Can I cut a growth (the small stems that come out on the trunk of the tree) from an apple tree, and make it grow?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Virginia: The most common method of propagating fruit trees is grafting. This method of propagation is done by joining two different varieties of trees together. This means that the top of the tree, also known as the scion, is different from the bottom or rootstock of the tree. So, the top of your apple tree is the variety that you purchased but the lower part of the tree, below the graft union, a few inches above the base, including the root system, is that of another apple. Growers graft fruit trees for several different reasons, the most important reason being that it makes the trees hardier because it can allow for optimal nutrients. Grafting can manipulate the size of the tree as well as make them more resistant to insect and disease problems. The suckers you have growing from the base of your tree are coming up from the root system of another apple, not that of the apple tree you are intending to grow. So taking cuttings from the suckers and trying to root them will not give you the same apple tree you initially purchased. You can propagate your apple tree by taking semi-hardwood cuttings but propagating by this method is not advantageous for fruit trees. Your tree will not be as productive or as healthy as if it were grafted, and unfortunately this method is not as simple as taking cuttings or collecting seeds. It certainly takes some experience and depending on how inclined you are, it may be worth leaving it up to the professional growers and purchasing another tree from your local garden center.