Apple Trees are a Delicious Investment

By The Old Farmer's Almanac
Sep 21, 2017
Apple trees are an excellent investment.

Apples are easy to grow, wonderful in flavor, and dwarf ones will fit in the smallest yard.

Doreen G. Howard


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Have you thought about growing your own apples, pears, and Asian pears? 

They’re easy, and super-dwarfing rootstock allows you to grow a tree in the smallest space.  I mention pears and Asian pears, because they’re similar in culture to apples and also store well for long periods.

I have seven apple, two Asian pear and one pear tree in a 4-by-30-foot strip.  My mini-orchard produces enough fruit to stow for eating fresh throughout the winter, some to dry and plenty to make into applesauce and pear jam.

The trick for a large bounty of luscious fruit in a small area is picking trees on the right rootstock.  All fruit trees are grafted on to dwarfing or nematode-resistant or extra hardy roots from another cultivar, developed for their specific qualities.

I'm picking Pixie Crunch apples last September in my tiny orchard.  Ten trees take up little space.

The grafting process can be complicated.  The desired variety or cultivar is attached to the rootstock (cambium, xylem and phloem layers are matched) and the union is sealed with wax and tape and then planted in bed or large container to grow.  I readily admit that I am all thumbs and cannot graft.  Luckily, there are plenty of mail order nurseries that specialize in fruit trees on various rootstocks.

Le Nain Vert is a gentically dwarf pear tree that is barely five feet tall and tidy in spread.  Fruit is firm and delicious!

After you pick your trees, they will arrive bare root, meaning the roots are not in dirt.  They'll be shipped to you at the right time to plant, when the ground has thawed and warmed a bit.  Soak the roots in a bucket of water overnight, at least, or up to three days, before planting.  Dig a large hole so that roots can be spread.  Position the tree so that the graft union (the bumpy spot on the trunk) is at least three inches above the soil line.  Otherwise, the rootstock will grow and over take the grafted cultivar.

Organic care is easy.  Look at my previous blog about how to do it.

This Wealthy apple tree, grafted on to M27 rootstock, is only four feet tall.  It fits easily in a flower bed.

The right dwarf rootstock

Here is a rundown of the best rootstocks to seek when purchasing trees.  There’s one for every climate, just as there are apple cultivars for everywhere.  Even in the hottest climate a tasty apple like Anna will grow on the right rootstock.


Bud 9:  8 feet; very cold hardy; use in USDA Climate Zones 3 to 5.

M9:  8 to 10 feet; tolerant of wet soils; Zones 5 to 8; protect roots with snow cover in colder areas.

M27:  6 to 8 feet; requires extra moisture so irrigate often; Zones 5 to 8.

MM106:  10 to 12 feet; excellent for hot climates; Zone 8 to 10.

Pears, including Asian Pears

OHXF33:  10 to 16 feet; easily kept smaller with summer pruning; cold-hardy; precocious, bearing fruit after a year or two in the ground; Zones 4 to 8.

OHXF51:  8 to 12 feet; the best rootstock for hot, humid climates; Zones 6 to 9.

Quince:  4 to 10 feet; significantly dwarfs pear trees.  Compatible only with Comic, Anjou and Seckel pears; best for hot, humid climates with clay soils; not cold-hardy; Zones 7 to 9.



About This Blog

Get inspired by Robin Sweetser's backyard gardening tips. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer's Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer's Market.

Reader Comments

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Friit trees in upstate SC

I love reading your pages. It also makes me sad. We have two each apple, pear, plum and peach trees. Last year was the first year they bore and the trees were loaded with luscious fruit. I guess it was luscious. We got not one, nada , zippo piece of fruit. The squirrels got every last piece and what they did not pull off the trees they took one bite out of and left it tantalizingly hanging there. We yried everything I reD about to try and save some but to no avail. Woukd you oerhaps have some sectet amazing remedy to share with this fruit starved lady? Please share if you do. Thank you from the bottom of my empty of fruit stomach!

At Pit's End

Hi, Lois: We can understand your frustration–which is shared by many, many thousands! The only secret amazing remedy we can suggest is to try many different solutions in many different combinations until you reach success. Usually it is not one single thing that ends up working. Not sure what you have tried, but first make sure that they can’t jump onto your trees from other trees or structures. After (of course) trapping, the “biggies” for deterrence are netting, physical barriers (making the trunk too slippery to climb, with aluminum or plastic flashing or tubing, or some sticky or gooey substance, or both), and chemical barriers (urine or blood meal around the base). There’s hanging bells or CDs from the branches or playing a radio or putting a few rubber snakes or plastic owls around. Probably the two most unheralded possible contributors to success are placing human hair clippings (from a salon or barber shop) around the base and providing an alternative food source such as sunflowers or peanuts at some distance from the trees, the latter sending the message to the squirrels that since it’s now become such a hassle to get to that fruit over there, we might as well just help ourselves to this easy food. Thanks for asking and good luck!

Asian pears

Where can I find ultra dwarf Asian pears trees so I can plant them in containers. Can I plant the dwarf ones in containers?

dwarf pear trees

Your best bet is to contact tree nurseries such as and inquire.

Hello, do you have any site

Hello, do you have any site recommendations on where to buy dwarf and or ultra dwarf? Many sites Ive looked at do not specify what root stock they have. Im looking for two dwarf pears and 2 dwarf apples for central ohio, zone 6. Thanks for any insight

I am trying to find a dwarf

I am trying to find a dwarf pear tree that is compatible with a dwarf luscious pear tree. Please let me know.

Dear Doreen, I have a mini

Dear Doreen, I have a mini orchard myself but mine are in pots. I wanted to ask about you asian pear, I'm having trouble with mine they are sprouting from below the graft line not above I keep removing the sprouts hoping to invigorated the graft. Any suggestions. Thanks Kris

Dear Doreen: I very much

Dear Doreen: I very much enjoy your blogs and have learned so much from you. I hope you can help me with a couple of problems. First, I have an Asian Pear tree that was supposed to be self-pollinating. It blooms beautifully, but I have yet to see fruit. It is at least 10 years old. Thinking it may need a pollinator, I purchased another 5 years ago, but they don't bloom at the same time, so once again, no fruit. Secondly, I have a very old Wisteria vine (20 yrs or so) that has yet to bloom. I've read everything I can find on Wisterias, and I have tried pruning extensively, not pruning at all, fertilizing (with Miracle Grow), not fertilizing, and cutting the roots back. I live in N Iowa- Zone 5a. Can you help me? Thank you in advance for your assistance. Mary B

Asian Pear

Hi! I just found this blog and was wondering you you had any success with your pear tree? We have had our trees for about 7 years with no fruit! Not even blooms!! I'm not sure what to do. I thought these were easy to grow. Thanks!

Indeed, apples are easy to

Indeed, apples are easy to grow in most areas. Apples are the first thing I ever grew successfully when I started gardening. It was years of learning but apples brought my wishful thinking to "fruition."


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