B9/EMLA111 rootstock - are interstems worth it?

Looking at getting some apples trees on B9/EMLA111 interstem rootstock. Does any body have experience with it? Will that be a good rootstock for a Crimson Crisp apple tree. Looking for a semi dwarf tree that is free standing and disease resistant that doesn’t get over 14’ tall.

Skillcult has a series of videos on grafting trees on the B9/M111 rootstock. The videos discuss his experiences grafting the trees and follows the progress of the trees for several years.


edit-------- At the bottom of the page there are also blog posts dealing with interstem trees


There are several folks here who have used interstems, including me, and I’d be curious if anyone would say they would do it again. I believe @HollyGates has a number of interstem trees so hopefully he’ll weigh in here.

For me, I would say no. B9 on M111 suckers like crazy, which is great if you just want free M111 rootstocks I guess, but they seem like they are sapping more of the overall growth of the trees than I would like. I have very heavy deer pressure, so that might be making it worse since the trees get munched and then the suckers seem to come even more. I’ve also had several of the interstems swell up quite a bit, so I’m not sure what is going on there, but I’ve heard others mention this as well.

The main thing is I discovered I just don’t want such weak trees and would rather have G969 or G960 type rootstocks and keep the height down with winter pruning. I don’t think a B9/M111 will get 14 feet tall, probably closer to 10-12 at the most based on my experience. I’d rather have some extra vigor to allow me to shape the tree and make pruning choices rather than feeling I need to keep coaxing it along.

They do anchor well and they are definitely more drought-resistant than a regular B9 would be.


Curious to know whether you buried the bottom graft union or not? I did a number of B9/M111 and G41/M111 interstems last year and buried the bottom union about 3" when planting them out last fall. Will be a bit annoyed if there’s excessive suckering.



I did not bury the graft union and definitely wish I had. At the time I did them I didn’t see anything about that strategy and my B9/M111 union is right at the soil line. I might mount up some dirt around them and then add some wood chips on top to see if that helps, but now that so many suckering sites have developed I sort of think it will just keep doing it. Definitely keep us posted how it goes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally against interstem grafting, but it just seems that in my case at least the didn’t work out exactly how I had hoped. Especially if I was in an area with lower rain fall I think it would have more benefits.


Is this your first year with G41/M111 ? I am deciding if it is worth it and been looking on forum for info.

Yes, first year giving interstems (and G41) a try. Do be aware that there’s a lot of distrust in and dislike of G41 because of graft failures/breaks. In messages on this site and other places… I proceeded with it anyway because in my environment we don’t get 100MPH winds and I did all W&T grafts. Even the winds my area does get, typically where my orchard is located it’s not that bad (protected by tall trees on sides where winds usually originate from). Depending on your environment that may be something you need to give consideration to.

I desired the max dwarfing effect so went with interstem pieces about 1’ in length. As mentioned I also buried the bottom graft union about 3" in hopes the B9 or G41 would also root.

I’ll admit that in nursery pots the first year, there was far less vigor across the board than I’d gotten from various scions grafted directly onto M111 in the past. I suspect what I used for “potting soil” this year was very inferior and was largely responsible for that. Am hoping that in ground now they’ll take off.

I may just be a glutton for punishment but I’m confident enough that I plan on doing more this year! Good luck to you if you proceed as well…

PS. Interstem in general I researched quite a bit. I found discussion of at least as far back as the 1960’s and just didn’t find anything to discourage me from trying it. Free-standing + dwarf is just too enticing.


I would agree with @zendog for the most part. If I were starting over now I think I would skip the interstem and just choose a single rootstock of an appropriate size. My interstems have generally been too dwarfing for the space I wanted to fill and I have weird swelling issues going on with the G11 interstem pieces.

I have suckers from the M111 under-roots, but not so much that it is a big problem. I think I’ve read that M111 suckers a lot even on non-interstems.

Anchoring is not really an issue for me since I am strapping the trees to a trellis anyhow. Though someday if they ever get really old and thick enough to be self supporting it might be cool to take down the trellis.


Thanks. I am going to try it, just wasn’t sure if anyone had that combo, most mention B9 and I don’t want that. I don’t have the hate some people do for G41. If it’s not a bud graft (ever) and on a trellis system, not something that worries me. I have a huge problem with woolly apple aphid, it has really weakened previous grafts. When spring comes, we’ll see if the weakness has killed the trees. So I have to use a modern WAA & FB resistant stock, and most of the trees need to be dwarf. I do have some on G890, considering MM111 with interstem to mostly dwarf those middle ground apples and put them on less prime ground. Need precocity and decent roots, don’t want to risk height.