Most fruit trees are grafted onto rootstocks. This combines the delicious fruit of your chosen variety (the ‘scion’) with the clever ability to grow a tree just the right height for your garden. There are many different apple rootstocks available, but we use the three tried and tested ones that we think are best for your garden. They have unusual code-names because they were developed by the researchers at East Malling Research Station in Kent – a world-leading site of fruit science research which we think deserves to be celebrated by everyone who loves fruit.
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A ‘semi-vigorous’ rootstock, trees grow to about 4 metres. Makes a low-maintenance specimen tree in a medium or large garden, or can be trained as an espalier. Will cope with poorer soils or dry summers better than smaller trees, but will need staking for the first 5 years, especially if in a windy site.
A ‘semi-dwarfing’ rootstock, trees grow to 2-3 metres. Very productive trees need a little bit more TLC than MM106, including staking, weeding and mulching until well established. Needs a reasonably fertile soil and a site sheltered from strong winds. Good for free-standing trees in smaller gardens, or trained as a cordon or espalier.
A ‘very vigorous’ rootstock, trees grow up to about 6 metres. Trees are easy to care for and ideal for sites with poor soils and making traditional orchards with plenty of room to roam under the trees, or even graze sheep and geese! Usually used for cider apples which can be harvested as windfalls as trees are too tall to harvest by hand.