2 trees, 1 hole

Does anyone have opinions or advice about planting two fruit trees very close together and pruning them as one tree? I’m thinking about planting an apricot and nectarine like this.



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I’ve read that it works really well as long as you use similar rootstocks. I’ve seen videos where people do 3-4 trees in a 3 ft diameter And have great luck.

A photo of my intensively planted “Walk & Pick” orchard. All trees are about 3’ to 5’ apart on both sides of the walk. I prune away branches that try to extent into the walkway. Almost espaliered pruning. Trees do very well planted like this, not a new planting method, DWN promotes it, but it’s been done for decades (taken about 2 weeks ago, starting to leaf out for the season):



That’s beautifully done. I’ve noticed that your trees’ branches are more upright. I don’t know if I could do that close planting like yours here in the humid East Coast.

I planted two A. plums about 6 ft apart. I’ve pruned them to open-center so their branches are more open than yours (60 degrees angle). They’ve thrown out long canes, overlapping each other now. I wish I planted them a bit further apart.

You’ve created such a beautiful scene/walkway, indeed.

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@hoosierquilt Your trees and walk are gorgeous, as is every pic I can remember seeing of your place. I realize your setup is meant for being able to enjoy a picturesque stroll as you pick some fruit (or vice-versa), and that the desire is for variety. I always wonder how much of any particular type you (and the wildlife) are able to harvest from any single tree when grown that way. How much fruit are these trees able to support ripening well?

Thanks, mamauang and muddy. My trees actually do branch well sideways, and into each other, but I don’t have to be overly concerned about open-center, as it is so very dry here we just don’t get those disease pressures those deal with in more humid areas. And yes, “form & function” is sort of the mantra here. So, I have this walkway to get down to the bottom part of my yard, and I have these two plantable areas along side each side of my walkway. And, this is the coldest spot in my yard, what should I grow? Well – this would be the best spot possible for stone fruit. Voila. My gardening influence is very Italian, being my heritage, and what you will commonly see in Italy - fruit trees stuck in some very interesting and creative places :slight_smile: Muddy, I have very few “repeats” on my property. Only a very small select few cultivars earn a duplicate spot in my yard. As to how much fruit I get from every tree? Variable based on the cultivar. Arctic Star bears so heavily I have to thin at least twice, sometimes 3 times, and I get so many necatarines from that tree I have to give some away. And with other trees, just a handful. For me, it is not quantity but variety I am after. I don’t want a heavy crop if I can. This year, I’m going to have a gazillion Dorsett Golden apples, and several peach trees will also provide a heavy crop for me. And, determined to keep the wildlife out of my trees this year.

Ha! Ha! Short of an entirely netted enclosure, is it possible to keep all flying or furred critters away from fruit? (Ack! Too much alliteration!)

I did know that you generally grow only a single specimen of all but your most favored fruits. I assumed that production would vary, but it’s good to hear that sometimes you get more than you want for yourself. I’m just wondering that if I were to grow small, open trees, in order to have maximum variety, would I be able to hope for sufficient quantity to please the family. I’m wanting to have my cake and eat it, too. Of course, here in the Southeast the environmental pressures are different than they were in SoCal. It doesn’t work very well to grow most things too closely here. I do have a pair of peaches that are basically 2 trees/1 hole, though. They have been quite happy together. Because of their particular location, I won’t be allowing them to grow the size of our standard peach trees.

I hope you enjoy your home for many years.

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Thanks, Muddy. I’m going to take a multi-pronged approach with birds/rats/squirrels. Bait stations, mylar tape, some fruits will be screen bagged (thanks, Clint, great suggestion), possibly net my smaller trees, and I’ll post a plastic owl and a hawk kite. That’s my plan. Pulling out all the stops. Oh, and leave my garden gate open so my bunny and squirrel-killing Aussie can get down there and catch his share.

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I often plant two peaches, nectarines or plums in one hole. The only problem is that if you manage trees so branches grow away from each other they can end up falling over here because all the weight is on one side.

For now on I am going to train the branches to maintain each one as a double scaffold tree with one tree growing with one scaffold pointed straight towards and by the other tree and the other scaffold in the opposite direction (180 degrees). The other tree will cover the other points of the compass, so to speak (the branches will collectively create 90 degree angles).

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Interesting idea, Alan. I have several trees with only one scaffold heading one way on it, and while they may tip a bit they don’t ever tip too much (unless they are apples on dwarf roots). What happens to these multiple trees in one hole is the roots grow into each other and often form a single unmovable mass to support each other.

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I don’t know why, but I’ve never liked the idea of multiple trees in one hole. I saw a DWN video where they were putting 4 in one hole. Made me cringe.

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Don’t have 4 trees in one hole, but have 4 in an 8ft circle.

Appleseed, when you live on a city lot in S. California (and can’t afford acres and acres), and would like to have more than one fruit tree, this concept can be very appealing. We are very dry here, so we don’t have the kinds of pest pressures other folks on the east coast or south have to deal with. Remember, DWN is located in California, so some of their intensive planting and “small tree” philosophy is borne out of our particular geography :slight_smile: I don’t put a bunch of trees in one hole, but I do plant my trees close together.

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Hey, I’m a nurseryman. I say 8 trees to a hole!


I went the mult-graft approach. One tree 4 cultivars. Well I plan to this spring. I only have one like that now. The other trees though will be grafted this spring-summer, if all goes well. I’ll have more to do next year too, I’m going to beg for scion next winter.

I tried it, and it worked, but not in the way I expected. One tree does well. The other doesn’t and gets taken out or dies. Its all good. I will say that the practice didn’t seem to hurt the shape of the survivor tree much.

Here is a question… did you do anything to the trees? Or was it pretty much survival of the fittest? The reason I ask is due to the same thing I constantly hear with multi graft trees. It appears that if you don’t prune the stronger, take care of, or nurture the weaker tree you’ll end up exactly like that, a single tree. You need to constantly be taking care of the grouping. That involves making sure that one variety doesn’t take over the other. If you let one variety take over its only common sense the weaker will be shaded out, nutrient deprived, and ultimately end up a goner.

That’s not to say what anyone does is wrong, some people plant and forget, some plant and take care of only when a glaring problem arises, and others like me are out there every day like loons looking over their trees multiple times a day. I had the same issue with my 4-in-1’s. The trees on the east side out grew the ones on the west side. I pruned 2 times last season, and this winter came down harder on those offenders. Tipped the west side, and took off about 1-2 feet of growth on the east.

To each their own though.

Intensively planting is good if you are really tight with garden space. Or want to maximize the yield over space. It is also labor intensive on maintenance.

I have a large yard, so my trees are planted like landscape trees. They are 15’ to 20’ apart.

From memory, O’henry tree died, Fantastic Elberta lived. Mericrest nectarine got taken out, not soon enough, Redhaven stayed.

No experience with multigraft, but the unproductive parts have a vigor advantage. Lots of good varieties are not vigorous.

I really don’t have a problem balancing grafted trees. The most vigorous grafts face north. This helps a lot. They are growing at the same pace now.
I know this isn’t always possible to know. Each one of my grafts is one scaffold, so even if all scaffolds were the same, one would still need to balance. You’re always going to have to keep the south facing scaffolds in check no matter what it is on any tree.
One of the reasons I’m doing it is for more variety in the small space I have. I don’t need 300 fruits of each cultivar. 75 of 4 types would be much better. Or whatever they produce, 5 of each would be better than 20 of one.

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