Guide to fruit tree rootstocks

So you want to add fruit to your garden (who wouldn’t)? Growing fruit trees is relatively easy but five minutes planning before you order will pay dividends in the long run. Today’s blog is a Guide to fruit tree rootstocks.

The first thing you need to decide is how tall you want your fruit tree to be ultimately. This will determine what rootstock you require. All our fruit trees are produced by a process known as chip budding or grafting. This fundamentally allows us to produce trees that on their own root system may grow too big for today’s gardens. It also allows us to invigorate varieties that have weak growth on their own roots and it allows us to produce fruit trees that don’t come true from seed.

At St Bridget Nurseries we generally offer a semi vigorous rootstock and a dwarf rootstock for each fruit type.


Apple rootstocks have very uninspiring names and sound more like motorways!

MM106 is our semi-vigorous option resisting woolly aphid & allowing the tree to grow to around 4-5 metres (12-15ft) in height.

M27 is our swarming option that will produce an apple tree about 2 metres (5-6 ft) in height. These would be possible to grow in large deep pots but staking is essential.


We found the dwarfing rootstock unreliable and so currently we only offer a semi-vigorous option for pears and that is called Quince A. This will produce a tree approximately 4-6 metres (12-18ft) in height.


The semi-vigorous rootstock is called ‘Colt’ and will ultimately grow to 5-6.5 metres in height (15-20ft).

The dwarfing rootstock is called ‘Gisela’ and ideal for patio pots as it will only grow to 2.5-3 metres (8-9 ft).


St Julien A is the semi-vigorous option we use and will grow to 4-5 metres (12-15ft) in height.

Pixy is the most dwarfing rootstock and will keep a tree to about 2.5-3.5 metres (8-10ft). Trees will require permanent staking.

If you are buying your fruit tree from a reputable nursery such as ourselves, the name of the rootstock should always be given along with the variety. Always check the label to ensure your tree won’t be too big for your garden.

On our next blog we will discuss fruit tree shapes.