What is a Rootstock?
Rootstocks provide the root system to graft a fruit tree or ornamental variety onto. Unlike seedling grown trees, grafting allows you to preserve the original features (fruit/flower) of the grafted variety.
Rootstock also offer many beneficial qualities and will influence:
-Anchorage and soil preferences
-Fruit size and precocity
Grafting is a form of propagation that preserves the characteristics of a plant variety.
While you certainly can grow a tree from seed, you may not get the results you desire.
In most cases, seeds are natures way of mixing up the genetics to create new characteristics, so an apple grown from a seed may not be 'true to type' - which means it may not have the familiar characteristics of the parent tree.
A seedling grown apple may have a different flavour, a new colour or the tree may have a different vigour and susceptibility to disease.
This presents opportunities for new characteristics, but if you are looking to grow a particular variety, and enjoy the same fruit flavour, colour, or fruit ripening time that is unique to that variety, then grafting allows you to propagate and preserve a variety ‘true to type’.
Grafting onto rootstock also provides a healthy root system with known characteristics, such as how well it grows in a particular soil type.
It will also determine the susceptibility to root diseases, which can be important, as some varieties are particularly susceptible to disease when grown on their own roots.
It also allows you to determine the mature height of your tree.
With dwarfing rootstock, you can reduce the height of your tree to make it more manageable for picking and pruning, and allow you to grow more fruit in the space you have available. Dwarfing rootstocks will also reduce the time it takes for a tree to bear fruit, so you can enjoy the fruits of your labour much sooner.
Grafting is a cost effective and enjoyable way to grow your own fruiting and ornamental trees. And it is certainly the cheapest way to grow a productive home orchard that is tailored to your space and your needs.
Grafting Grade and Liner Grade
What is the difference?
Each rootstock is measured, and the “Grade” is the diameter, or thickness, of the rootstock.
Grafting Grade rootstock are thicker (higher calliper) and are ready to graft this season Winter through to early Spring. Although you can graft onto thinner rootstock, grafting onto the thicker Grafting Grade size rootstock will ensure greater success rates and your tree will gain much more growth in the first year.
Liner Grade rootstock are thinner (lower calliper), and are best used for growing-on and grafting the following year, or budding in late Summer/early Autumn. These are planted out, either in the ground or in pots. All side branches except for one single “leader” are removed and this is what you will graft onto when budding.
How do I care for my rootstock?
General care: Keep your rootstock cool and damp until you are ready to graft. You can store your rootstock in its plastic packaging for a short time, as long as it is kept out of direct sunlight and is kept cool. You may wish to temporarily ‘heel’ your rootstock into the ground until you are ready to graft, by burying the roots in damp, friable soil, moist sawdust or potting mix.
Plant out as soon as possible after grafting; either into a pot, a temporary ‘nursery’ area for easy care, or their final position in your garden. You can trim the roots a little before planting out, to encourage new growth.
Stake your tree: Stake and tie your grafted tree for the first year, to help protect the graft union. This is useful for all newly grafted trees, even if the rootstock is vigorous and doesn’t require staking once established.
Remove rootstock growth: Remove all root suckers and any rootstock shoots that grow below your graft. Trim as close to the trunk as possible. Our LISAM professional pruners are excellent for this.
Removing Grafting Tape: When your grafts have healed and there is approximately 200 - 500mm of growth on the trees it’s time to remove the grafting tape. This will normally be in mid-December to late-January. The easiest method to remove the tape is to use a sharp knife (ie Stanley knife) or secateurs, and cut through the tape. It is very important to cut all the way through the knot when using embossed PVC grafting tape, otherwise it can strangle your tree.
Watering: It is imperative trees are watered regularly, especially in warm weather. Water your grafted tree in well when planting, and every week for the first Spring and Summer. If growing in a container, you may need to water everyday while the temperature is warm/hot.
When Should I Graft?
Grafting Grade rootstock are ready to graft this Winter/early Spring, as long as the scion/grafting wood is still dormant. You can graft indoors and without soil, as long as your rootstock roots don’t dry out. You can soak your rootstock roots in a bucket of water overnight before grafting indoors.
For Winter Grafting, we use and recommend the Whip and Tongue method. Making your cut surface as long and as flat as possible will ensure the cambium layers have as much contact as possible and give the best results. Our embossed grafting tape will keep your graft held together tightly, and keep water out of your graft.
For Liner Grade rootstock, plant these in the ground, or in a pot, and allow them to grow-on. Trim all side branches, except for one ‘single leader’. You can then graft in late-Summer/early-Autumn by budding when the rootstock is actively growing.
Chip budding is the most common form of grafting in Australia. The timing of budding depends on the bud wood variety used.
Liner Grade rootstock are also suitable for growing-on and field grafting the following Winter/Spring. We advise field grafting in dry weather.
Occasionally we hear recommendations that beginner grafters use Liner Grade rootstocks for whip and tongue grafting (in the current Winter season). The smaller calliper makes it easier to cut, however, it can reduce the success of your graft.
If you are a beginner, practice on small wood to get your confidence, and then use Grafting Grade size rootstock, as these are the perfect size, and give the best chance for success.
You can practice on any dormant wood you have available, just make sure it is new growth from the previous Spring/Summer so that it isn't too woody. Cherry wood is excellent for practicing, as it is much softer to cut.
When ordering rootstock, we have a minimum order quantity of 10 for each rootstock variety.
Our prices are listed as single units (price per rootstock),
For example; an Order Quantity of 1 = One Single Rootstock Unit
We have listed our rootstock prices as single units because often customers would like to order quantities that are not multiples of 10, such as 13 or 25.
Orders do not have to be in multiples of 10.
Our shipping costs are also based around a minimum order quantity.
There is no feature built into the web site that will set a minimum order quantity. Therefore, customers are capable of ordering a single rootstock and this will not be prevented by the web site. However, as we have a minimum shipping fee, customers that order small quantities will be paying a higher rate for shipping.
Rootstock are harvested during the Winter dormant months, and shipped bare rooted. We only ship rootstock and trees while they are dormant, which is from 1st of July to 1st of September, unless sold out earlier. We cannot post rootstock or trees outside of this timeframe.
All rootstock will have their tops cut, to a total length of 450 mm including the root section.
Small orders are bundled with damp newspaper, and wrapped in recycled plastic. Shipping costs are calculated based on the average weight of rootstock bundles.
The minimum shipping fee is $28, and includes packing costs and express postage.
Large orders (200+) are posted in a cardboard box. Rootstock are packed with damp newspaper and sealed in a plastic bag. The minimum shipping fee for large orders is $140 which includes packing costs and express postage.
Under ideal conditions, a failed graft does not mean all is lost. You can simply grow your rootstock and try budding in late-Summer or grafting the following year.
For example, allow your rootstock to grow for a while, then trim off all side branches, except for one "single leader'. You can then try summer chip budding, or wait until the following Winter and try whip and tongue grafting.
If you wish to cancel your order, please let us know promptly so that we can make stock available for other customers.
Order cancellations may incur an administration fee. Orders paid by credit card will have incurred a transaction fee and this fee is non-refundable.