Dwarfing (Apple) Rootstock Questions

Can ya’ll help with some questions here. I know some of you have way more experience than I with dwarfing rootstock. I only have trees on G30, M7, B118, Ranetka, or Antonovka. However I want to get some dwarf rootstock to graft some trees for family & friends that want some but would fruit quicker in their yards. Again im’ in W MI sandy ground so no clay or anymore most times to worry about.

I don’t want semi-dwarf I want a short stubby tree that would be easier for the average person to pick some goodness off of. I’m considering these options.




What do you all think is the winner of these. Is there chance any of them would be somewhat freestanding? Probably not with a fruit load on such a short tree type. Keep in mind these would not be a firm or clay ground in this part of the country.

Go with B.9.


Bud 9

Check out this link at Mother Earth News. The author, Ann Ralph, has published a book on the subject-- “Grow a Little Fruit Tree”. (Edit: Thanks to @hambone for mentioning the book to me, which reminded me of the article.) The article seems to have all the info needed to do it successfully. Note that she is not using dwarfing rootstock that requires permanent staking.

If my yet-to-be-attempted grafts are successful, I aim to try this method for 3-4 apple varieties in the fenced-off part of our raised bed garden.

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I’d consider 4 particular rootstocks if you’re looking to go small, specifically M27, P22, Bud 9 and G.41. The latter two are a little larger than the former, so I guess a bit depends on the pruning system you’d be using, the vigor of the variety, and your idea of the actual size of a “short stubby tree.” Are you picturing 4’ tall, 6’ tall or larger?

You may find this chart to be of some help, at least http://www.ctl.cornell.edu/plants/GENEVA-Apple-Rootstocks-Comparison-Chart.pdf

G41 has the best combination of resistance to apple replant disease and root rot resistance (although not an issue with the sandy soil). I have also had good success with M27 and Bud 9. Some of the articles compare a tree on M27 to the size of a tomato plant, but I have a Chehalis on M27 that is ten feet tall. All the other trees will tend to run a little larger, depending on scion variety.

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Thanks for the feedback. I’ve been intrigued with G.41 for awhile, but have been worried that it would produce trees a little harder to contain sizewise than M27 or P22. You’ve made me reconsider it though, given its plusses. I’ll likely pick up a few of these now from Cummins for the varieties with weaker vigor (e.g. Freyberg, Margil or Adamsapfel Ostpreussischer.)

I like G41 best for my trellised apples but, it dose not have a prayer without support. B9 or M26 would be the best for a free standing tree but staking them would be wise. I think M26 may succeed in a wider range of soils than B9.

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Old topic but I’ve been thinking about this now that the summer watering season is done. I think I want to change over some of my orchard to small dwarf trees, where I’ve been growing vegetables. Trees in the range of 5 to 7 feet tall would be best. I don’t mind pruning which is part of puttering meditation for me.

My experiences so far:

On M27

Liberty - was 4 feet tall for many years - like 10 years maybe. I dug it up three years ago and replanted in a former vegetable bed. Now it’s about 6 feet tall. I am removing lower branches which tend to droop to the ground.

Honeycrisp - I keep as kind of a joke. At about 10 years old, still under 2 feet tall and just one stem. It gets 2 or 3 apples a year.

Karmijn - was about 5 feet tall in 5 years. All of the apples were split and ugly. I wondered if Karmijn needed a more vigorous rootstalk to nourish the apples. Removed it.

Jonagold - reached about 8 feet tall in 5 years. I moved it same as Liberty, now it’s 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. I guess I could prune it back. I was careful not to bury the bud union. This tree is biennial for me, despite thinning. During nonbearing years it’s very vigorous.

I grafted some Northpole onto Bud9 this year. My original Northpole is on something way too vigorous, probably standard or semidwarf, and I want a shorter one. They took nicely. I don’t know if they will develop the typical thick stem of columnar apples, or remain too thin to bear more than a handful. Might know next year.

The trees that I want to grow small, are Gravenstein, Porter, Honeycrisp, Akane, Pristine, Rubinette, Summerred, and maybe less vigorous Jonagold although that M27 is very dwarfing for most and I don’t know what is smaller. Maybe M27 for the vigorous Porter and Gravenstein, and Bud9 for less vigorous Akane, and something more vigorous, maybe M26, for pokey growing Honeycrisp?

I don’t mind supporting them. I do want disease resistance.


There is a chart from the USDA that compares many apple rootstocks, I added a link below. It is pretty accurate except for the note that G30 is virus sensitive (it’s not). I would take a look at it and see what meets your needs as far as disease resistance and soil tolerance. If your worried about fireblight m27 and m26 are not good choices especially under susceptible scions like Gravenstein for example. I also have attached a link for the disease resistance of scions supplied by Purdue. Honeycrisp is a low vigor scion so to get a decent sized dwarf tree you may want to consider a semi-dwarf rootstock for it since it normally is small sized. Myself I would look at Bud 9, G11, and G41 for most scions except Honeycrisp. For Honeycrisp, it has some resistance to fireblight you maybe able to get away with m26 but I would look at G30 and other semidwarf rootstocks from Geneva as well as m7. M27 is very dwarfing and rarely used in commercial orchards because of this. I would be afraid m27 would runt out or be unable to bounce back in the case of animal damage, string trimmer accidents, or other misfortune. I would stake all of them in any case. Good luck with your selections.

New USDA link 5-7-2020 The old link broke when the website was changed.



Thanks for the info. I’ve been reading it.

I don’t think fireblight is a problem for me so far. There is always next year. I have a Gravenstein on a larger growing rootstock, and that does fine. But so vigorous!

Bud 9 is easy to find. That part about susceptibility to voles is concerning, although I do use hardware cloth collars.

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I’ve been reading the topic on Geneva rootstocks, That has me concerned about devoting time and heart into that lineage, even if it relates primarily to bud grafts and I’m using whip-and-tongue grafting.

I had a graft failure of fully loaded Pristine on unknown rootstock. That was one of my most favorite varieties, and now I don’t have a bearing branch of that one. Even though I don’t know the rootstock, that gives me pause. I should note, also, that was a commercial (Raintree) multi-graft and I’m certain it was a bud graft.

Ordering season is still months away, so I have time to research. Reading your response @mroot, I’m thinking Bud-9 for most, M27 for Gravenstein and Jonagold (such vigorous triploids) and Porter, and still need to research for Honeycrisp.

Fun to think about as winter approaches.

As I age and become less agile and slow down, what I want is easily managed small size trees that
I can putter around, producing a few bowls of apples from each tree from July to November. I can’t thin on a ladder, and feel wasteful when a tree has too many fruits all at once. Small dwarfs seem like a good approach for my future. Also columnar, which have similar advantages and I am experimenting with. The problem with those is patent confusion, not knowing how the rootstocks work out (I suspect the dwarfing sizes are more related to tree biomass, or volume, while they are described more as linear height. So columnar trees may grow too tall on a rootstock listed as shorter, compared to regular trees. I had one that reached about 20 feet tall, not the 6 to 10 feet they described), the expense of buying these novelties, and not knowing what rootstocks the particular nurseries use.

Back to dwarfing, many years ago I read about a man in Chicago who had a yard full of miniature apple trees. I will search for that again.

Edit - I found it, which surprised me! He name is Gene Yale, and he had (he passed away a few weeks ago) 97 apple cultivars in his 2,400 square foot Chicago area yard.



FWIW, I had HC on m26 at my last house. It was hard to leave it and Karmijn behind. The HC was in the ground and did very well yet was easy to keep in bounds. It is a very spurry variety and a heavier apple.

On a side note, have you eaten a Crimson Crisp? I just had my first apple of my tree recently, picked slightly early. I found it to be a more flavorful version than HC but had to tell. It has the similar sweet tart with explosive crunch and juice- a great modern apple. I’m hoping it might be a tad easier to grow in terms of the bitter pit issues HC can get.

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How big did it get on M26?

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@Bear_with_me, I’m with you on ease of managing and harvesting smaller trees. All of mine are on bud9 and are topped between 7 and 8 feet. I have 100 varieties in a very small space with 3ft between trees and 7 feet between rows. All trees are trellised and tall spindle trained. I get some trees producing in two years by bending the limbs on newly planted gafted trees. When i get some time off work im going to cage in the entire orchard.


Well- I think Bud 9 is a good choice…it would be hard to go wrong with Bud 9. Having said that there is no perfect apple, no perfect apple tree, and of course no perfect rootstock. Because of availability I was forced to get trees on Bud 9, G11, G16 and G41. Which at the time was not what I desired. In hindsight I think it was a blessing in that my rootstocks are genetically diverse and not likely to be wiped out by one factor. As far as the Geneva stocks— huge numbers have been planted commercially at 1000 trees/acre and been in the ground for years especially for the orchards that were early adopters. When you hear of problems it’s easy to panic. But other rootstocks have problems too. I didn’t get any trees on m26 because of fireblight issues, leaning trees and some mention of graft incompatibility. Later I visited a local orchard and found almost all of his 300 trees were on m26 and it seemed to work for him. Of course he had a few leaning trees and Northern Spy had some bad fireblight issues (it’s susceptible) but in general his orchard did well. M111 is good rootstock but doesn’t work well with William’s Pride because of bitter pit issues. I guess my point is all rootstocks have problems and you need balance the benefits of the stock against the risks of using it. I wouldn’t discard the Geneva series out of hand but think a mix of rootstock might be a good choice. After all if you go all Bud 9 it may turn out you have a super vole infestation and you would be wishing you had bought some of those Geneva rootstocks :slight_smile: .



The Honeycrisp was easily maintained at 6’. The branches were fairly sturdy and didn’t need much support. Sonetimes I used a forked branch to hold an over producing limb. My last year there, I greedily let it over produce, knowing that the next owner might cut it down.


@thepodpiper , that is a beautiful garden! I will use your photos i thinking about my orchard version 2.0.

@mroot thanks for the info. i think most of mine will be on bud-9. Not sure yet about others but some might be M27 for very vigorous ones, and M26 or similar size Geneva for low vigor ones.

@quill, thanks for the info. I definitely want a Honeycrisp in my collection, with some vigor and productivity but still a reasonable size. That sounds about right for my situation.