Multi-grafted tree purchase failure

So I ordered a set of 5 in 1 fruit trees from Direct Gardening. They arrived, and I got what looks like 1 year whips with what I’m guessing is grafted buds and not branches. I have no confidence in having gotten actual grafted plants, much less that the (theoretically grafted) buds will survive and grow out, so they’re going in pots.

This opens up 3 spots in my yard. I’d still like multi-grafted peach, plum, pear trees, but I’m looking for either nursery or variety recommendations. I was thinking some Dave Wilson trees but finding somebody that had them in stock and does mail order to me tends to be challenging.

I live in Richmond VA, zone 7b. My soil is heavy on clay.

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In my environment multi-grafted trees are a poor choice because over time one of the fruit woods becomes dominant and other portions of the tree wither.


For me, Direct Gardening =Hopefully,the plants I bought will survive. Brady

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I would think you can control this with pruning. Even if it does happen, I will at least have had the chance to try several cultivars even if one type dominates the others over time.

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Would you consider ordering a fruit tree from a reliable nusery? You can chhose a variety you like and a rootstock suitable for your soil.

Then, learn to graft, which is easy for most fruit ( peach may be the most challenging for many). This way, you will have only the varieties you want on a good tree.

You can control size by pruning. I personally think grafting is easiler than pruning (correctly) but that’ s just me.

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I had an experience with multigrafted trees bought from a reputable nursery. I can say that they have all these problems said above. They often have poor branch placement and the lower grafted varieties are way weaker then the top ones. If you try to balance it you have to constantly prune the top varieties and the much of you future harvest. It is easier to buy a single tree and then to graft on it when the branching structure is established.



One of my first fruit trees was a 3 in 1 apple on an unknown rootstock. I did not know anything about pruning. After the first year, Golden Delicious took over and dwarfed Red Free and another one ( can’t recall the name now). The tree was lopesided. Long story short, it got flattened by freak snow in Oct. it was gone.

I do not want to buy a multi grafted tree again esp. most of those trees do not have all the varieties I want. Grafting is a lot of fun.

Absolutely you can, yes. I’m a little lost by the responses? Don’t buy a multi-graft tree, make one, it’s the same thing guys, you’re going to have the pruning challenge whether you put the grafts on or somebody else did. I would think grafting unto established scaffolds is more difficult because structure is there, and somehow you have to reform it with the new graft. Easy if the scaffold is small, but I would worry about cutting my graft off or even how exactly to grow it out.
Some things you can do. Study the cultivars, ask about them, write the nurseries and find out which is the most aggressive grower (face this graft north) which is the least aggressive grower (face south). I got that info for my tree[quote=“mamuang, post:5, topic:9515”]
I personally think grafting is easiler than pruning (correctly) but that’ s just me.

Are not you going to have to prune that graft eventually too? Not sure how this is in anyway easier? Seems harder to me. I would think you’re eventually going to face the same problems. I can say it’s cheaper to do this, beyond that seems harder to me. If I grafted in the wrong place I may have problems such as the new graft competing against other cultivars, or the original cultivar, just as you would on a mult-grafted tree.
Seems to be a distinction without a difference?
Here is my 4 in one pluot tree. FK, FS, FQ, and DD it is going on 5th leaf.

FS is the fastest grower of these four and faces north. It’s the branch on right side, coming toward photo. This worked well, it is not the biggest branch even though it’s the most aggressive grower. Center on the other side of the tree is FK. It is still rather small, faces south. Even though small, no danger of losing it.

Raintree sells them, Bay Laurel, and other nurseries.

OK, now there’s a good answer.

In the photo you can see a stub cut, this was left this way to add further grafts. It faces in a possible direction i can go. I’m finding maintaining this tree is not hard in anyway.Well you have to be aware of what you are cutting off, at this point the cultivars are well established. Branching is not ideal. It was pruned very hard this year. Even though not ideal, it’s working fine.
The variety on the left is DD, and it’s the biggest branch. The secondary scaffold at about 11 O’Clock is going to be cut back for grafting too. It could be removed to balance also.



“OK, now there’s a good answer” appears as if you judged/graded my responses as “good” or not.

No complaints with the 4-1 I bought from Raintree

I’ve purchased 3 multigraft trees all from Raintree. They’ve generally been a disappointment. My 4x1 asian pear died after its first year in the ground. My 4x1 sweet cherry was horribly configured and out of balance. I had to hack off the heavy variety to balance the tree out. It’s doing fine now after cleft grafting a new variety on it to balance the tree. My 3x1 pluot has been okay although it was not that well balanced and the two thick scaffolds that where growing far too upright. It’s the tree I experimented with to perform the cuts Alan recommended to bend large scaffold. It’s worked out well and the tree is opened up and full of blooms. But overall I prefer grafting them myself. Last year I purchased a wonderfully shaped Methley plum locally and was able to graft about 10 varieties of plum and apricot to it. It’s my favorite tree I have.

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I agree with Mamuang, Richard and Dave. Glad Lois and Drew have had good success with their multi-grafted trees, though, I commend you, they’re not super easy to manage. I have not had success, and possibly for the reason Richard has stated, but also because I agree with Mamuang - for me grafting is an easier technique for me to master than really good pruning, and you must have excellent pruning techniques to manage a multi-graft tree (especially noted after seeing Richard’s perfectly pruned trees, lol!). And, some folks ARE very, very good at pruning, so this becomes sort of a welcome challenge for them. Plus, if I would venture a multi-graft tree, I also would want to select the exact cultivars I want, and I would want to shape the tree correctly with good graft placements. They’re more work for sure, because one grafted cultivar will usually attempt to become the dominant cultivar, so you really must take great care to keep the tree balanced, have some idea which cultivar is the likely dominant cultivar and place it on the north side of the tree, etc. I work full time, and for me, that’s a lot of extra work. I’m fortunate that I live in a climate where I can plant more than one tree in a hole (BYOC ala Dave Wilson Nursery). Good for Drew and Lois, but for some of us, pre-purchased multi-graft trees are not the best choice. And Drew, I’m sure you did not mean to impugn Mamuang. All her points were valid, even if they don’t apply to you and your particular abilities or preferences :slight_smile: We all have our fortes - multi-grafted tree management is not mine, and for me, not worth the investment. I prefer to spend time getting good at other things :slight_smile: For fun, here are a couple of cool links to folks who have multi-grafting down to a science:

BTW Drew, I think your small orchard is beautiful (kinda responding to another thread)
Looks a little like my orchard.

If I had a complaint about my 4-1, it would be that I would have preferred to select my own varieties - which at the time I didn’t really know about

But I am a particularly poor grafter and would rather someone else did it


Unless you are a really advanced fruit grower, multigrafted trees can be very difficult to deal with. Most nurseries that do these grafts typically put together fruit varieties that they think will sell well with little or no thought as to how the different varieties fit together or grow together. My guess, and it’s just a guess based on complaints I’ve heard through the years, is that the vast majority of these grafts die.

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I sure get that Lois. Grafting is not the easiest technique to learn, but for some strange reason, I’m pretty good at it. Sure better than I am at good pruning. Which I find ironically funny, because I good at pruning my roses. You’d think it would be the same, lol!! But, very glad your multi-grafted tree is doing well for you!

Patty S.

Not meant that way, sorry about that. I thought it was a good answer to not get a multi-grafted tree. Pruning was not IMHO, that is what I meant. As both a homemade and pre-existing grafted tree are going to be difficult to prune. Again a distinction without a difference. In your other statement, your specified the difference, and it makes a lot of sense for reasons stated.Graft cultivars your want. Better able to position (maybe?) And grafting is fun. I couldn’t agree more. [quote=“hoosierquilt, post:12, topic:9515”]
for me grafting is an easier technique for me to master than really good pruning,

OK, It must be me, could someone explain to me the difference between pruning a multi-grafted tree, and pruning a multi-grafted tree, as whether you do it yourself or buy it, are they not the same thing? What am I missing? How is pruning easier on homemade multi-grafts? I would think it actually would be harder, say 7 years after you grafted. How is it easier? I’m lost?[quote=“speedster1, post:11, topic:9515”]
Last year I purchased a wonderfully shaped Methley plum locally and was able to graft about 10 varieties of plum and apricot to it. It’s my favorite tree I have.

OK, sounds like it’s going to be a nightmare to prune in 5 years. Not that you should not have done it. I’m thinking about doing it too.

I graft single cultivar trees, Drew. Not interested in managing a multi-grafted tree, personally. But, for some, it’s fun and easy. If so, we’re saying, take a turn at grafting your own, so you get exactly what you want, placed at perfectly as possible.

I 100% agree, and never disagreed with that. What i asked is about pruning as the reason stated by three people not to buy one, and suggested making one, is not the pruning going to be just as hard? I swear I keep failing to make myself clear.

All I’'m saying is pruning is going to be tough on any multi-grafted tree, yet you’re all implying it will not be? Just asking to explain it, as you all lost me how this pruning is going to be easier? Also for me pruning is much easier than grafting. Grafting in my environment is very difficult. Our window of opportunity is very narrow.

Then why comment on multigrafts? I must be from Mars, these responses make no sense??? Sorry no offense, it must be me.

Drew, you appear to be the only one confused in this thread. Your original reply to Mamuang implied it would be as easy to prune a multi-graft tree as a single graft tree as you’ve got to prune both, anyway at some time. [quote=“Drew51, post:8, topic:9515”]
Are not you going to have to prune that graft eventually too? Not sure how this is in anyway easier?

I and others contend pruning a single graft cultivar tree is much easier.

I think we’ve explained that point pretty well at this point. And, have well explained why multi-graft trees are more difficult to maintain and thus have a higher failure rate (per the OP’s original point - pre-purchased multi-graft trees are not always grafted well for success. So, two options were posited: Purchase single graft trees, or, if you’re up to the pruning maintenance, graft your own.)

So, we’ll now put this to bed, as I think the point has been well clarified. If you’re still confused, Drew, we can talk off the list.

Patty S.