Fruit Tree Rootstocks Explained

The final size of a fruit tree is dependent on several factors:

  • Selected rootstock: The vigor of a fruit tree is mainly determined by the rootstock onto which it is grafted. The dwarf rootstocks have weaker root systems than the vigorous rootstocks. Use more dwarfing rootstocks if you want smaller trees and/or are training into particular forms,
  • Vigour of the particular variety chosen: E.g. Apple Charles Ross is always less vigorous than Apple Laxtons Superb when grown on the same rootstock. The size guides that can be seen on our product pages are a guide to height and spread based upon the vigour of each variety.
  • Soil conditions: Fruit trees will not do well on poor, shallow soils.
  • Geography: Where you are in the country, latitude and altitude. Fruit trees grown in northern exposed areas on poor soils will always be less vigorous than those grown in more favourable areas.
  • Pruning regime/training method: In a set time, trees pruned or trained will not reach the same size as those free growing.

Choose your rootstock with your chosen varieties, training method and your location in mind.

Common Rootstocks

Common rootstocks for apple trees include M27 (very dwarf), M26 (semi-dwarf) and MM106 (semi-vigorous).

Common rootstocks for pear trees include Quince C (dwarf) and Quince A (semi-vigorous).

Common rootstocks for cherry trees include Gisela 5 (dwarf) and Colt (semi-vigorous).

Common rootstocks for plum trees include Pixy (dwarf) and St. Julien A (semi-vigorous).

Diagram Of Various Vigour Apple Trees On Different Rootstocks

Light green=low vigour   Medium green=medium vigour   Dark green=High vigour

Apple tree rootstock diagram