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advice/guidance - (semdwarf fruit/cocktail trees &suppliers

So, after 3 years I am really going to do it...I have a approx 40' x 60' surburban back yard that I want to plant three dwarf trees. I am considering this combination:
- one honey crisp apple
- one "cocktail' (e.g. 4in1) apple
- one plum tree (or perhaps one 4-in-one plum/peach/?/? tree)

Sunlight is ample, soil is a bit on the clay-ish side but I plan to dig out large area and mix in better soil. Drainage is good - there is a slight slope to the yard.
I am considering getting semidwarf (8-12') but some dwarf sizes look appealing....6-10'.

My questions are:
- What should I be aware of in planting the semidwarf trees and especially the 4in1 trees?
- A good source/supplier of these trees? - I really would like to get some trees that are 'well established' as I don't want to wait 5+ years for a root stock to develop. (this year would be ideal..1-2 yrs acceptable)
- Seems like none of these trees are 'self polinating'...should not be a problem withthe apple trees but I am wondering about the single or 4 in 1 fruit trees.

My thanks in advance for any advice!

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Re: advice/guidance - (semdwarf fruit/cocktail trees &suppl

Advice... Be careful when pruning the 4 in 1 trees that you don't inadvertently prune a variety completely off the tree. This week I removed a grafted branch by accident. Oh No!!! Not much to be done at that point other than start over or find a hole to crawl into. Plant grafted trees at the appropriate depth so that the graft doesn't get into the soil and send down it's own set of roots. That could turn them into standard trees.

There should be plenty of pollen in the orchard with the presence of the 4 in 1 apple tree.

A single plum tree could have problems with pollination if there are no other plums in your neighborhood and if it requires a pollinator. The 4:1 fruit cocktail tree should be OK for pollination as long as the different varieties are flowering at the same time. I'd hope that the creators of the tree would pay attention to that sort of thing.

I've finally become good enough at grafting that I've started top-grafting my own multi-variety trees. Last year I made a 6 in 1 apple. I added my favorite variety to it this year. (A feral variety that I have loved since I was a child.) A few weeks ago I grafted almonds onto an apricot tree. Yesterday I grafted more apples.


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Re: advice/guidance - (semdwarf fruit/cocktail trees &suppl

I agree that you need to be careful to not prune off any of the grafts. As to a supplier I recommend going to a local nursery. They should have large (15 gallon) potted trees, but more importantly varieties that will do well in your area.

Pretty much every type of fruit has varieties that are self pollinating. Before you buy make sure you read the tags.

Have you thought about planting 4 in 1 hole? You could do this instead of or in addition to the multi-grafted trees.

I highly recommend not buying a tree on a specific rootstock because it is semi dwarfing or standard. I recommend buying trees on rootstocks based off of what will do well in your soil. Dwarf trees can get the same size as a standard tree they just grow slower. You should be the one that controls the size of your tree by summer pruning. Dwarf trees also take longer to outgrow problems unlike standard trees. The grower the grows most of the deciduous fruit trees for the west coast (Dave Wilson) has a demonstration orchard where they kept a standard sized Santa Rosa plum under 4 feet tall it's entire life. Dave Wilson Nursery's website has a lot of good information it is

I work at a nursery in the fruit tree department and I give that speech to so many of my customers :)

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