Drought tolerant rootstock

What’s the most drought tolerant rootstock for stone fruits?

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Possibly Lovell. But even Citation in my setup will take enough drought to shrivel up the fruits right on the tree without dropping many leaves.

I’ve been wondering about water/heat sensitivity with Krymsk 1. I got a few this year for grafting. They have had very light green leaf color. I have them in well drained soil with holes in the bottom of the pot. I thought maybe they aren’t getting enough water. I can’t see how they would be getting too much water. Maybe the roots are getting too hot when the soil dries out. I’m not sure what the problem could be.

K1 seems pretty drought tolerant. I’ve got about 60 trees in second leaf and like them so far. From past experience the fruit will be small but very sweet.

Light color leaves in a pot could mean nitrogen deficiency.


I had the same symptoms.
According to breeders posts in Europe I have been told
generally K1 rootstock suffers very fast to deficiency symptoms (especially magnesium)

After several treatments with magnesium and iron they were green again.

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Do not use Colt, Gisela-5, or Citation. Those 3 are reported to be drought sensitive.


@fruitnut Thanks for your perspective on K1’s drought tolerance. My first thought was nitrogen deficiency, but it hasn’t really responded to extra nitrogen so far.

@Alcedo Thanks for the tip. Maybe I’m not adding enough micronutrients to my soil mix for this variety. I’ll try adding more.


I have mixed reviews about citation rootstock, the multi-grafts pluots on citation can survive up to 5-7 days without been watered, on the other hand, my Bella Gold Peacotums, on citation, will start wilting in just 2-3 days if don’t water them.

Same thing with Lovell, My Spice Zee nectaplum doesn’t handle dry soil very well, whereas Sweet Bagel peach, can go without water for about six days.

About two years ago, I bought a K1 rootstock from Raintree Nursery, I planted in a pot, during the first three months it grew pretty well, but after the weather started to get hotter, the leaves shriveled and died, the rest turned yellow. After the weather started to get cooler, it started to leaf out again. Then in the Summer of 2014, the tree was starting to die, so I decided to plant it in the ground…a week later it came back to life.

This year, it put about six inches of new growth. And so far, the leaves haven’t turned yellow or died, even with very little irrigation. Yeah, sometimes I don’t have time to water my trees due to my work schedule.


How long a potted tree can go without water has nothing to do with drought tolerance and everything to do with pot size vs water loss rate of the canopy. Drought tolerance to me only has meaning for a well established in ground tree with gradual onset of water deficit. Like two weeks or longer. Then the ability of the roots to extract water from drying soil comes into play. These are also the conditions that can lead to improvements in fruit quality.

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These anecdotal observations may not be very useful because there is probably some range of actual water needs between specific varieties. In other words the top of the tree may be messing with your “data”.

Peach trees are the least tolerant of drought as any species I grow and the least tolerant of wet feet as well. They also are lousy trees to try to size up in pots if you are in the nursery business. And yet, in decent soil with good drainage they are the most vigorous growers of any fruit species I grow. In my nursery they require frequent attention to keep them from growing in a wayward form. The runner up for this is J. plums but they do not replace removed wood nearly as fast during the growing season as peaches and are much more easily corrected after the fact.

As Alan states, the variety up top probably makes a big difference. That said, I can say that at least ‘Citation’ doesn’t seem drought sensitive particularly, in my cool, dry climate. I mulch the heck out of them though.

In a desert climate, I don’t see any need to use anything other than ‘Nemagard’ on a peach.

I would think Citation might be more drought tolerant than peach species because it looks like a red-leaf plum to me and if it’s anything like myro it should be better at retrieving water. But that’s a big if.

Drought tolerant = deep roots

Wet feet tolerant (like Citation) = shallow roots

If you grow them in a bucket then it doesn’t much mater and I would think shallow roots would make more sense as would dwarfing if available.

Hansen and the Titan hybrids are the most drought tolerant peach compatible rootstocks. What I assume you are really asking for is “What rootstock will survive the longest in a pot when I fail to water it as needed.” I doubt there is much difference between any rootstocks in a bucket for that scenario unless one really favors dense endomycelial formations.

Wet feet tolerant and drought tolerant describe myrobalan.

Resurrecting this thread for IN GROUND Drought tolerance. Like dryland farming. Our average rainfall of 30" is bimodal, but can happen any time of year (most often heaviest in May and October). I do have a well, but it’s borderline Saline (4000tds). Looking for rootstock that will do ok most years dryland. There are 5 peach tree volunteers within a mile (along fencelines, and under trees) that birds have dropped, and have matured quite well, so I think it is possible, just want to give the trees the best possible start with a hardy rootstock. Drainage is GREAT on 3/4 of the place, the other 1/4 has a clay hardpan, but still has 3% slope, so OK drainage I guess (I can mound those to overcome). Has anyone had direct experience with Titan, BB106, or other Almond / Peach rootstocks in ground that can share?

Our conditions aren’t as severe as yours, but we do get essentially all of our rain in winter and early spring, so we need good drought-tolerance (and also good wind-tolerance). Lovell is deep-rooted and well-anchored, and it’s been working well for us on peaches here. It may be worth a try for you, too.

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