Dwarf Fruit trees

Asked August 15, 2015, 6:09 PM EDT

Growing a semidwarf plum tree in Espalier form. It seems to be to much growth for the area. Is there any dwarf fruit tree varieties that can grow in Ky. (Louisville area)? Thank you

Jefferson County Kentucky

1 Response

An espalier form is usually on a frame or trellis and involves training a fruit tree flat on a wall or fence. First since so much time, energy and money have gone into the trees you currently have, training and pruning more vigorously may help to reduce the size of the plum trees.

Pruning to a trellis:

Nearly all fruit and nut tree varieties are grafted to a genetically different root system, called a rootstock. Rootstocks are not chosen for their fruit. Most originally were selected for their ability to control overall tree size. Some were selected for other characteristics, such as the following:

• Efficient yield production

• Disease resistance

• Tolerance of different soil conditions, including poorly drained soils

• Cold hardiness

The ultimate size of a tree depends on the vigor of both the rootstock and the grafted variety.

Plum Rootstocks

St. Julian GF 655-2: A clonal rootstock for peaches and plums that produces moderately vigorous, productive trees that do well on heavy, wet soils and have fair resistance to Phytophthora and bacterial canker.

Myrobolan (Myro):A standard-size rootstock. Produces a well-anchored tree, grows well on a wide range of soil types, and is highly compatible with many cultivars. Suckers at the trunk base are common.

Marianna GF 8-1:Vigorous French rootstock somewhat more tolerant of poorly drained soils than Myrobolan. Winter hardiness is questionable. It is tolerant of calcareous soils but is sensitive to common nematodes. It is only suggested for limited trial.

Rootstock for KY fruit trees:http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ho/ho82/ho82.pdf

When you choose a variety based on flavor, harvest period, disease resistance, color, etc., it is the grafted variety you are choosing, not the rootstock.

Recommended fruit tree varieties recommended for KY:

This next link is to an older publication, but the information on growth, pruning and shaping fruit trees and shrubs is quite valuable. Growing Fruit in KY: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/anr/PDF/Growing%20Fruit%20at%20Home%20in%20Kentucky.PDF

Feel free to contact our office if you have other questions.

Let me know if I can help you further!

Carol Wilder
Horticulture Technician
Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service
810 Barret Ave
Louisville KY 40204