The Ashridge Nurseries Blog

How to Choose Rootstocks for Fruit Trees - The Easy Way

Rootstocks on fruit trees bought from our Nursery:

Rootstocks cause a lot of unnecessary worry. Rootstocks govern the growth of fruit trees and there are many different ones in existence.
This post is a long winded way of saying do not worry about rootstocks when you buy fruit trees from us; we choose the best ones for the job.

In short, we grow all of our 2 largest sizes of fruit tree, Bushes and Half Standards - on "semi-vigorous" rootstocks that produce a nice size tree for a garden or orchard.
Our 2 smallest sizes, Maidens and Cordons (only apples & pears are grown as cordons) are grown on either "semi-vigorous" or "semi-dwarfing" rootstocks depending on the variety. Whichever it is, it will be suitable for growing as a restricted, wire-trained shape.

Just What is a Rootstock?

All the fruit trees that you know and love are clones, from Granny Smith to Victoria Plum.

More than just clones, they are living in a Siamese twin relationship with another tree's roots.

So, there is only one Granny Smith apple tree (from a genetic point of view).
Cuttings of new growth from that one tree, called scions, can be grafted onto a rootstock chosen from a range of different sapling apple trees.

Grafting a scion onto a rootstock is a much better way of cloning a fruit tree from a cutting than just getting the cutting to take root itself.

The key benefit is that each rootstock type has known attributes and a predictable effect on the new tree's growth.

The practical reality is that people either want a medium-large fruit tree or they want to train a fruit tree on wires, usually against a wall or fence.
As described above, you only really need 2 rootstocks per fruit type to be able to grow any normal size tree or restricted shape like fans, espaliers, step-overs or arches.

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