Saturday, January 7, 2012

My First Multi Graft Fruit Tree

I have been so busy gardening these past few weeks that I feel all sore and tired.  We finally had our old ash tree stump ground and I ended up with an enormous pile of chips on the patio and an even bigger hole in my lawn. We couldn't really leave the hole unfilled, and covering it with sod seemed too boring, so we decided to plant another tree. We thought a fruit tree would be nice next to a patio, providing, besides fruit, a bit of shade and a nice shape to look at without growing too large or out of scale with the rest of the garden. We settled on a pluot.

Here it is fresh from the nursery and festooned with tags like a Christmas tree
Pluots are a cross between plums and apricots, and some varieties, in particular Flavor King and Flavor Supreme, are among the best fruit I have ever eaten.

Some of my last year's pluots


The fruit comes off the tree absolutely perfect every time, no worms, bugs or rot. Even squirrels don't take bites out of them. All I do is spray them once a year with dormant spray.

We emptied chips out of the hole and filled it with native soil and a good planting mix


Unfortunately, undamaged, beautiful and tasty fruit grows on trees that are really tricky to take care of. They are either too weak even on rootstock (reminds me of some roses), or too vigorous gaining size quickly at the expense of flowering and setting fruit. They crack, they need to be hard-pruned every year, they are finicky about pollination. I chose a 4-in-1 tree with these issues in mind.

All done, the tree in the ground and four roses at the base. We did leave some room to come up to the tree :)


 Generally I try to avoid multi graft fruit trees because I can see how some grafts would be stronger than others and dominate the tree creating lots of pruning issues in future.

The chips were spread as mulch around the roses and perennials

However, in the case of pluots, a multi graft had a few definite advantages. First, I hope that having four varieties within inches of each other would make pollination a bit more of a certainty, so I would finally get to eat some of the wonderful Flavor Supreme which our single variety tree refuses to bear for me. Another is that I hope that the trunk will be less prone to cracking. I placed the strongest graft facing north, and the weakest facing south (it seems they were grafted with this specific placement in mind). We will see how it turns out, but my hopes are high.

And I hope the roses like the mulch

23 comments:

  1. Masha: How wonderful! Never heard of that fruit before! You are amazing! How nice that you can do so much gardening this time of year. I'll look forward to hearing more about your tree.

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  2. What a great solution to plant a fruit tree into the hole where the old ash tree had been! The way you describe the pluots I just want to have a bite :-). I hope the new fruit tree turns out the way you envision it. Good luck with it! Of course I like that you planted roses around it :-)! May I ask which varieties you have chosen? The last photo of your garden is sooo... beautiful. I am sure the roses and other plants will like the wood chip mulch and thank you with even more blooms this year!
    Christina

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  3. Very interesting Masha, I've never heard of this fruit. I look forward to seeing how it grows.

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  4. I bet your roses will love the mulch, and how interesting about your grafted fruit tree. May you be blessed with lots of delicious fruit.

    FlowerLady

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  5. I never heard of a Pluot. It will be interesting to see what develops, but I bet the blossoms will be beautiful. Bees love plum and peach too.

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  6. Hi Masha - Interesting post as I often wonder about grafting. Just wondering - What is the difference between a strong and weak graft? How can you tell?

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  7. Thank you!

    B-a-g, some varieties of fruit trees (as well as roses incidentally) are always genetically more vigorous than others. You can tell by observing different varieties grown in a field or a garden, or by doing research on the internet :). In my case, I grow Flavor Supreme pluot, and it is the most vigorous of all my fruit trees (basically, more of a shade than a fruit tree unfortunately). I have trouble controlling its vigor. I have not grown any of the other varieties on my multi-graft pluot, but by reading through the Internet articles I came across many complaints of Flavor King being a very weak tree. These two varieties were grafted on the opposite sides of the tree, so it made me think that my conclusions about the relative vigor of these two varieties were correct. It is a known problem with multi-graft trees (and indeed with multi-graft standard roses) that one or two varieties grows stronger than others, and the obvious solution is to orient the plant so that the strongest graft faces north, while the weakest graft faces south, giving it the most advantageous spot. I hope what I said makes sense :)

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  8. I love pluots. They're hard to find at the store even when apricots and plums are in season. Good luck with your new tree!

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  9. How exciting! I've never heard of a pluot, but I'll start looking for them at the stores. I hope your new tree turns out just as you hope. How nice that you got so much mulch from the old tree!

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  10. I've never eaten a pluot but since I love plums and apricots, I"m going to give one a try! I'd love to have a fruit tree. My son once bit into an apple to find its seeds had sprouted. We planted them in a pot and they grew! They ended up as apple trees in the backyard but the owners after us cut them down. It was fun while it lasted. :o)

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  11. What a great story! I don't think that's ever happened to me, maybe I need to be more observant.

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  12. I hadn't heard of pluots before, but they look very intriguing. What a beautiful shot of your garden. Absolutely gorgeous!

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  13. I to have not heard of this .

    What is the taste like?

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  14. Życzę powodzenia w uprawie drzew, których owoców nie znam :-). Piękne ostatnie zdjęcie. Pozdrawiam.

    I wish you success in the cultivation of trees, whose fruit I do not know :-). Beautiful last picture. Yours.

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  15. Hello Masha, pluots, Quite a fascinating combination of fruit, I also have never heard of this one. Plums grow well in Scotland but not warm enough for apricots to ripen so I guess I will have to look out for pluots turning up at the supermarket.

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  16. Smukke billeder fra din have.
    Her er for våd og for blæsende til at lave havearbejde nu.
    Tak for kigget.

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  17. Unfortunately the weather in our area will not support pluots, or any other fruit tree for that matter. I am looking forward to watching the progress of your new pluot surrounded by the beauty of your roses.

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  18. I added a grafted peach tree last year, and it did suffer a bit of damage from a tropical storm. It seems as if it is doing well, now. I hope to add some more fruit trees...this gives me ideas.

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  19. Hello Masha, The pluot sounds very interesting and although plums grow in Scotland it is too cold for apricots. I will look out for these fruits in the supermarket. Hope you are well and have a good 2012. alistair

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  20. I love pluots. I find them at our farmers market. I'm sure your tree will love it's new home and the roses will love the mulch. Have a wonderful weekend. We are expecting some much needed rain.

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  21. Thank you!

    Alistair, I think the person who came up with these "exotic fruit crosses" initially sold them in Europe, specifically in France, where they preferred white fleshed peaches and nectarines. I also have a nectaplum which seems a little more resistant to peach leaf curl than regular nectarines and peaches.

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  22. Scotkat, they taste like sweet plums, juicy but without the thick tart skin that many plums have. My kids who are very picky eaters fight over Splash pluots so that my husband and I don't even get to eat any :).

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