Did you know there are trees on the market now that allow you to grow multiple varieties of fruit on one tree? I came across an apple tree last year that had Pink Lady, Gala and Fuji all on one tree and thought I was reading it wrong. I obviously wanted to learn more about these incredible multi-graft trees, sometimes known as ‘fruit salad trees. How cool are they? If you don’t have the space to plant an orchard, just plant a couple of these trees in your yard or pots and get different varieties at one time. Below, learn how to grow fruit salad trees!
My dad, a few friends and I went to the International Tulare Ag Show back in February. It is a huge event in California with agriculture experts, vendors and ranchers from all over the world coming together for a few days.
There is everything from machinery and irrigation, to dairy equipment and falconry. Almost anything you can think of that might be utilized in the Agriculture industry is showcased. It is quite impressive!
One of the booths we stumbled upon was the multi-grafted tree booth. As mentioned earlier, I saw an apple tree at the nursery that had been grafted to produce multiple varieties. I was excited to discover that stone fruit trees are now available too. Of course, since they grow well in my area, I purchased both a peach and apricot tree. Each tree includes 6 different types of fruit!
These trees were originated in Australia, where the first trees were grafted. Grafting is where you add one or more cultivars onto an existing tree. In my part of the world, it is often seen done with walnut trees, where prolific fruit bearers are grafted with disease tolerant and durable established trees. In fruit salad trees, up to 8 different varieties of the same type of fruit, such as apple, stone or citrus, are grafted onto a single tree successfully and voila!
To care for the trees, you essentially grow them the same as you would any other fruit tree. Ensure that they receive 4-6 hours of sunshine a day. Feed the tree with compost at the end of winter or very early spring and again towards the end of summer/beginning of fall. As all plants do, they like to pull nutrients from the soil so fertilize them at the roots with well-rotted compost. Also, as with any other plant recently transplanted, water the soil well to encourage root formation and growth. Water on a regular basis until the tree is well established, usually within the first year after planting.
Make sure each variety has the chance to grow on your new tree by not allowing one variety to become more dominant than another. Prune back any grafts that are growing at a more rapid rate than another. By thinning out the branches, this allows each to grow equally, preventing one variety from taking over the whole tree and out manning the slower growing varieties. Continue this process until the tree is at its full maturity.
Finally, as hard as it may be, when the first tiny fruit appears (up to 18 months to occur), remove it immediately in order to allow the tree to fully establish. Once established, enjoy your mixed variety fruit salad! If you have planted one of these trees and have already received fruit from it, I’d love to hear about your experience! I am super eager to see how mine do this summer!