espalier - not apple or pear

lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)July 12, 2005

Does anyone have any experience with creating an espalier with some other type of fruit, like plums, apricots or cherries. I'd really like to try an espalier but I have no use for apples or pears. I'd even consider quince or hazelnut.

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divaqs(z7 Seattle)

I've not heard of anyone attempting this before...

But you might be able to use an old nursery trick of nicking the tree trunk at possible bud points on the trunk to stimulate new branch growth in the locations you want.

The plum trees I've grown have been really aggressive in their branch growth, so it would probably be more difficult to maintain them in an espaliated form.
Cherrie trees tend to split more easily, so it wouldn't be advisable to have branches go horizontal for very far.
Chestnut trees can get really big... so that can pose its own problems, unless you are wanting a 50 foot espaliated tree. :)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 1:27PM
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mercury12(Tas Australia)

i just got a book from the library, called Delia Smiths Kitchen Garden. She has an apricot espaliered against a wall in a fan shape. Have a look through the fruit growing or garden books that have a good section on pruning and espalier, they should tell you how to train the tree and what to look for when purchasing a plant


    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 9:50PM
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Just look for books on topiary - it should provide you with a visual guide on how to do the pruning. Basically, you can create a fan shape espalier or candelabra style or even do a cordon (I believe that's the terminology). You can have trees that have been trained with only 2 branches spread low and out forming low fences. You could basically experiment in any shapes you'd like to try. It just takes some good old research on techniques. And it's best that you have a good guide book to help you out. The book can be on topiary or it can be on pruning techniques.

You can train young fruit plants when their branches are still pliable and so can be trained using strong galvanized wires or straight sticks.

Theoretically you can form any fruit trees into topiaries - but there are some including peaches, apples, cherries, pears, oranges - - that are more suited to the style. Espaliers are planted in areas where space is an issue, and along walls that receive the longest amount of heat and sunlight. You can even create one out of grapes which is a vine.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 4:17PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I have often seen apricots and peaches as fans here because they can then be grown against a sunny wall for extra warmth. I have also seen cherries done as fans. But I've never seen any of them as espaliers, presumably for good reason. But there's no harm in trying.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 2:11PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Thanks so much for the encouragement and resources! I'm fascintated by espalier but I don't know if I'll be able to find a suitable tree. I'm kinda picky. We'll have to see next spring, because there's not many fruit tree varieties to choose from at local nurseries, plus I don't think fall is a good time to be starting and espalier. Boy, the nursery stock around here really took a beating during this hot summer!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 12:14PM
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lynnt(Z7 MD)

The William Paca House in Annapolis, a historic home dating back to colonial times (he was one of the signers of the Declaration) has a lovely restored colonial-period garden, including an espaliered peach, an archway of pleached (interwoven) pears and several plums grown along a low fencerail. If you're in the area in mid-spring, they have a wonderful plant sale every May -- heirloom plants for cheap -- in conjunction with a garden open house.

I remember seeing a variety of fancy grafting at Longwood Gardens too.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 1:43PM
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corp_gypsy(7 nc usa)

Has anyone had experience using a fig tree for an espalier?


    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 12:43AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Again I've never seen an espalier fig but I have seen fans. But they are always a bit haphazard looking due to the nature of fig growth.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 11:49AM
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greenwitch(Sz19 SoCal)

Check out this site - these folks in Australia espalier just about everything. Apple and pear are best (flexible branches) for the formal styles, candelabra, etc. Peaches, apricots and plums do better in a fan style flat against a wall or fence.

Here is a link that might be useful: espalier

    Bookmark   October 31, 2005 at 4:36PM
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you've probably found your answer by now but I have a very old garden design book floating around here somewhere that shows a photo of an espaliered fig in a walled garden in, I think, Georgia. I remember it because it looked so lovely that I wanted to try it in my Moms garden, then found out that figs won't grow in Buffalo,n.y. This was way back in about 1989-90.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 4:13PM
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Most plants can be espaliered, but those with naturally spreading branches, such as apple, pear, quince, and camellia, work best.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 7:04PM
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I had part of my small backyard landscaped, and asked the landscape contractor to plant 4 small fruit trees to be espalier against a wrought iron fence. They are Hosui asian pear, Stella cherry, Twentieth Century asian pear, and Craig's crimsom cherry. Although the landscape contractor recommended not trying the cherry trees due to their strongly upward growth, he went ahead and planted them. My learning points: The asian pears are a cinch to train and very fruitful. But the cherry branches must be trained during the brief period when the young branches are small and pliable. Once they begin to stiffen, it puts a strain on the branches to tie them horizontally. One branch finally cracked under the strain. My other mistake is how close the trunk is to the wrought iron fence. It looked great when the young trees were planted 1 1/2 years ago, only 2-3 inches from the fence. The trunk's girth is expanding rapidly even though they are all semi-dwarf rootstock, and are now touching the fence. I fear that in a few short years, my fence will begin leaning from the weight of the expanding tree trunks. Should have planted at least 6 inches from the fence. Wonder why the landscape contractor didn't point that out? He is very experienced.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 1:26PM
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I'm going to try to espalier a serviceberry tree. (The new super fruit!) Stay tuned for results.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 6:44PM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)

You can espalier stone fruit with no problem. Because stone fruit produce on last years wood the "fan" method of espalier works better because it allows for easier pruning to replace old wood with new fruiting wood.

If you Google " espalier plum" you will see hundresds of photos showing horizontal as well as fan espalier plums


    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 10:43PM
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maybe a fig or loquat, but would require frequent pruning.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2015 at 3:54PM
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pugetsoundgardener(8 Puget Sound WA)

I have plums and cherries espaliered using the French arcure l'epage method. They're pretty young still so we'll see how they do, but I've managed to get the young branches to do complete loops without cracking as required by this espalier method.

    Bookmark   last Thursday at 6:37PM
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