Espalier Apple Trees Rework - 2016 Updates

Hi! Pardon me if you answered these questions before, but this thread is long and I am just so curious. Are they facing South? What varieties are they? Rootstock? Age? Thanks!!

Here’s the result after 2 years of rework on my espaliers…

Late winter, Feb 2017…

Early Spring, April 2017

And today pictures…

Plenty of green leaves…

With no flower bud in sight!

The only cluster of flower is from a grafted branch last year that I intent to grow some scion wood and/or arm replacement at the bottom rung of one of the tree that was majorly damaged by rabbits couple years ago!



These tree face south. The one to the left is Hudson’s Golden Gem and the right one is Red Fuji. I’ve read somewhere that these variety are not the best choice for espalier, but I’ve already got them planted a few years before I know more about apple! So the arrows were shot, and I better hold on tight at the end of the rope! :sob:

Them both are about 6 years old since I planted them as whip. Both were purchased from Peaceful Valley which were purchased from Wilson Nursery. And the root stocks are M-111.




I’m keeping the 2017 updates on this same thread as you’ve suggested. I don’t know how to edit the 2015 photos into this thread though. Maybe I’ll take some time to figure that out later. Thanks for the suggestions.


Those look beautiful! My trees are going to be well behind yours for a couple years. I have exactly two apple fruitlets that look promising this year!

Trees are looking great. But you must be tearing your hair out from the lack of flowers!! Argg!

got to hand it to you, your work is the best have seen posted on this forum(perhaps am prejudiced, as may have missed others). Only when the rungs look old, thick, and gnarly will an espalier appear established, and yours got them all :+1:



FIRST: Locate the folder in which your photos of 2015 are stored.

  1. Go to your original message. At the top of this thread.
  2. Hit the edit button.( the one that looks like a pencil)
  3. Place your cursor right after the last photo’s location
  4. Add text (ie. “this is how they looked in 2015 before reworking”)
  5. Right after the text click the “upload” button.
  6. Upload the 2015 photos just as you would any other and “save”

The 2015 photos will now appear right after the description text you entered.

You have many upright shoots and they are close together. An embarrassment of riches some would say. However, if they all developed fruitlets you would be thinning at 75%. Some of those will probably need to be pruned off ( at the base) at some time in the future.

Now, keep in mind that we need to strike a balance between growth that produces leaves needed for food/energy for the tree AND fruiting buds that don’t provide much energy to the tree. So, we can’t just pinch off all the new growth to push for fruiters.

I would start by favoring properly spaced shoots and selecting those that we hope to convert to fruit bearers, and pinching off the tips of their new growth (repeatedly if need be over the summer). Some of these got too leggy and look like Carrot-top. I am sure some have buds closer to the base that is now naked. Try to shorten some of those skinny ones by one-half. I am sure new thicker growth will develop from the bottom half.

We then let the other growth run wild to produce many leaves (food factories) . These will be eliminated by our summer pruning after they have contributed what we need from them.

Sorry for being so wordy.


BTW, fruit buds will form on two year old wood and older. You have that aged wood now.


Tom, those trees look very nice, but I wonder if that is part of your challenge. They’re just too darn healthy to get down to fruiting! In the first photos back in 2015, I see most of the piece of wood (for edging) below the fence, but in the current ones It is almost covered. I expect you’ve put wood chips down several times as they’ve broken down and I wonder if the richness of the soil you’ve built up is working against you, particularly with the M111 rootstock. Others might suggest a different approach, but I would say whatever you do this year don’t add any nitrogen.

As a completely unscientific example, I’ll share my own experience with trees I grafted in the spring of 2015 - all interstems, mostly M111/M27, but some less vigorous varieties on M111/Bud9. I made more trees than I needed and grew them in a nursery bed with fairly rich soil. Then last year I moved about 1/4 of them out of the nursery bed and into our native clay soil with no amendments. This year, the trees still in the better soil in the nursery bed have flowers on about 25% of the trees. But the ones relocated to the poorer clay soil all had flowers. Could be the soil or maybe the relocation had other effects I don’t realize that pushed them to developing flower buds, but they put on less growth last year than the ones still in the nursery bed which I chalked up to the soil.

I could be way off for your situation and others definitely have more experience, but from my limited experience I can see how rich soil might slow down fruiting.

Very good looking trees, but the M111 rootstock and probably the very good care promote more of vegetative growth. My 4 year leaf apple trees on M26 are about the same size but all are full of flowers, and they fruited for 2 years already. I pull their branches horizontally, so they do look a little like espaliered trees. May be the trees on M111 need to grow to certain height before they started to flower?

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They seem to be very healthy and beautiful! Congrats! I would love to taste Hudson and was thinking of starting an espalier on a south side… But in my situation, might not be the best idea (dark brick wall, cold winters, february sun… damage…). Thanks for sharing!

When I was doing research on root stock for espalier, I found some info from a person who tried M111 with no success in fruiting until he let it grow out of espalier. In his opinion M111 is too vigorous to be espaliered and successfully fruit. Unfortunately I do not remember where I read it to show you source link.


Most of my espaliers are on M111. See some of the attached photos I took this weekend. These are of Cox Orange, Jonagold, Calville Blanc D’Hiver, etc.

<img src="//growingfruit-images.s3-us-west-


I do not have any experience with M111, I am just a messenger)))


Wasn’t shooting the messenger :grinning:. Or the message.

Just throwing another bit of data into the mix.


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Your trees look amazing Tom. Sorry about the lack of fruit. I’m sure someone must have suggested this before, but aren’t Hudson’s and Fuji both only/primarily tip bearing? I was just wondering if all of that beautiful pruning isn’t allowing sufficient time for tips to form? I hope whatever it is, you are able to figure it out soon. I look at your pictures as models of how I’d like my espalier to look. Bob

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My Red Fuji is tip bearing.


If this is the case, I’ll need to graft them over. In fact, I did about 5-6 grafting (Gold Rush) this spring on the top rung of my Red Fuji and they seem to take.

I also need to outlive my espaliers to finish this project! :disappointed_relieved:

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Saw a note on the old GardenWeb that Scott had said his Hudson’s was ‘extremely’ tip bearing.

So maybe either graft over or trying putting the pruners away for a year!

glad to hear apple trees outlive people in your area. For some of us, if not many of us, it is the other way around. Where am at, cats could easily outlive apple trees, even those not physically compromised by constant pruning and training into espaliers