Espalier - horizontal multi-layer vs candelabra

I finally found a forth dimension in my yard to plant my new espaliered Black Oxford on G890. But unfortunately it is just 7’ wide, so I try to maximize the fruiting wood length. Candelabra looks a bit more roomy than horizontal, but what I don’t know is how well vertical parts of it will fruit. I know my existing horizontal on G890 works well. And another question, how do you make that 90 degree turn - use vertical shoot or just tie the thin tip up?



You could probably make the 90 by bending the shoot. But i think if you cut the end at your length with an upward facing bud, you would get a true 90.

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espalier’s and kandelabra’s take multiple years to make (usualy 1-2 years per horizontal)

they are really beatiful though.

The gauche-palmet
would also be an awesome option. the 3 U gaucher would fit in your 7 foot wide space.

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I could be wrong (and often am :grinning:) but my understanding is that horizontals encourage fruiting and restrict growth, but verticals encourage growth but not fruiting.

I’m training five trees as espaliers. One was a tree I bought at a nursery and had enough branches in the right spits for me to make two layers of horizontals, and a vertical for me to start the next layer. So far most of mine do seem to take about a year for each horizontal tier.

This is not espalier, but dwarf I have been tying down branches to horizontal. The second year of horizontal, the bloom very nicely.


  • yes, I know, I have horizontal espalier since 2016 - it is fully grown 4 layers now, 10’ wide.

That is my understanding as well, so I am not sure if I should go with Candelabra structure. From other point, my existing horizontal espalier produces very well on small branches of main vertical trunk. So may be vertical parts are not that fruitless. I may probably start as candelabra, and if I see that it doesn’t produce on vertical parts cut them off and train new growth horizontally.

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@galinas I think the linear branch length is about the same on that candelabra as a same-area 5-tier cordon.


Hmm… just checked my calculation - and you are correct. I draw different number of layers when I compared… Thanks!

I’m not counting that bottom tier since its already a cordon.

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I don’t think you’ll struggle to get the vertical parts of the candelabra to bear fruit. All the summer pruning that will be carried out in them should result in the production of plenty of fruit buds. If this wasn’t the case then all the various ‘U’ restricted forms would be rubbish.

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how much hight do you have to play with?
And how are your conditions? do apples grow with lots of vigour for you?

G890 seems like quite a vigerous rootstock.

While i think it is true that vertical branches will bear fruits just fine. You might run into balance issue’s. Where the extra growth on the vertical will make you have to prune quite a bit more. While not having to prune that much on the horizontal parts.

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I am not much restricted in height, thinking 6-7 ‘. The condition for apples are average. My existing espalier on the same rootstock behaves well, and it took each layer 2-3 years to fill horizontal 10’ space and it is about 7.5 ’ high, 4 layers. I am able to maintain it OK. I was thinking that just 7 foot width could be not enough for the tree to “mature” and it will continue to grow instead of producing… but since candelabra doesn’t give more of branches than horizontal, I guess my question is wrong - not what is better, but if it will work… I guess, I have to see. Because other option will be just to give the tree away.

i think it will work. the question however is if your willing to put in the extra pruning to make/keep it to work.

A form with verticals might be nice. Since due to apical dominance most growth will be at the top of the verticals, taking some of the vigour away from your fruiting framework. And pruning the tips of those verticals is much more practical than pruning loads of watersprouts from horizontals.

I would wonder though if it would not be easier long term to get another rootstock and graft your wanted variety over. Or maby graft some B9/M9/M27 on your existing tree as an interstem if you want to keep it’s rootstock.

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Just a word to the wise - in my limited experience, I have found Black Oxford to be a somewhat challenging tree to train in espalier form. Both of my two trees seem to want to have one dominant side, making it tricky to get balanced growth. Not saying it can’t be done, but it may take a bit of work.

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With my experience with B9 it is not suitable for espalier, at least not in my conditions. My two trees on B9 are tiny and do not grow much at all. I do not see how they can fill 7’ flat space. And for grafting, if anything - I will better just give the tree away than continue that struggle any longer. I am making espalier not for the prettiness - for the lack of space and bad thinking when I ordered rootstock and scion. I was planning to do 10’ long espalier in another place, but then figured out I can’t give up that garden bed.

What problems it brings in other than the look? I am not going to plant it till late fall, if I see it goes one side I can always plant it asymmetrical in that 7’ space and give dominant side 7 foot to grow and cut other side off. Can you tell what side is dominant - south, east, or may be some other conditions that make one side more dominant?

i was talking about B9 or M9 or M27 as an interstem on your existing G890 rootstock. It’s a way to reduce vigor.

your talking about grafting struggle? did you have problems grafting?

btw does anyone know if black oxford is low or high vigour? i don’t know the variety

I am talking about struggle to fit it in at least somewhere. :laughing:. I do not know what intersteam is - I am not doing much grafting. But to do any graft I need to wait till next year. Right now the future tree is potted bench graft and this is how I am going to keep it till late fall. If I do not plant it in the ground I have no space to overwinter it. I I plant it in the ground with idea to graft next year and the graft fails - I will be going trough all the trouble eliminating my firewood stack (future espalier spot) just for nothing… It makes me thinking - just give it away and forget about it. :sweat_smile:

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I’m training my trees in a Belgian fence, so a very simple Y. After being headed back at a little under two feet, both of my Black Oxfords developed one very dominant scaffold branch. The trees are growing in the same row, with the same soil and light conditions, and the two dominant scaffolds are growing in different directions. So, my experience has been that if you head back Black Oxford in that way, it tends to produce unbalanced growth. Or, to put that a different way, it seems to really “want” to develop a single leader. If I had been more skilled and knowledgeable early on, I might have been able to balance it out a little better, but it would have taken more attention than (for example) Kidd’s Orange Red, which seems to be much more cooperative when it comes to producing balanced scaffolds.

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I think that could be a solution for my problem. I am building Belgian espalier too in other location and I was going to put 5 Ginger gold trees on 8 feet. But I can spread it to 10 feet(that other location allows it) and plant that poor homeless Black Oxford as an end tree on the north side. I do not have to head it - it is just grafted, so I can train it as it grows using ties and small cuts even before it placed in the ground and I can place it in the ground its “preferred” side if it shows one. I am really glad you told me about its specifics - it pushed my mind to the right direction :grinning:.