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Choosing the right rootstock for your apple and pear trees

Rootstock for apple tree nursery

A rootstock is the root system of any given tree. They’re used for tree propagation and determine the eventual size of the tree. They’re also instrumental in helping the tree cope with different soil types – for example wetter or drier conditions or soil that is of poor quality - to promote disease resistance and to ensure compatibility with weather variations at the orchard’s location, such as cold winters.

We owe thanks to the Romans not only for our love of apples but also the skill to graft them. All apple trees are grafted because apples don’t come true from seed: if you want to ensure a cultivar, you have to take a cutting.

How to grow a new tree

To propagate a new tree, some of last year's growth from the ‘mother tree’ is cut off (scion wood) and then  grafted or budded onto the rootstock. Rootstock needs to be compatible to form a strong union with the scion wood – for example, apple trees need apple rootstock – although there are some exceptions to this such as quince rootstock being grown with some pears. Once the union of rootstock and scion wood is made, the selected variety grows up to become the tree, which can then be planted out in the ground (or potted).

Rootstock varieties from our apple and pear tree nursery

There are many different rootstocks available. Here at Tyn y Berllan we have chosen to graft our apple trees on varieties we feel most appropriate to our climate and the needs of our customers:

  • M116 – Medium. 3.5m+ high.

Space trees 3-6m apart. 150-180 trees per acre. Tolerant of wetter soil conditions. Start fruiting after 3-4 years.

  • MM106 – Semi vigorous. 3.5m+ high.

Space trees 3-6m apart. 150-180 trees per acre. Good for half standards, espaliers, cordons. Start fruiting after 3-4 years.

  • M25 – Very vigorous. 4.5m+ high.

Space trees 6-9m apart. Ideal in poorer soil and/or in exposed sites. Start fruiting after 5-6 years.

Our pear trees are grafted using:

  • Pyrus Kirchensaller - Very vigorous. 6m+ high.

Space trees 8-10m apart. Ideal for tradition orchards. Although slower into cropping – from around 7-8 years -  the fruit will be high quality.

  • Quince A - Semi vigorous. Approx 4m high.

Space trees 4-6m apart. Perfect for fan-trained trees and espaliers. Starts fruiting 5-6 years.

  • Pyrodwarf - Vigorous. Approx 5m high.

Space trees 6-8m apart. Very tough rootstock producing good quality uniform fruit after around 4-5 years.

Buy apple trees online 

Hopefully this will provide you with an overview of what rootstock is and what you might need to consider when purchasing your trees. If you require further assistance or help choosing the right rootstock you can contact us here.


Frank P Matthews rootstocks for fruit poster
Image by kind permission of Frank P Matthews tree nursery. We buy all our rootstock from them and you can find them here.