Apple Rootstock Stooling

Good Morning,
I am new to grafting and my grafts for how are doing much better than I imagined. I grafted them about mid March and most them have flowers busting out. Now that I have that complete some of my rootstocks look like they didn’t take. Instead of being discouraged I googled what else I can do with them, and came across stooling. What’s better than growing your own rootstock. I have the basis down as per google but would love if anybody has pictures of their process so I can learn from that. I’ve watch all the YouTube videos but sometimes things being explained through pictures and comments is the best! Thanks in advance


Just plant the root stock in an area where you want to create the stool bed. I would plant 18-24" apart. Let them grow this year… next year is step two! Bump your post to the top about 2-3 weeks before bud break in your area next year.

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Here is how the big nurseries propagate their apple rootstocks (after 7:50):

It may be of help to you.

P.S. The video has English subtitles. You may have to turn them on.


What about saving the rootstock and budding to it in the late summer or fall?

I don’t have pictures, but I’ve been successful even keeping apple rootstock (m111) in a taller pot with ~6” room to add above the current soil line. I had some young branches already at the base, but if not, you’ll want to cut down the rootstock to encourage that. In a the late summer, I added loose well-aerating potting media and sawdust. I think loose was key- if you use a heavy media or dirt they aren’t supposed to root as well and I can’t imagine how to get them apart later. I overwintered the pot in a warmer area (sheltered next to the house out of the sun) and then moved it to a cooler spot in late winter to delay vegetative growth for a bit. I think it was late March when I gently shook out the sawdust and found roots. At that point, I cut the rooted branches apart and babied them until the next spring. Worked ok, but it seems hard to justify doing a except as an exercise.


Great video with lots of great info @Hristo


Wow that is some operation! Does anybody have preference with doing the rootstock directly into the soil or prefer doing in large pots? I can do either or just thinking what would be the best for a rookie!

This has probably been the most helpful video yet. Even though very short it’s right to the point.
Just a summary so far what I’ve learned at what I’ll probably try this year:
-Take my unsuccessful grafted rootstock
-plant them into a large pot/ground (haven’t decided yet)
-Let it grow this season
-End of winter (March 2021) cut main stem down to the ground

  • Hopefully watch new shoots emerge, as they grow out a container around them with its bottom cut off and ass saw dust/sand little at a time to trick it into growing roots into the medium.
    -Let it grow until winter (2022) and separate roots from main tree and have a rootstock!

This is the plan and if anybody has any suggestions I would greatly appreciate it.

Sounds like a great plan! If you have enough mass to the rootstock you might not need the year of regular growing- could potentially start with saw dust this year. In the video, I like the cut off pot rings to extend the pot height during the growing season. As in the video, I have been marginally successful with rooting cuttings from my rootstocks. The last one was just stuck in a partially shaded part of the garden and grew all year and is leafing out now. I will emphasize that cutting success rates for me have been pretty darn low- like 15%.


I’m looking forward to getting them in the ground and watch their growth. I will be uploading pics as they go and then when it’s time to cut it down and watch new shoots come up then I will add the saw dust. I like looking at pictures and learning so if I’m successful this year hopefully another grafter starting out next year can see and learn from what I’ve tried. I’m glad I got into grafting and can’t wait to watch my trees grow. They are in m.111 rootstocks and the scions were all collected from my property.

Sometimes the stooling comes to you. When I dug out a tree on EMLA26 & sold it, I got a half dozen root suckers from the severed roots all around where the tree had stood. One root cut away from Geneva 30 has put out new shoots every year since.

Now I am waiting to see if/how many 8 inch stems (just six in this trial run) put into deep pots after dipping in rooting powder will make roots over winter and bud out. One so far is obvious. Two others resist a gentle tug upward. I plan to keep them potted this season, plant them in permanent spots & stool them thereafter. I chose two cultivars not generally used for rootstocks: Bardsey & Rosemary Russet. Both trees are winners here; not their fruit.

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I cut down an approximately 50 year old dwarf apple tree last year. This tree was always prone to suckering, so stooling it came naturally. I harvested quite a few root suckers from the remnant of the tree. I potted up the suckers that had viable looking root systems. I now have 7 small potted rootstock growing that I will graft next year when they size up.

My question would be do I have to leave some suckers growing to feed the rootstock each year. So far it looks like I have a ton of suckers coming up this spring, I’m just wondering if it is best to leave some growing, rather than harvesting everthing that comes up each season?

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Do you mind posting a picture so I can see what steps you’re talking about? New to all of this. TYIA

I’ll post a pic when they’ve grown a bit. They’re barely peaking out of the ground at this point. I actually have 10 rootstocks growing in pots from last year. That’s a lot of free trees once grafted. I also harvest plum rootstocks from suckers as well.

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Experience will be the best teacher in handling that sucker of a tree. As long as you are cutting suckers with a small section of roots, it could well be sustainable the rest of your life. (BTW, I learned just yesterday this is how Baldwin became a popular fruit tree.)

In most cases of stooling, the new pieces are rooted above ground via some sort of cage and wood shavings or loose sawdust built up as the shoots gain height through the season. Roots develop in the loose/damp/dark conditions you provide.
They go dormant for winter & strength is stored in the roots. At the end of winter, wash or gently sweep away the matrix to expose the new roots. Cut new root stocks at ground level & begin again.

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I cut 3 rootstocks to ground level a few weeks back and have not seen any new growth coming up. Hurts to think of cutting a young healthy tree to the base but hoping it pays off and I see some growth!

If you had left a bit of stem, the response comes quickly to whatever buds remain. I whacked a whip from the graft union to send elsewhere last February and there is vigorous growth coming from two buds now. When cutting to ground level, there is no ready site of hormone production for leaf/stem growth, so it takes longer to organize that at the upper edge of a root. Give it time and don’t over-water.

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This is a picture of an apple rootstock stool from an unknown variety, (I assume one in the Malling series from 50 years ago). The tree only attained a height of 8-10ft max on this rootstock and it was always prone to suckering. Any guess as to which rootstock it would be from a nursury 50 years ago?


M9, my guess.

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It could be M7. It is prone to suckering. Fifty years ago M7 was a very common rootstock but M9 wasn’t that common. It may have been M9 but I think M7 is more likely. An M9 tree in most cases would have been permanently supported with a stake. Was there a stake at one time?

Also do you know what the apple cultivar was? In my climate a tree on M7 would be larger unless the apple cultivar was a low vigor scion. But I am not familiar with the Gulf Islands’ climate or what type of soil you have. In your climate M7 might be a smaller tree. Or if the tree was precocious and cropped heavily early it may have “runted out” and ended up permanently smaller.

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The variety was I believe, Spartan. The Gulf Islands’ climate is fairly hot in the summer and very mild (for Canada) in the winter. We call it “Canada’s banana belt” because of its mild climate. Apple, plum, and pear fruit trees do very well in our climate and can be very long lived. Some of the heritage Apple orchards here still operate with the original stock from the 1870’s. I had 2 pear (one taken down last year) and several plum trees in the century old bracket on the property. Most fruit trees crop very abundantly here.

The apple variety that was stooled did overset regularly. At one point I had to stake it for several years, as I was worried it would topple. After reshaping/pruning I eventually removed the stake and the tree was fine without it.