If you are hoping to become a budding fruit tree grower of the apple variety, you’ve probably heard about rootstocks by now. While the idea of planting a seed right from an apple may seem dreamy and appealing, in actuality, it’s not quite that simple! Growing a fruit tree of any kind from seed can take upward of eight years before it will start producing fruit. Furthermore, it’s just generally not how apple trees are typically grown.
The Ultimate Guide to Apple Rootstock
Apple trees are grafted (or fused) onto a rootstock that helps determine the size and strength of your tree once it has reached maturity. Grafting is a practice that has occurred for thousands of years. More recently, immense amounts of research have resulted in a list of the apple rootstocks believed to provide the best results. The online world is full of lots of complicated information, which is why we put together this guide to help you navigate your way to a better understanding of apple rootstocks.
So What Is a Rootstock, Anyway?
In simple terms, “rootstock” refers to the base of a tree, including the roots and trunk, that a scion (or the flowering or fruiting part of the tree that you see above ground) is grafted to. For the grafting process to be successful, the rootstock and scion need to be fairly close relatives. Rootstock varieties can come from a few different places: naturally growing trees, plant mutations, or genetically bred. When a “successful” rootstock is identified, it is cloned so that it can be used over and over again! In addition to determining your tree’s size and strength, apple rootstocks are also selected based on attributes like their level of disease resistance, cold hardiness, and the type of conditions they can thrive in.
What Is The Best Rootstock for Apple Trees?
When it comes to determining what the best rootstock is, there are a lot of factors to consider! What is ideal for one grower may be different for another. There are so many different rootstock variations that have been scientifically studied, bred, and established over decades. But, for the sake of simplicity in our guide, we are going to focus on some of our favorites that you can pick up at Carolina Seasons.
B9: This is what one would consider a “dwarfing” rootstock. As we mentioned earlier, rootstock variations determine the size and strength of an apple tree, and a B9 rootstock will limit the size of the tree to about 10 feet once it reaches maturity. While they are resistant to root and collar rots, they prefer a well-draining planting site and require permanent staking. The B9 rootstock produces a tree that is resistant to fire blight. B9 is also called Bud 9 which is short for Budagovsky 9.
M111: This is a vigorous semi-dwarfing rootstock that produces a tree that grows to about 85% of a standard-sized apple tree. They are considered one of the more adaptable of all rootstocks; they are quite winter hardy, have a fairly shallow-spreading root system, and are relatively drought tolerant. They are also resistant to woolly apple aphid, collar rot, root rot, and fire blight. Trees grown from an M111 rootstock will bear fruit at a relatively young age. The M111 rootstock is also known by the names MM111 and EMLA 111.
M106: An M106 rootstock is another semi-dwarfing variety that will produce a tree that is about 70% the size of a standard apple tree. They are quite productive and do not usually need staking. They should not be planted in wet spots due to their susceptibility to root rot. Rather, if you are looking to plant a tree in your backyard and go with an M106 rootstock variety, be sure to select a location with well-draining soil. Trees on the M106 rootstock are resistant to wooly apple aphid and show some resistance to fire blight. The M106 rootstock is also known as MM106 and EMLA106.
Selecting and growing an apple tree might seem overwhelming at first, but we hope this guide has helped break down some of the general mysteries in the beginning stages of that process. If you’ve still got questions, pop into our nursery, and one of our experts would be happy to help start you on your journey toward growing and enjoying delicious apples for years to come!
Fall is the Perfect Time to Plant Shrubs and Trees
If you want to improve your landscaping with some trees or shrubs, now is the time to do it. Fall is one of the best seasons for adding trees and shrubs to your landscaping. The more moderate temperatures, more frequent rainfall, and less intense sunshine reduce the transplanting stress for your new trees and shrubs.
The other perks of fall planting are that your trees and shrubs don’t have to worry about producing fruit or leaves. Deciduous trees and shrubs can drop their leaves and focus their energy on developing a robust root system through the North Carolina fall and winter. Having strong roots come spring will set them up for developing healthy leaves, flowers, and fruit in the spring. Planting in the fall may also result in some trees and shrubs blooming in their first summer instead of waiting until the second summer.
Guidelines for Planting Trees and Shrubs in Fall
Once your trees and shrubs are home, start getting them in the ground quickly.
When you’re adding trees and shrubs to your yard, there are some standard guidelines to follow to help ensure your investments’ success.
Before your trees are delivered, or before you bring them home, figure out where you’re going to be planting. Ensure you have enough room for the full mature size of your chosen tree or shrub wherever you’re going to plant it. Double-check where any buried cables, pipes, or lines are on your property, so you don’t hit anything when digging.
You can also start to prepare your planting holes ahead of time. Planting holes should be as deep as the root ball or pot the tree or shrub is in and about three times as wide as the root ball.
You should plant your trees or shrubs as soon as you can after you bring them home or they are delivered. If possible, plant your trees in the late afternoon or early evening on an overcast day. This will also help to reduce stress and prevent excess evaporation from the roots.
Once your trees and shrubs are home, start getting them in the ground quickly. If you can’t plant them right away, store them somewhere in the shade, and keep them well-watered so that the roots don’t dry out.
When the planting holes are ready, remove your trees or shrubs from their pots or burlap, and center them in the hole. Before you start adding soil, lay a shovel or rake handle across the hole, over the root ball. The top of the root ball should be level or slightly higher than the top edge of the planting hole. If it’s not, remove the tree or shrub and add more soil underneath the root ball.
Center your tree or shrub in the hole, and have someone hold it straight or stake it while you backfill around the root ball. Fill halfway, and water it thoroughly so the soil can settle in around the roots. Once the water has soaked into the ground, finish filling the hole and then tamp the soil in well with your heels. Creating a berm of soil 2-3 inches tall around the tree’s root ball will help keep the water soaking in over the root ball when you water, instead of draining away.
Add a Blanket of Mulch
Once you’ve planted your trees and shrubs, you can add a nice thick layer of organic mulch—aim for a thickness of approximately 3-4 inches. Organic mulch has many benefits for your landscape, besides its clean and tidy look. It helps regulate soil moisture and temperature. It protects the roots of plants from extreme weather, and over time, it actually improves the soil. Just make sure you don’t build a mulch in a “volcano” shape around the trunk of your tree, as that will almost inevitably cause rot, which could kill your pretty new plant.
If you’ve been thinking of adding some trees and shrubs, there’s no better time than the fall! Stop by our garden center today and check out our diverse collection of nursery-grown trees and shrubs.
Get Four-Season Beauty with These Trees And Shrubs
Planting some trees and shrubs is a fairly easy way to add beauty and even increase the value of your property. Having an assortment of trees and shrubs also helps support the biodiversity of plants and wildlife in your area.
Most shrubs and trees have a specific season of beauty, and then they fade into the background for much of the year. But, there are a few trees and shrubs that take beauty to a whole new level, with unique features for every season. Here are a few options for North Carolina.
Paperbark Maple is an excellent deciduous choice for four-season beauty. They're on the smaller side, usually maturing between 20-30 feet tall and feature beautiful exfoliating bark. The older bark, which is a dark purple-brown, peels back to reveal the new cinnamon red-brown bark underneath. This effect is particularly eye-catching during the winter. In the spring, it puts out beautiful dark green leaves, which retain their color quite long into the fall. These are some of the last trees to start turning, and it's worth the wait. Their leaves turn shades of vibrant red and orange, and they hang on right into the winter before they finally drop.
Serviceberries are a large group of trees and shrubs that are beautiful all year round. Also native to North America, they're deciduous, easy to care for, and can last up to 40 years once established. There are many different varieties of serviceberries available, but they all feature beautiful spring flowers, small but pretty apple-like fruits, beautiful leaf colors in the fall, and unique bark colors through the winter. Their fruits are edible and make delicious jams or jellies. The bark of most serviceberries is a unique silvery-gray and looks elegant and refined in winter.
Redbud is another easy-care deciduous tree that offers beautiful four-season interest. They feature beautiful pink blossoms in the spring that can last as long as 3 weeks. The heart-shaped leaves emerge as dark burgundy after flowering, transitioning to forest green. The leaves turn buttery yellow in the fall and leave behind interesting brown pods when they drop. These pods hang on through much of winter and add visual interest when most other trees are stark and empty.
Chinese Fringetree is an excellent but underutilized tree for the south. It tolerates the heat and humidity of our summers and it’s considered a small grower (up to 15-20 feet tall), which is perfect for today’s smaller landscapes. The springtime blooms are wisps of white fringe shaped petals. Summer foliage is a nice, deep green with hardly any pest or disease problems. In autumn, foliage turns yellow, before falling off to reveal the papery, peeling bark.
Japanese Maples are a great family of trees and shrubs for year-round interest. There are many dwarf varieties available with a wide variety of growing habits, sizes, and colors. They all feature the classic 5 lobed maple leaf, but the presentation of the leaves varies widely. Some have the typical broad maple leaf look, while others have lobes that are deeply cut and quite drapey. Then there are the types that have a feathery look with deep cuts, narrow lobes, and serrations. Japanese maples range widely in color, from bright red-almost-pink leaves to bold crimson red. There are also varieties that are shades of vibrant green, bright yellow, or nearly black. Japanese maples often feature uniquely colored bark, and when they drop their leaves they have a beautiful natural shape.
Dogwood shrubs feature pretty spring flowers, long oval leaves that turn stunning colors in the fall, and many types have colorful branches that add contrast to the winter landscape.
Plum Yew is a unique evergreen shrub. It features long, dark green fern-like needle-shaped leaves. It has gray bark that starts to peel in thin strips as it matures. There is a wide variety of sizes and shapes, from a tall narrow upright (known as ‘Fastigiata’), to a round shaped one (‘Duke Gardens’ and ‘Drupacea’), to a flatter ground hugging shape (‘Fritz Huber’ and ‘Prostrata’).
Virginia Sweetspire is native to the Southeast US preferring moist soil and tolerating drier soils. Spring blooms are highly fragrant. Fall foliage is a deep merlot color which, unlike most deciduous shrubs, persists until mid winter.
Fall is a great time to add new trees and shrubs to your landscaping. It gives them some time to focus on growing strong roots before they have to worry about putting out fruit or leaves. Stop by the garden center today and choose some beautiful four-season trees and shrubs for your yard.
There’s nothing better to announce the arrival of spring in your neighbourhood than the budding blooms on your spring flowering trees. They’re dedicated to creating bursts of color and fragrance early in the season that celebrate the beginning of the warmer season. From dainty and delicate whites to vibrant purple and magenta hues, spring blooming trees are a glamorous addition to your landscape that are sure to not only make you smile every year at blooming time, but impress everyone who has the pleasure of experiencing them. Here’s how to get some of our favorites into your home to enjoy for yourself:
Rising Sun Redbud
These trees are known for their iconic pink flowers - but also for a spectacular display of heart-shaped foliage. Color varies from bright green to peachy orange and is set against a beautiful tree to make for a stunning statement piece in your landscape from spring and all through the season.
Smaller in stature, the Rising Sun makes up for height in the formidable nature of their growing season, standing out among the rest of the trees in your landscape. Fortunately, for all their aesthetic punch, these trees aren’t divas to match, and will thrive in a range of soil conditions and levels of sun exposure, even being known to stand up to urban pollution.
Carolina Sweetheart Redbud
We can’t get enough of the redbuds because they are just such a fantastic variety of tree - and the Carolina Sweetheart is yet another favorite for spring blooming. They offer pink-purple flowers that add a charm to your yard in the spring, creating a romantic getaway in your own yard. Set against heart-shaped leaves edged in peachy tones and with blooms of pale and warm pink, there’s nothing to capture your heart of the eye of your sweetheart like this fabulous tree. It’s like something from a fairytale and can be found just outside your door.
Like other redbuds, the Carolina Sweetheart is a tough grower with a stomach for all sorts of conditions. Give it a good head start and fuel its romantic growth with some organic fertilizer, like compost, when you plant it.
A late-blooming tree for the spring, you can expect the white-pink, cup-shaped blooms of the “Betty” Magnolia in April and May. Fashionably late to the party compared to earlier-blooming magnolias, this tree is much less likely to be damaged by chilly spring weather. Some owners even report repeat blooms late in the summer when the weather begins to chill again. A stunning sight, you won’t miss a magnolia in your yard.
Plant in early spring, in a location that gives full or partial sun with well-draining soil. Despite their beautiful appearance, they’re actually quite tolerant of different conditions and can even tolerate urban pollution. Smaller and tough, but still bold and beautiful, these are a great choice for almost any landscape and home. There’s room for a magnolia in nearly every garden!
Thundercloud Purple Leaf Plum
With such a dramatic name, you know that this tree has to offer something special for your home. With enchanting pink blooms, the “Thundercloud” Purple Leaf Plum fills the air in your yard with a light and sweet fragrance that is followed by the unveiling of gorgeous leaves in shades of deep purple-red. With such gorgeous blooms and foliage in statement colors, this dense and large canopy tree is best as a centerpiece in large-scale landscapes.
Plant your Purple Leaf Plum in a sunny and bright area where it will have the sunshine to fuel its abundant blooms and leaves. While they are adaptable to all sorts of soil textures, you’ll have the healthiest and best looking tree with well-draining soil with some acidity. Water regularly, especially in the summer heat, to keep them looking their best.
This tree is perfect for when you aren’t quite sure if you want a small tree or large shrub - growing up to a modest 20 feet, they make for a compact addition to the yard. Their thrilling and fresh green foliage are set against delightful panicles of red, tubular flowers. Not only is this tree a great decorative addition to your home, but you’ll be delighted to see more hummingbirds in your yard as they can’t get enough of their long blooms growing in 4-10” bunches of bright red.
This tree is adaptable to a number of conditions, but will thrive in a spot that provides a little afternoon shade and sun exposure in the morning and evening - though it is surprisingly shade tolerant if that can’t be arranged. These trees offer a lot of visual impact with the contrast between blooms and leaves, giving a lot of statement for their comparatively diminutive and manageable size.
Chinese Fringe Tree
According to the NC State’s Urban Tree Evaluation Program, this tree is “very adaptable with few problems. One of the best small trees in the program,” We think this is a modest way to say that it packs a lot in for its size, offering delightful blossoms and intoxicating fragrance set against rich and leathery leaves - all without being too fussy about maintenance. They are related to our native fringe tree, helping them to simply thrive in our backyards.
We particularly like the Tokyo Towers cultivar, which has an upright growing habit that takes up minimal space while still offering the same fluffy blooms, making it perfect to fit into modern smaller yards.
Flowers are a pretty sign of spring that brings excitement about the season to come after a long and dreary winter. With the cool weather on its way out, warm up your garden with some cheerful, romantic, and gorgeous spring-blooming trees.
Carolina Seasons Nursery