Frankentree Questions

I found an older (Feb 2021) post with a lot of very good info - “Multi-variety or ‘frankentree’ planning.” - @franc1969 @oscar @marknmt @hambone - all contributed.

I had one question that I have not found the answer for . . .
If you have different varieties growing on a tree - does the rootstock influence when the different varieties ripen? . . . even tho they ‘naturally’ ripen at different times? Will they bloom ‘true to variety’ ie. early / mid season / late??? or will the rootstock have them blooming all more ‘together’? And same for ripening?

I am a newbie to all of this - and did a crummy job of planning ‘what variety to graft onto what’. I didn’t consider this my first time out . . . (among a few other important things!). Now I wonder if I should have kept all the early bloomers on one tree . . . and lates on another, etc.

I have noticed that some varieties seem to bloom a little later, but I haven’t tracked it and couldn’t tell you which one. As for ripening, they seem to follow script pretty well most years, i.e., my State Fair will always ripen first, my Cameos probably last, or at least late.

What fruit we talking about? I think it depends on the way you structured your frakentree. Example, imagine someone purchased a Liberty apple (late apple) on M26. They top work this to be their frakentree with Gala and Summer Rambo on top, early apples. This will behave different than an M26 that is grown out to 2-3 feet and then top worked to be Gala, Summer Rambo, Liberty. Or even a Summer Rambo on M26, then topworked to Gala and Liberty.

M26----> Liberty -----> other varieties
M26----->Summer Rambo —> other varieties
M26 ----> other scion

I think the general recommendation has been it’s better for early onto late is better than late onto early (if you’re looking for a more “normal schedule.” Someone can correct me if I am wrong, it’s been a while since I remember doing this.)

I want to determine what rootstock was used on a tree already purchased, is there any guidance for how to go about it? Sort of an algorithm based on fruit, height of tree, branches, resistance.

I know due diligence before purchasing or soon after is always best, but some are much older and I would like to make a best guess. Some not sure of where they were purchased so long ago.

Thanks for any ideas.

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It’s just probably easier to ask the nursery. Starks for example doesn’t list rootstock, but if you email and ask, they will respond with a definitive answer or a possible list of candidates.

What are we talking about here? Apples? Pears? Where did you buy from?

Apples, pears, peaches. Variety of purchase places including big box stores for older ones. For example, would Edible Landscaping use the same rootstock for Korean Giant over time or would it vary. Tree grows to 15-20 feet unpruned.

Dave at Century Farms says his are MM111 consistently so that is a bunch of mine.

Unless its apples, big box stores almost always use full size rootstock and define “dwarf” by pruning style. The only exception might be when Dave Wilson trees are in big box stores, but then you have a tag so you should know.

You can ask EL. I think EL uses OHxF series exclusively for pyrus, but you can email and ask. Any of the places like EL, Englands, will have records of what you bought if you didn’t keep them yourself and should be able to tell you what they are on.

So if it says semi-dwarf, it might not be? Is that why I am fighting to maintain height by hard pruning all the time?

That just seems deceitful.

That one possibility. It also could be due to excessively fertile soil, or cultivar… But yes, that could be a reason.

I don’t know if it’s deceitful, but it is sure misleading, regardless of whether it’s malicious or unintentional. I think that’s probably why so many people are willing to pay a premium to know the exact providence of their trees. Otherwise, we all would probably buy all of our trees and plants from big box stores.

Thanks @JustPeachy. I appreciate all your thoughts on this.

Note to self. No trees purchased without knowing the rootstock, not just what’s stated on the tag, from here on out.

To be perfectly fair to places that don’t explicitly state rootstock, they will happily share that information. However, you must ask; you need to do the homework yourself.

For example, most people assume Stark won’t tell you, so they never bother to order from them for things where rootstock may be vital. This is not true. Starks will tell you which rootstock or give you like a list of two or three possibilities it could be if they use multiple rootstocks. The thing is you need to ask. I always get an definitive answer when I ask. It may take a bit of time to get a response, but I always get a response with clear answer.

The same goes for big box stores. These stores still sell with a label which contains the information of the nursery they contracted with. If you contact the nursery, they will give you an definitive answer, but you need to ask; put the footwork in yourself.


No biggie…a rootstock may induce all the varieties grafted to it to be a day or two early, or late…
but not anything really drastic.

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Added note: My better half just told me we had one of these

I took it out, extended it fully, and took height off of my tallest trees that I wanted to get in some last minute summer pruning. Its a life changer. Honestly. Anything that keeps me off a really tall ladder gets two enthusiastic thumbs up. :+1: :+1:


Sorry for the late response. Got really busy and didn’t log onto the forum for a while…

As far as i know, Yes
Rootstocks can influence ripening times of fruits grafted on them. Usually only by a few (~2) days though.
So likely not enough to reliably notice without a commercial scale sample set.

For a multi varietal tree, the different varieties will ripen according to their “natural ripening times” So early varieties will ripen early, and late will ripen late.
There might be a slight change. But not enough for me to have noticed. And the people i spoke to/saw tree’s with multiple varieties of also didn’t notice.
Even if you notice a few days difference, that could also have been weather or fruit load related. Generally fruit load and weather are much stronger influences on ripening times than rootstock/interstem.

As far as i know/noticed they bloom just like they would on separate tree’s. Although again if it changed maybe 2 day’s it would be hard to measure without a really large sample set.

For a multi varietal tree I’d pay attention to.
-variety for framework you graft on (preferably disease resistant, if you loose a framework branch you loose all attached varieties)
-vigor of varieties grafted onto the tree. (graft vigorous varieties onto lower more horizontal branches. And graft lower vigor higher up, or onto smaller crotch angle/thicker branches)
-optional. graft in order of ascending ripening times. To make it less of a puzzle where on the tree the ripe fruits are.


Thank you, Oscar! Especially for the placement of grafts according to vigor - and disease resistance. That is very helpful.

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Years ago, Ed Laivo, who was head propagator at DWN at the time, wrote what I thought was a quite funny, but spot-on, essay on rootstocks and pruning, titled something like ‘Dwarf tree? But it’s so BIG!’… touching on peoples’ conceptions/misconceptions, etc.
If you look at labels and catalog descriptions - semi-dwarf apples are often listed as reaching 12-18 ft… that’s as tall as a 2-story house. Standard tree… 30 ft… that’s the size of an apartment complex…please purchase additional property.
Trees don’t magically stop growing once they reach a certain height. Ultimately, YOU are in control of how big/tall they get. PRUNE, Prune, prune!


:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


Also, when creating Frankentrees, try to keep blossoming times together on the same tree to be able to use insecticides without harming bees. That didn’t occur to me when starting out.


Thanks. Yes . . . I am trying to plan, as best I can, for this. Last year my Pink Lady flowered continuously - for what seemed like months! I’ve never seen that before. ? But it did create some havoc!