Just looking for another quick bit of advice. I grafted various apple and pear trees in the spring of this year (and the year previously). I grafted the scion about 1ft up the rootstock. My question is could i plant the root say with only 6 inches of that foot about the soil level? It means i would be planting some of the “trunk” of the rootstock below ground level…would this be ok? It seems like they woukd want to send out roots but judt wondering if it may rot ot cause disease issues?
Just to clarify, the graft union would be well above the soil. 6 inches above in my simplistic wee example.
Best wishes to you all as always,
I think your tree is going to hate you if you don’t leave some roots near the surface.
Agree with Nil. I would leave roots close to ground. In fact, experts recommend exposing root flares. You can google it. There are many discussions.
Depends on the rootstock and what a person is trying to do. Apples on standard rootstock like antonovka can be planted with the union below soil level if desired…so planting deep isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If the apple is on something like mm111, it will readily shoot out new roots even above the soil level…so a little deep again is not a big deal for that.
Thank you al. I appreciate the advice. The apples are on mm106. When i received some of the rootstocks they had their roots at the base of the stock and then they had about 4 inches of “root trunk” for lack of a better term, and then more roots coming from around that level. So with some of them part of the root was planted below the ground level. But yes, sounds as though it is better to keep them at the same level!
Just allow for “well enough” to include some more room for mulching. I didn’t do that. I was told 4" to 6", but I needed 8" to 10".
I could be wrong, but I thought for most trees, the idea was to keep the soil level at the same spot it was originally potted at. Otherwise you risk rotting.
Not necessarily on apples. An apple on standard rootstock can be planted with the graft union below the soil level if you want the variety on top to root (assuming a rootstock resistant to collar rot). It just depends on if you want the vigor of the top to take over. That may not be what you want if you have a variety on a dwarfing rootstock or some rootstock with some desired characteristic. A variety like Centennial is already dwarfing and might be grafted to a more vigorous rootstock, and then planted with the union above the soil level, not so much because of a concern about rot, but because you don’t want a very dwarfed tree.
It’s a shame that there isn’t ever a recipe in horticulture that covers all the variables. Traditional clonal rootstocks are propagated by stooling, which means soil is purposely piled up on tissue that developed in open air. They root out quickly and easily from such wood.
A bare root whip looses it’s fine roots when it is dug up anyway and even the small roots with suberin that don’t dry out easily aren’t really very important to the establishment of the tree. Most of the vigorous root growth comes directly from the root crown (just below trunk) in very young apple trees. Huge commercial orchards sometimes remove almost all the roots so they can easily mechanically plant the carrots they create- they wouldn’t do this if they lost substantial time in gaining productivity.
Now, more mature trees with thick roots are a different story- with them you generally don’t want to plant them any deeper than they were when dug up and you don’t want to loosen up the soil beneath them in a way that might make them sink below that point.
Of course, some apple varieties root out easily so you may lose the dwarfing affect if you plant a whip below the graft union. General instruction for nursery grown one-year trees not on dwarfing rootstock is to plant with soil right at the graft union to decrease the chance of breakage. That would be a bit below the level of soil when they were dug up so it contradicts the general warning about planting trees too deep. .
When i have been mulching other trees i normally always leave a small circle clear around the base. Do you normally just pile it right up against the trunk of the root?
No, but repeated application of mulch does build up to the point that you have a fairly deep well around the trunk. I don’t like to think about ice collecting there, so I try to keep the soil more level. I’ve switched to plastic mulch that I roll up and dispose of every fall.
Thanks! Learn something every day!
Thank you alan. Thag is what i am meaning. I don’t intend to plant the graft union below the soik only to bury some of the rootstock. This was my first attempts at grafting and i left the rootstocks fairly long, about 1ft, expecting failures and therefore allowing myself enough root to graft again the following year.
Anywah, when i received the roostocks they were in a bag and a fair few of them had a large bunch of roots at the back of the stock but some of them also had substantial roots coming from around 8 inches above the basal bunch.
It sounds like from your last paragraph that i would be able to bury some of the rootstock but just ensure that my union is above ground?
Thanks to everyone
That’s what i meant. However on the question of rootstock for grafts, I’ve no experience. Any setback of roots when putting on a graft could conceivably slow the growth of the graft or even cause it to fail. However, I’ve never purchased rootstocks and grafted them so I’m not the person to answer your question well.
What I do know is that grafts grow much more vigorously on well established root systems, just as a tree grows much more vigorously a year after it’s transplanted than the first year (if negative factors haven’t stunted it).
Commercial fruit tree nurseries usually graft on trees that haven’t been disturbed by transplanting.