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I improperly planted my Medlar tree - how to bury the graft?

 
Posts: 13
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Who knew!

Apparently, you need to bury the graft of a Medlar tree to let it form its own roots. The union between the rootstock (I think they used hawthorn for mine) will not last forever, and as the tree grows will become a bigger issue. I can't find much information on this, other than the constant advice: bury the graft.

The tree is performing very well, and I'm surprised that for the first year in the ground it will give us a few fruit. Here are my options:

1: Build up the soil around the tree by four inches or so. The mound would drain quickly I think, making any resulting roots susceptible to drought.

2: Now, middle of summer, dig out the roots and bury them. The ground might be softer and the roots less developed than later in the year, but greater shock to the plant.

3: After leaf fall in autumn, dig out the tree and bury it deeper.

4: Spring of next year, while dormant, dig out and bury the tree deeper.

5: Leave as is, it'll be fine...


I have a feeling I know what people will say, but I'm new to this and I don't have all the information. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. :)
 
pollinator
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That could be true, but I’ve never heard it before. I have two grafted medlars that are about six years old. They’re doing great so far.

Without more information about it being necessary to bury the graft, I’d leave it alone.

If it does need to be buried, I’d build it up at least 8 inches.  If the graft is just barely underground, it might not root anytime soon. It might not stay moist enough. If it roots above the graft, I think the original roots should keep it going until the new roots are deep enough to stand some dry weather.  I’m just speculating though. I haven’t heard of this being done.
 
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This is from GardenFocused

If you grow a medlar tree on its own roots it will grow to about 7m / 23ft tall and about the same width. This is too large for most gardens so all medlar trees sold in the UK are grafted onto dwarfing rootstock. The rootstock is the lower part of the tree and will be dwarfing - either quince or hawthorn. The upper part of the tree is a medlar. The rootstock will be responsible to a large degree for the overall size of the tree. Normally, grafted medlar trees grow to a height of 3m / 10ft and a width of 4m / 13ft, a very nice size for many gardens.



So you have a grafted tree, and found some highly suspect information, that you seem to believe is correct (the internet is full of misinformation).

The low down on grafted trees is;
Grafted trees, no matter what family, genus, species are grafted for some reason, usually to restrict size or increase disease resistance.

The graft is never buried because, as you mentioned, the scion will grow roots and that does away with the rootstock.

If you didn't want the properties of the root stock, why buy a grafted tree in the first place?

So if you want a big tree, the medlar is a rather large fruit tree (related to the pears) when grown on its own roots. "Medlar is known for its tree habit and growing to a height of approximately 7.00 meters (22.75 feet). This plant tends to bloom in late spring."

Be aware that if you go ahead as you plan and bury the root stock, the tree will grow to around 22 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
The hawthorn root stock was used to keep the tree at around 4 meters tall.

By the way, hawthorn trees are known to grow for well over 100 years.

Redhawk
 
Don Komarechka
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Location: Barrie, Ontario
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Thanks for the feedback so far, guys!

I bought the tree from Whiffletree Farm & Nursery out of Elora, Ontario. Right below their Medlar selections in their catalog it reads:

"They should be planted with the graft union several inches below the soil level to allow the scion to form its own roots"

From North Coast Gardening ( http://northcoastgardening.com/2016/01/growing-medlars/ ):

"Due to the slow growth of own-rooted medlar trees, a cultivated variety is often grafted on a compatible rootstock— pear, quince A, or hawthorn. Graft incompatibility is not uncommon. To avoid sudden breakage, this is one tree where planting the graft union below the soil is recommended." ... and then they immediate contradict themselves in the following sentences: "This will eventually encourage own rooting and will sustain the mature tree. For small garden spaces, Quince A in particular is often chosen to create a dwarf tree." - wouldn't stay dwarf on it's own roots!

Home Orchard Society ( http://www.homeorchardsociety.org/growfruit/trees/persimmons-medlar/ ) has this to say:

"Medlar differs from other fruit trees in the way it is planted. For most fruit trees, it is recommended that you make sure the graft union stays well above the soil line. Medlar is the opposite. The union between the medlar and the rootstock is weak. Once the new graft has healed, plant your tree with the graft union below the soil line. Both the rootstock and the medlar will root and provide good support for the tree."


Many people seem to be of the opinion that the union between the rootstock and the Medlar is weak. The nursery I bought it from even suggests burying the graft. Hmm.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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There isn't any reason to not bury the graft, unless you don't want a full sized tree. The Medlar is such an ancient fruit tree that it can survive nicely on its own roots.
It seems from your information that location on the planet has a lot to do with the way they are treated.

Holland recommends keeping the graft above ground, and this sentiment abounds in Europe and England. (gardens aren't usually large spaces)
Here in the states it is an either or recommendation.
Australia seems to be similar to the US sentiments.

I'd just decide how big a tree I could have and use that for making the decision.

Odds are that up in Canada it is based on survival of winter that was the deciding factor.
One of our daughters has one in her front yard that has the graft above ground, but she lives in BC where the weather is different.
If I was going to plant a medlar I'd have to let it grow on its own roots because of the donkey, who loves fruit tree leaves.

If you already have it planted with the graft above ground, just wait till leaf drop + 2 weeks then lift and replant it deeper, that way all will be good.

Graft strength is related to the root stock used. Quince is closer related and forms a nice, strong union.  Hawthorne is not as closely related so that might be a weaker union.

Redhawk
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I am wondering why these aren't just rooted straight away instead of all the trouble of grafting.
Seems like a lot of extra effort and possibly lost scion wood that could have just been rooted so it was already on own roots.
The Medlar also can be air layered with great success and in the spring it roots fairly easily. (just incase you want more than one)
 
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Anyone have growing info for this tree? As well as uses for the fruit. I read what i could from the internet and found little/no info on where it grows.

I was intrigued by the november fruit. It reminds me of persimmons. Except for the rotting nature of medlars.

I am debating on whether to plant some trees in 8a Central Tx or add more persimmons instead.

Any real life comparisons would be appreciated.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Ok Wayne, the tree grows in USDA zones 4-9 has a growth pattern similar to the Saskatoon or Service Berry.
The tree blooms in spring with fruits coming ripe in fall (most times it is fairly late fall).
Medlars can be stored if picked while still hard, once they turn brown they are ripe and will last a week perhaps two.

My pallet describes the flavor as citrus/ baked apple

Need more of a description?

Redhaw
 
wayne fajkus
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Thanks.  Its amazing how many "new to me" fruit trees there are. Every year i think I've planted the last type, then something new comes along. I'll give it a try. This past year was jujube and paw paw. Thought i was done. Lol
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Long ago I kept a list, when it go so long I realized I'd have to own over 300 acres just to grow everything on that list, I stopped adding to it.
Wolf found that list a few years ago and it turned to ashes, I do thank her for that.
 
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I just thought that I would note that I just had my first harvest of medlar fruit this autumn and have become a big fan of the little fruit. I planted a Marron medlar three years ago. The fruit is very tasty, and complex in flavor. Some folks think it tastes of apple butter. Some hints of dried dates and figs. A bit like apple brandy sometimes. Each little fruit from the same tree tastes a little bit different. I planted a Royal Medlar this past spring and it also seems to be doing well.

Cedar apple rust is a big issue here. I tried  to plant an Azarole Hawthorn but the cedar apple rust quickly killed it. It didn't survive four months. The medlars seem to pick up just a little bit of the cedar apple rust, but they still do well none the less. They are not cedar apple rust proof but they seem to be cedar apple rust resistant.

The fruits are funny little things. They each invividually ripen on their own sweet time via the process of bletting. I waited until after we had an ice storm in late October that caked the trees and their fruits in ice. A few days later I picked the fruits off the tree and brought them inside where I laid them out on sheets of newsprint. Some fruits in a matter of a few days were quicky ripe. Weeks later, some are still yet to ripen. Some medlar fruits seem destned not to ripen at all but to just dry up into little mummy fruits. But the majority become brown, mushy soft, and sweet. And good to eat. But there is not much too these fruits to eat. It is hard to see how they could ever be commercialized. But they do make nice sweet treats to snack on through the holiday season. A little taste of Medieval times. Something to eat slowly, just a few fruits at a time as they ripen, and to savor each bite.

Now that I have tasted medlar fruit and see that they can grow well here in Central Oklahoma, I plan to plant a couple more trees when I can make the arrangements.

I should note that I planted both of my medlar trees with the graft below ground. I planted them in a protected area. Here in Central Oklahoma the wind comes whipping down the plains, and even non-grafted medlar trees are known to be brittle and to break easily. So far, the little trees seem to be taking the wind in stride.
 
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Howard Spencer, I'm in Western OK and on the lookout for fruit trees that will survive the wind. Do you know where you purchased the medlar tree and what variety you purchased? I've got cedar trees so am assuming I have rust; I wonder if a non-Hawthorn graft would help prevent rust? How old are your trees and do they need watering after a few years or could they survive in a windbreak unirrigated after a few years?
 
Howard Spencer
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Denise,

At present I have a Marron medlar that fruited this fall, and a Royal Medlar that was planted just this past spring. I purchased both medlars from One Green World in Oregon.

https://onegreenworld.com/?s=medlar

They were recommed to me me by a friend who runs a nursery in Colorado. He had not planted medlars but he had ordered from One Green World on many occasions. The trees were just bare root whips when they arrived but they grew quickly. The one that fruited produced several dozen fruits in its third year planted here.

Other medlar varieties are available from Raintree Nursery. I haven't ordered from them.

https://raintreenursery.com/collections/medlar-trees

They have done a study on the genetic diversity of medlars. Some differently named varieties are actually the same genetic variety. Others seem to be quiet different genetically. The chart near the bottom of the below link is informative. Having two different tree varieties is not necessary but I figure that it might help to produce more fruit.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283330244_GENETIC_DIVERSITY_OF_MEDLAR_MESPILUS_GERMANICA_GERMPLASM_USING_MICROSATELLITE_MARKERS

Some claim that the Iranian medlars taste best. Royal is often called a Russian medlar but the genetics say it is an Iranian medlar. Mine has not yet fruited. So, I am interested to see what differences there are between the fruits of the Marron and Royal medlars. Maybe next year!

I have a small property with limited space for planting trees. If I can find suitable space, I woulld like to add to the Marron and Royal medlars that I now have a Pucia Super Mol, a Macrocarpa, and a Sultan from Raintree Nursery just for the sake of added genetic diversity.

Medlars are a romantic fruit, the stuff of Medieval cloisters. In an age when cane sugar did not exist and only the wealthy could afford honey for sweetening, even a peasant could pick wild medlars from the hedgerows and have a sweet treat at the end of the harvest/winter holiday season. Sort of a fruit cake for those who could not afford cake.

Medlar trees have a very hard wood. They make walking sticks out of medlar wood in the Basque country of Spain. But the trees are said to be vulnerable to wind damage. So I have planted my medlars on the East side of my house with some protection from the howling west and north winds.

In Europe, the wild medlars grow in hedgerows. The wild medlars have thorns and smaller fruits. But all of the domesticated medlars come grafted to rootstock. Medlars do not grow all that quickly and even the old ones are not huge. Judging from photos, a mature tree is in the 20 foot range. And unlike most fruit trees, medlars can live for several hundred years. Like hawthorns, they beome more rustic with age. They become twisted and contorted and their limbs tend to spread horizontally.

My medlar trees are near to my house and I keep them well watered. They say that the young trees should be kept well watered for their first four or five years but then they become drought resistant. Since they are native to places like northern Iran, and grow wild in northern Spain, they would appear to like hot dry summers but also enjoy cold winters. The wild non-grafted medlars would appear to be pretty tough trees.

Planting the medlars wiith their grafts below ground level would allow the medlar graft to root on its own. The root stock keeps the trees at a dwarf size of 12 feet or less. But as noted a medlar on its own roots is not a huge tree. Check out the photos on the Internet. They tend  to branch within a few feet of the ground. I planted my medlar trees in raised beds about 18 inches off the ground so that the limbs would be higher and I would be less likely to hit my head when mowing the lawn.

I have a very large red cedar tree within fifty feet of my medlar trees. Trees that are contract apple cedar rust do not surive here. The medlars that I have showed some signs of the apple cedar rust but have not been seriously effected by it.  Hawthorns or quince would not surive here. The medlars that I have are most likely grafted on a quince root stock. Which seems to be another good reason to plant the graft underground level.

I have heard that medlars are not easy to grow from seed and do not grow true to variety when grown from seed. But if you have the time and patience, growing medlars from seed might be the best way to eventurally have a quantity medlars that would survive in a hedgerow. The wild thorny medlar fruits are said to be very tasty, just small. But, you should plant a few of the grafted ones first, and see which ones do best or survive in your area. And then maybe you can plant seeds in mass from your own medlar trees.









 
denise ra
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Howard Spencer, thank you for sharing this detailed information about medlars. I am putting in a hedge on the northeast side of one of my pastures. I started with Osage orange. There is what I believe is a hawthorn tree growing near there. I don't know if I would ever get there to water the hedge though, it's on the far side of the property and a seasonal water course. Your comments about wind concern me as that's mostly what we have here in Western Oklahoma, both from the North and the South. I might try planting them down in the gully or on the edges of it.
 
Howard Spencer
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It sounds llike you are living pretty basic out there in Western Oklahoma. A medlar tree might be more effort than it is of value for you just now. But it might be something to experiment with some day. Osage Orange is a native tree and is a traditional hedge row tree in these parts. It bares fruit but you can't eat it. Medlars have edible fruit once the fruits are bletted. Years ago they planted Russian Olive trees on the American plains as a wind break, but they do not have edible fruit and they became invasive. Medlars are a non-native tree, but they probably would not become invasive as they do not grow readily from seed.

Medlars might be something to keep in mind for planting later, once you have settled in. They are an interesting fruit tree that might do well out your way due to their apple cedar rust resistance.
 
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Good info in this thread! I buried my graft unions but doubt its neccesary.  Two of my medlars have fallen over in my sandy soil. Where the branches touched the ground, I buried them and they rooted, forming dense hedges and totally suppressing all undergrowth. With their twisted branches ,it makes for a wonderful secret hideaway inside these dense hedges. The trees continue to spread this way and insure that graft issues will never be a problem.
Medlar seeds are truly double dormant so one must wait two years after planting seed to see results. That, and the slow growing nature of the young seedlings does not lend itself to their use as a rootstock. Whereas fruiting quince is easy and reliable from seed and grows more rapidly.
The wild forms get the best reviews here on the farm and blett with 100% consistancy making them a better candidate for food processing.  The largest forms can break down various ways so each one must be tested if using in quantity in a recipe.  This added effort has a tendency to offset the gains made in breeding for size if used in that application. The wild forms do have spines and stay upright instead of slouching.
 
Howard Spencer
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Since I last posted I have ordered and planted to medlars from Cricket Hill Gardens.

https://www.treepeony.com/products/medlar-shilda-garden?_pos=6&_sid=c2edf2f10&_ss=r

They sent a Shilda Garden and a Puici Mol. Both were very small. They shipped them this past September when the temperatures here were still hitting the 90's, They were shipped in half gallong growing containers but were dried out and heat stressed upon arrival. I'll not try to plant fall shipments of trees or shurbs again here, and will in the future stick to spring planting. In any event, the Shilda Garden seems  to be doing well, but the Puici Mol lost all of its leaves. It may have gone dormant and may regrow leaves in the spring. We'll see. I am very pleased that the Shilda Garden is going well as it is a very special medlar from the country of Georgia and seems to have a very ancient genetic heritage. However, it is so small that it will be some years before it could produce fruit.

The Marron Medlar tree was very productive last year, but not this year. I over pruned it last winter. And unlke most fruit trees it doesn't like pruning. Also, last spring when it was in bloom we were hit with a major hailstorm that savaged the tree. Not many fruits were set. And in October we were hit with another major hailstorm that took almost all of the fruits that had survived to this point. So, I will lkely not get more than a handfull of fruits this year. The Royal medlar has yet to set fruit.

Thanks for the information of growing from seed. I have friends in the Black Hills who I plan to gift with a couple of medlars from One Green World for spring planting. I also plan to send them seeds from my medlar fruits as they bave a large property and would like to grow medlars from seed. I will pass on your comments about the seeds requiring double wintering.

I've heard of people having issues with some of the larger medlar fruits. And the Breda Giant that a friend tried to grow in Northern Indiana did not survive its second winter.

The climate of central Oklahoma is challenging as are the diseases. So, I am pleased to find a fruit tree in the medlar that seems to survive here.


 
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While this post is already a few years old, I wanted to add a bit of info that will add some context to the conversation.

Medlar does not root easily from cuttings, but it can by rooted by layering.  Layering is a fine solution for small scale increase of trees for personal use or for sharing with a couple neighbors.  However, when nurseries are propagating medlar it is most practical to simply propagate them by grafting as it is the quickest way to make the most new trees out of the smallest amount of starting material.  If the rootstock used actually does result in smaller trees that would be a side affect and not the primary reason the medlar trees were grafted.  Regardless of genetic size potential, any fruit tree can be kept at dwarf or semi-dwarf size via summer pruning.  Just don't make the mistake of doing all your fruit tree pruning while they are dormant since that is when you prune to promote vigorous new growth (the opposite of keeping the trees small).  
 
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