Mixing apple varieties in tall spindle system

I currently have 102 fruit trees, mostly apples, all being trained open center or central leader pruning styles. My trees are mostly half standards or dwarfs, spaced15’x15’

I am collecting apple varieties in my retired years.

I was studying the tall spindle system. It appeals to me as a space saver and quick production, but mostly the ease of maintenance as far as spraying, mowing, pruning and picking. Maybe its also easier to protect them from the deer.

I was a comercial producer of shade and ornamental trees for 42 years. I found I don’t know much about producing fruit trees. Mainly the pruning styles.

So I’m planning on purchasing 2 or more trees per variety.

My question is it practical to put multiple varieties in a tall spindle row 2 to 4 (mostly 2) per variety? My thoughts are it would be alright, for a hobbiest. I have no intentions of growing commercial. Just want the experience of different apples, a place for the grandkids to pick apples, and something that stimulates my interest.

I have room to continue with the standard layout but the small foot print of tall spindle sytem intrigued me.

Thanks for any advice.


Yes you can do it. I have a row of tall spindle apples and every cultivar/rootstock combination is different. My trees are 3-4 feet apart depending on tree vigor. I would take a look at this tree spacing calculator and use it to get a feel for how spacing varies depending on vigor and other variables.


For scion vigor of more obscure cultivars look at this list.

Newer Geneva rootstocks are not listed in the calculator but you can use this chart to convert the newer rootstocks to older rootstocks with similar vigor for example G890 has similar vigor to M7.



Sounds like you are doing great with the number of trees you have so far. It does make sense to me that you can put more varieties on the tall spindle trees. I have not thought about that before but it makes sense. How tall does the spindle trees get?
I am not sure if you have seen this information yet. You probably have. If so I apologize for referring this to you. It is a different thing working with spindle vs regular fruit tree sizes, or I would think.


Forget to say " Welcome to this site." Lots of nice and helpful people. Good information as well.

Yes, that sounds like a good idea. Based on the things I have read here and from others experience, I would consider two things for ease of maintenance later:

Try to get them (or graft them) all onto the same type of rootstock. That will make pruning and managing vigor between all the different varieties a lot simpler in the coming years. Sure the scions will all have different vigor as well, so some individual management of the trees will be needed, but it can become really complicated when you have many different rootstocks in combination with many different scions. (as I have)

The other thing is to plant all the trees in order of ripening. Even for a small orchard it doubles the work if from August until December you have to walk every day from one end to the other and back again to find all the trees with ripe fruit on them. It is much easier to have all your August ripening varieties next to each other (more or less) and then the September ripening ones, then the October one etc. It will save you so much time and effort in the future when picking.

Good luck, sounds like a great project!


I have 2 small rows of tall spindle, maybe 40 tress ? I agree, it is nice to have them in order of ripening, but what is becoming more of a concern is order of flowing.

The flowering for me is becoming a problem due to fireblight. I got the first spray on, but timing the second spray is tricky with everything blooming at different times. That’s mostly my laziness, you could pull it off if you were diligent though. Out of 60 trees I have 6 that are getting hit pretty hard right now. It seems to be a mix of heirloom and European cider varieties

The other thing that bugs me is when a super late variety is right next to a very early flowering variety. I want to spray the early variety , but don’t want to hit the tree that’s in full bloom.

My only other issue with the tall spindle is, the deer have gotten worse as my orchard has developed. I had planned on having permanent scaffolds down low, but they are getting hit pretty hard by the deer now.

I’d still plant them the same way though.

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Thanks for the info. I was thinking of planting by harvest dates and now I will do it forsure. My current trees are a mixed group due to losing some to walnut toxicity and deer rubs (7 a year were getting rubbed). It makes everything more difficult as far as spraying and managing.

It seems like TS will make things easier as far as managing. I really enjoy working with them as far as pruning and shaping. Spraying and cutting suckers not so much.