: 10ft-12ft
  • Bearing age: 2-3 years
  • Staking: Not necessary

Suitable forms: Bush, Centre leader / spindlebush, Large cordons, Fan or espalier

An M7-class rootstock with good resistance to fireblight and woolly aphid, crown rot and root rot, and tolerance of re-plant disease.

A good alternative to G.30 if permanent support is not available.

G.969 rootstock

  • Mature height: Medium, 9ft-12ft
  • Spacing: 10ft-12ft
  • Bearing age: 2-3 years
  • Staking: Recommended in lighter soils

Suitable forms: Bush, Centre leader / spindlebush, Large cordons, Fan or espalier

Similar to G.890 in most respects, but tree size is more variable depending on soil and climate.

Semi-vigorous apple rootstocks

MM106 rootstock

  • Mature height: Large, 10ft-14ft
  • Spacing: 12ft-18ft
  • Bearing age: 2-3 years
  • Staking: Not necessary

Suitable forms: Half-standard, Bush, Large centre leader / spindlebush, Large fan or espalier

MM106 is one of the most widely-grown semi-vigorous rootstocks. Susceptible to collar rot on wet sites. Easy to grow and versatile.

MM111 rootstock

  • Mature height: Large, 10ft-16ft
  • Spacing: 12ft-18ft
  • Bearing age: 4-5 years
  • Staking: Not necessary

Suitable forms: Half-standard, Bush, Large centre leader / spindlebush, Large fan or espalier

MM111 is one of the most adaptable of all rootstocks, and will grow in a very wide range of soil conditions. It is a good choice for a traditional orchard. MM111 is also noted for its good drought tolerance when mature – thanks to its extensive spreading root system.

MM111 can be slow to come into bearing, and is not suitable for the coldest zones.

Bud. 118 rootstock

  • Mature height: Large, 10ft-16ft
  • Spacing: 12ft-18ft
  • Bearing age: 3-4 years
  • Staking: Not necessary

Suitable forms: Half-standard, Large centre leader / spindlebush, Large fan or espalier

Produces a semi-standard tree, similar to MM111 but with much better cold hardiness.

Bud. 118 also confers some fireblight resistance (although not as much as the Geneva-series rootstocks).

It is very precocious compared to other semi-vigorous rootstocks, and tolerates heavy soils and difficult conditions.

Full-size apple rootstocks

P.18 rootstock

  • Mature height: Very large, 14ft-20ft+
  • Spacing: 24ft+
  • Bearing age: 5 years
  • Staking: Not necessary

Suitable forms: Full-standard

P.18 is a vigorous apple rootstock and will eventually produce a full-size tree. It is also very cold-hardy, and has some resistance to crown-rot and fireblight.

P.18 is derived from Antonovka.

Antonovka rootstock

  • Mature height: Very large, 14ft-20ft+
  • Spacing: 24ft+
  • Bearing age: 5 years
  • Staking: Not necessary

Suitable forms: Full-standard

Antonovka is a seedling apple rootstock and will eventually produce a full-size tree. It is also very cold-hardy.

Victoria dwarf Pixy plum

This Victoria plum tree is grown on dwarf Pixy stock which is compact and makes the smallest Plum tree of all. Trees can be maintained at around 180cm’s in height with a similar spread, perhaps a little less if contained in a 20-24”” pot. The trees are easy to manage and easy to harvest with no ladders required.
Victoria is the most well known and enduring Plum tree variety of them all, scarcely needing description. Generally does well, during years of over-abundance some thinning is a good idea to prevent bi-ennial cropping. The classic dual purpose plum.
Victoria dwarf plum tree – season
Generally can be used from late August to mid September.
Victoria Plum – appearance & flavour
Oval light red over yellow, when fully ripen purple-red. Juicy yellow inner flesh, sumptuous flavour. Perfect for dessert but also admirably suited to all culinary purposes.
Victoria – pollination
No pollinators are required to produce the large, quality fruits.
Tree sizes for Victoria plum tree:
St Julien ‘A’ A vigorous tree mostly used for field and grassy area’s, paddock and orchard. Promotes high yields and makes a good disease-resistant tree suitable for most soils and areas. It will mature to 360cm’s approx with a spread slightly less. Plant 300cm’s apart. Can be grown into half standard or bush form.
Pixy Rootstock Is the only ‘dwarf’ rootstock for Plums. An ideal choice for smaller areas and contained gardens, it is also happy being kept in a 20-24” container Can be maintained at around 200cm’s although it will grow more without pruning. Space 180-210cm’s apart.

Rootstocks for Plum trees

These plum rootstocks are suitable for most European plum varieties, as well as the closely related species of gages, damsons, and mirabelles. There are not as many plum rootstocks as there are for apples, and there are no extremely-dwarfing plum rootstocks.

Pixy

St. Julien rootstock fruits

This rootstock was developed by East Malling Research in 1949 and released for use in the 1970s (it is actually a seedling of a St. Julien) and until recently has been the primary semi-dwarf plum rootstock in the UK. It produces a somewhat smaller tree than St Julien, and is also slightly more precocious – the tree will bear fruit about a year earlier than the same variety grafted on St. Julien.

Trees grown on this rootstock will need staking for the first 4-5 years, and require good soil conditions and reliable watering.

Pixy can be considered roughly equivalent to the apple M26 rootstock in the size of tree it produces.

Krymsk 1 / VVA-1

This Russian rootstock is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. It is a cross between two minor plum species, Prunus tomentosa and Prunus cerasifera, and can be used for peaches and apricots as well as plums. It produces a semi-dwarf tree, sometimes a bit smaller and sometimes a bit larger than the popular Pixy rootstock. In the longer term we expect this rootstock is likely to replace Pixy.

Fruit size is better than Pixy and on a par with St. Julien.

As you might expect, VVA-1 is far more cold-hardy than Pixy and St. Julien, making it preferable for growers in central Europe and North America where winter temperatures are much lower than in the UK. It also comes out of dormancy more reliably in the spring.

The main drawback, as with most dwarf rootstocks, is that VVA-1 needs good soil and cannot tolerate drought conditions so it is important to keep the tree well watered over the spring and summer.

Plumina

A French semi-dwarf plum rootstock, similar to Pixy but with improved fruit size.

Wavit

The Wavit rootstock is a seedling of a European plum variety called Wangenheim. Unlike most other plum rootstocks it is therefore a true European plum (Prunus domestica) and hence has excellent compatibility as a plum rootstock, whilst also being useful for apricots.

It produces a free-standing semi-vigorous tree, roughly similar to St. Julien or a bit smaller, but of similar productivity and with good fruit size.

It is slightly more precocious than St. Julien – cropping may start in the third year. Another characteristic which is popular with commercial growers is that fruit ripens a few days earlier than the same variety on St. Julien.

It is suitable for a wide-range of soil conditions, with some tolerance of chalky soils.

St. Julien

St Julien is the most widely-used rootstock for plums in the UK. It is a semi-vigorous rootstock, roughly equivalent to the apple MM106 roostock in the size of tree it produces – although in good soils and in good climates (with good sunshine and rainfall) it can be somewhat more vigorous.

St. Juliens belong to the species Prunus insititia, which also includes damsons and mirabelles, and were originally grown for their fruit, which is not particularly pleasant to eat but useful for drying (see photo right). This nicely illustrates the fact that most fruit tree rootstocks are actually fruit trees of the same or closely-related species which happen to be useful for controlling scion-size, even if they are not that useful for fruit production themselves.

St. Julien rootstocks produce a tree which is substantially smaller than plum trees grown on their own roots. It is compatible with almost all plums and gages. (In fact it is also widely used for peaches, nectarines, and apricots, which are very closely related to plums).

Plum trees grown on St. Julien rootstocks tend to come into bearing after 3-4 years. They can be used to produce free-standing trees (with no staking required once established) and are also ideal for large fans for wall-training – a format which is particularly suitable for plums in more northerly latitudes. A mature fan will be 3m-5m across and 3m or so high.

St. Julien is suitable for a wide-range of soil conditions, with some tolerance of chalky soils.

Adaptabil

A new rootstock for European plums (and apricots), developed in Romania from a cross of the Western Sand Cherry (Prunus besseyi) which is found in North America. It is similar in vigour to St. Julien but more tolerant of poor soils, including (as its parentage suggests) sandy soils where drought is often a factor.

Jaspi

A semi-vigorous rootstock, very similar to St. Julien but with better tolerance of standing water in the orchard. It is a cross between Prunus salicina (the Japanese plum) and Prunus spinosa (the Sloe, often found in English hedgerows) – both naturally compact species.

Torinel

Developed in France from crosses involving the well-known green gage Reine Claude de Bavay, Torinel is similar to St. Julien in most respects, and suitable for a wide range of soils.

Although it can be used for plums, it appears particularly suitable for apricots.

Brompton

Brompton is a traditional English plum seedling rootstock, used when a “full size” or “standard” tree is required. It tolerates most soils and growing conditions.

Introduction to Rootstocks

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