Own root Apple Tree's as cordons?


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In my first year of gardening - season before last - I bought a bundle of 6 fruit trees (two apple, pear, plumb, peach and cherry) on sale. They were sold as "cordon trees - ideal for containers".

The first year I had them in large containers, but then decided to plant them in the ground over winter. It's only then that I realized they were all own-root trees.

They've put on a huge amount of growth this spring/summer - I'm about to prune them.

Will I be able to keep them pruned to size, or have I been conned? I bought them from a fairly well established online place.
 
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It depends on how large your containers are. Even dwarf varieties of fruit trees are big and their roots will eventually become rootbound in a container. Yes, you can prune them to stay smaller but when you do you will loose productivity, but the roots just keep on growing and will fill up any container.
 

NigelJ

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In my first year of gardening - season before last - I bought a bundle of 6 fruit trees (two apple, pear, plumb, peach and cherry) on sale. They were sold as "cordon trees - ideal for containers".
Almost all trees sold in the UK are grafted onto a rootstock, the rootstock controls the growth of the scion, on their own roots apples, pears and plums get huge; I grew up with a Bramley on it's own root and it was as big as the house. The label should show the rootstock on it and the graft can often be seen towards the base of the stem. On planting fruit trees the graft should be above the soil level to prevent the growth of roots from the scion.
Apples for cordons are often grafted onto M9 or M26, pears onto Quince A or Quince C and plums onto Pixy. as well as vigour the rootstock also brings forward the time to fruiting.
 
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What I purchased (I have the email receipt) is this.


I got them on sale and only paid £30.

I am pretty certain the trees I have aren't grafted onto anything. The stem just goes right down to roots - there is no little grafting lump.

The peach is still in a container in the polytunnel. I pruned it this winter and by May I had to prune it again as it was filling the polytunnel. It's now August and it's filled the polytunnel again! How on earth can it work as a cordon if it grows at this rate!

The rest are planted as cordon's along a fence line. They've been less vigorous than the peach, but the new growth coming out all along the length of the trees is about 2 - 3 feet long. I imagine it will grow even faster when the roots are better established.

I don't mind the work of pruning them, but is it viable to train own root trees this way to keep them tiny? And if so, can I prune them a few times a year to keep them neat? I know you're supposed to prune cordons in August only?

I've mailed the company to see what they say.

edit: I purchased 3 apple trees from somewhere else the same year - they are on rootstock, so I do have something to compare with.
 

NigelJ

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Have a look at these: https://www.chrisbowers.co.uk/supercolumns.php and https://www.orangepippintrees.co.uk/articles/fruit-tree-advice/ballerina-and-minarette-fruit-trees
Minarette and Ballerina trees were bred to have a restricted habit for patio and container growing, never tried them myself.
Peaches are often grown as fan trained against a wall and in Ayrshire I would expect protection to be essential as they are prone to damage from spring frosts.
This might be of interest https://www.scottishfruittrees.com/heritage-varieties
 
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Thank you. I'll take a look. The three grafted apple trees that I purchased at the same time were from Chris Bowers - they've done great.

So can I assume from this reply that you think I should dig up the own-root trees before they cause me problems and replace them with something more appropriate?
 
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