Jorge, Plants, Trees

When deciding on a cherry fruit tree, you have to decide on how big you want your tree. Rootstocks determine the size of you tree with dwarfing rootstocks producing smaller trees. You then have to select a variety, ideally one you like the taste of. As many will not be familiar with cherry varieties, we have made some recommendations.

Introduction To Cherry Fruit Trees

Unlike other fruit species, it is recommended that you choose a self-fertile variety as your first tree as you can’t be sure of pollination otherwise. Once you have a self-fertile variety in your orchard, you can purchase any cherry in the same or neighbouring flowering group.

cherry pollination groups

Cherries are liable to cracking in heavy summer rains. Varieties with a resistance to cracking are recommended as you’ll receive an unblemished crop. Studies have shown that ‘Karina’ and ‘Regina’ exhibit high resistance and ‘Lapins’ moderate resistance.

Cooking (acid or sour) and dessert (sweet) cherries are actually different species: cerasus and avium respectively. They can still cross-pollinate, however.

Sweet cherries do not keep well and are best eaten fresh. This is why it is important to spread your orchard between early, mid and late cherries.

Unsurprisingly, traditional English varieties are actually from Continental Europe. Cherry production didn’t take off in England until the first half of the twentieth century.

Modern cherry varieties are primarily from Summerland research, Canada who started a self-fertile cherry program in the 1940s. They introduced the now classic Celeste, Stella, Sweetheart and Sunburst, which all start with an “S”-sound.

Cherries are often characterised as black or white, with black referring to the colour of the skin and white referring to the colour of the flesh. White flesh is associated with excellent flavour and common to traditional varieties. Black, or dark, skin is associated with modern varieties, which need be aesthetic.

Sometimes you will see cherries labelled Bigarreau, which refers to a firm-fleshed variety.

Cherries can be spherical or heart-shaped, although sometimes heart-shaped is broken down further.


Lapins (sometimes known as Cherokee) remains the cultivar of choice. It is self-fertile, productive and its fruits are resistant to cracking. Sunburst and Sweetheart make excellent alternatives and will produce bountiful crops of delicious fruit.


With cooking cherries, you have a choice of Morello and Nabella. Nabella is the new introduction, although Morello still retains RHS Award of Garden Merit. Both are self-fertile.

Dual Purpose

Look no further than May Duke, a self-fertile cross between acid and sweet cherries.

Best x Season

Celeste is the best self-fertile early season cherry.

Mid-season, you are spoilt for choice with Lapins, Stardust, Stella, and Sunburst.

Late season, there is a choice between Kordia and Sweetheart. Sweetheart has the best flavour.

For Small Gardens/Dwarf

Cherries with the dwarfing Gisela 5 rootstock are recommended for small gardens, which will produce a 3m tall tree. You can always prune your tree to reduce its size. Alternatively, buy a cordon tree, which is trained to produce a columnar shape.

Petit Noir, Hartland and Celeste are all naturally compact. Sylvia is as well, but isn’t self-fertile.


Napoleon Bigarreau, Stardust Coveu and White Heart are all white cherries. Stardust is unique in that it is self-fertile. All these varieties have exceptional taste.

Cold Areas

Cherries with the Colt rootstock is recommended for cold areas as Colt produces a tree higher from the ground. Be sure to plant your tree in full sun!

Developed in the UK at the John Innes Research Station, Summer Sun makes an excellent choice for colder areas of the UK.


Lapins and Sweetheart are exceptionally productive cultivars. It is best to combine these varieties with Colt as Gisela 5 can overbear, leading to poor quality fruit.

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

See all of Jorge’s posts.

How To, Jorge, Plants, Trees

Both pears and quinces are grafted onto quince rootstocks, such as “Quince A”, “Quince C”, and “Quince Eline”. The rootstocks that exert the greatest dwarfing effect will produce a 2.5-3m tall pear tree and 3m tall quince.

What Are Rootstocks?

A scion grafted onto a rootstock.

Most fruit trees are produced from two trees attached or grafted together, with the bottom part composing the roots known as the rootstock and the top part composing the crown, which can be any variety, providing it’s compatible. You can see where they have been attached at the graft point located at the bottom of the stem. For the most part, the above ground tree remains unaffected, so a Concorde pear attached to a rootstock will always produce Concorde pears.

Rootstocks are selected for their interactions with the soil. Often rootstocks exert a dwarfing effect on the tree it’s attached, producing a tree smaller than it would be if left to grow on its own roots. Rootstocks produce smaller trees as they are worse at absorbing nutrients and water from the soil than conventional roots. While this may sound like a negative, it is actually a huge positive. Trees with dwarfing rootstocks produce earlier in their lives and put more resources into fruiting. Their branches are at a more manageable height and the tree’s ultimate size better suited to the average-sized garden.

Rootstocks don’t just affect size and precociousness (time to fruit), but also disease resistance and hardiness. In the UK, we have comparatively mild winters to other countries, so aren’t interested in cold hardiness.

Rootstocks can be of a completely different species to the plant it is grafted as in the case of quinces and pears. Indeed quinces are in a completely different genus altogether, but are in the same family Rosaceae.

Pear/Quince Rootstock History

In the early 1900s East Malling Research began their project of collecting and labelling traditional rootstocks. They knew that farmers in the Angers region of France used quince as pear rootstocks and brought them over to England. They tested them, finding loads of different rootstocks and categorised them by letter: A, B, C and so on. They found that they were easy to propagate and produced good yields, and have been used ever since. It’s perfectly feasible that more pear/quince rootstocks may emerge. “Quince Eline” is actually a new introduction from Holland, selected for its hardiness.

Testing Rootstocks

As with any major outlay it’s always worth testing multiple varieties on multiple rootstocks. You can never be sure how a rootstock will perform in local conditions.

Pear/Quince Tree Rootstocks A-Z

Every rootstock produces a similar dwarfing effect on both pears and quinces, but quinces end up slightly larger.


Kirchensaller is a pear rootstock that produces a tree to the same height as a seedling. Such rootstocks are used to create specimen trees, or can be used to add vigour to naturally small varieties.

Quince A

Quince A produces trees 3-4m high, about 50-66% of the size of a tree grown on its own roots. Quince trees end up around 3.5-4m.

Quince Eline/C

Quince Eline produces trees 2.5-3m high, about 40-50% of the size of a tree grown on its own roots. Quince trees end up around 3m.

Quince C exerts a similar dwarfing effect to Eline. Eline differs slightly to C in that it reduces fruit russeting and produces a slightly more erect form.


A tree grown on its own roots, and therefore not attached to a rootstock, is known as a seedling. A pear on its own roots tend to grow to about 6m, quince about the same.

Rootstock Spacing

Quince Eline needs 2.5m between trees, Quince A 4m and Seedling 6-8m between trees.

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

See all of Jorge’s posts.

How To, Mandy, Planting, Plants

Bamboo can do well in containers, even some of the more vigorous, running types, although the slower-spreading clumpers are the best choices.

It’s important to remember your chosen variety will only get as tall as the pot’s size will let it – a a good guide is about 50% to 75% of its maximum height in open ground.

It will also be less hardy but as most cultivars are very hardy, this shouldn’t pose a problem in the UK.

Caring For Bamboo In Pots

It will also require much more watering in the summer – as much as once a day during extreme heat, usually every 2-3 days.

Bamboo needs feeding most in summer when it is producing new stems. As bamboo is a grass, it requires a high-nitrogen feed, (10 per cent or more) – a controlled-release fertiliser will save you time, applying it in spring.

Bamboo will need to be divided or transplanted regularly to stop it from becoming root-bound. With clumpers, you can leave them a maximum of six years in a large 50-55cm container; runners will need to be divided every three-five years. This is a difficult job, as the pots are heavy and the plant bulky – get friends to help!

Planting In Pots

When it comes to container size, the bigger the better. If you want planter boxes, 46cmx46cmx46cm is the smallest to use for permanent use. Bamboo can fill whatever space it is given; a long, narrow planter, will produce a long, narrow screen, of moderate height.

Use well draining high-quality potting soil and make sure the pot has good drainage holes.

Bamboo can be grown in smaller pots but will need to be repotted every year. Don’t use tall, top-heavy or blow vase-shaped containers, as bamboo blows over easily.

Metal troughs alone are not a good idea, as the roots bake in summer and freeze in winter. Line it with bamboo barrier fabric or old carpet to act as insulation and drill extra drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

Best Bamboo Varieties For Containers

Avoid large runners; smaller runners will grow better in containers and clumpers can do very well but need partial shade. Good runners include Pseudosasa japonica, Phyllostachys aureosulcata, P. nigra, and P. aurea will produce interesting, compact nodes at the base.

For clumping bamboo, most Fargesia will make a good display, with a fountain-shaped plume of foliage.

Groundcover varieties like Sasa make short, bushy container accents. Fargesia and Sasa varieties will need afternoon shade, or the leaves will burn.

Mandy at PrimroseMandy Watson is a freelance journalist who runs

A plantaholic with roots firmly planted in working-class NE England, she aims to make gardening more accessible to the often excluded – the less able, the hard-up or beginners.

Advocate of gardening for better mental health.

See all of Mandy’s posts.

Container Gardening, Garden Design, Gardening, Guest Posts, How To, Indoor

While you may have had a good-sized home with great landscaping both indoors and out, now you have downsized and moved to a much smaller apartment. Outdoor landscaping is not your domain anymore, and you have to now deal with a small indoor space. You do want it to look larger, you don’t want to infringe upon your living areas, but you really want lots of plants. What’s the answer to this dilemma? An indoor vertical garden!

What’s a Vertical Garden?

A vertical garden is a garden that grows upward (vertically) using a trellis or other support system, rather than on the ground (horizontally).

There are many ways to install a vertical garden in your small apartments and following are some of our favorites. Whether you live in a small Auburn, Alabama apartment or a huge city like London, you can still find ways to make it work!


While Mississippi John Hurt wrote a famous song called “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor,” we want you to use a recycled pallet and install in on a wall. Then, cut our small areas and insert plants. This won’t take up much space but will add a nice splash of green to the wall it’s installed upon.

Leather or Wood Garden

You construct this by using a piece of plywood and either leaving it natural or covering it with leather—or plastic if you choose—and installing it floor to ceiling. Then, add a triangular expanding trellis and place small potted plants at nice intervals. This really adds outdoor charm indoors.

Wall Frame Garden

An old square wooden frame can be fixed to a wall and succulents that don’t use much water can be planted in it. You may need some netting or a screen behind the frame, but a lot of multicolored succulents can help hold in the soil and add cheeriness to the room.


Steel mesh that you buy at a big-box home improvement center is another great option. Just run this from floor to ceiling also, get some hooks, and hang pre-potted greenery wherever it looks appropriate. Even sparsely covered mesh adds green to your room.

Vertical Air Plant Garden

To make one of these, place a three-quarter inch piece of plywood on a wall. Then hammer in nails in a triangular or square pattern and connect them with string. Next, buy a plant like tillandsia that can get most of its nutrients from the air without being planted in soil. With this scheme, you’ll have living plants that need little care, hardly any water and little further maintenance, but they will make your wall come alive with beautiful green hues.


Wooden shelves that look like outdoor planter boxes are a favorite of ours. If you have a little more space, you can extend these out a few inches. If not, they can be installed close to the wall with enough room for a couple inches of soil. Philodendrons will look very since in this setup.

Shoe-hanger Garden

OK, so you aren’t good at building things, you don’t do well with hammers, and you have no idea how to pound in patterned nails and attach string. Don’t worry, though, because something called a shoe-hanger that you can buy at a charity shop will come to your rescue. Instead of hanging shoes on it, however, fill the pouches with soil and plant appropriate indoor plants. You can get this job done in minutes and you’ll have a wonderful indoor garden.

Are You Crafty?

If you are, check out this idea. Buy some two-liter soft drink bottles, and after you emptied them, cut them off about four inches from the top. Place the cut-off bottles neck-down on a wood rectangle and fasten them with a modified twisty-tie to the wood. Make sure you leave some room between them. Next, place soil into the bottles—they should look sort of like a funnel—and plant herbs like cilantro and parsley in them.  Now, mount the wood on a wall and water very carefully so that you don’t get your floors wet. You’ve got an inexpensive and nice-looking vertical garden that will make you smile.

Vertical gardening is an excellent way to save space in your small apartment. Primrose can help you choose the right plants as you explain exactly what you are doing, and you’ll see that for a very small investment you can bring outdoor beauty indoors.

Love these ideas, but not the hassle of making them? Primrose has an excellent range of quirky indoor planters, in all the trendy colours from copper to matt white.