“Fruit Cocktail” is a common name for trees that have more than one variety budded or growing on them. They are also called “3N1” or “Combo Trees”. Since they are such a specialty, Grandpa’s does not always have them available. They take a lot of extra work to produce, so when a supplier offers them, we scoop them up and make them available for our customers.

Combination trees usually have at least 3 varieties budded and growing on the main stem. Often, more varieties will be budded to reduce the chance of failures. Sometimes you will end up with quite a surprise, getting a tree that may have 4 or possibly more varieties at once! Apples will only be budded to apples, and plums only to plums though! Don’t expect apples and plums to be on the same tree! Unfortunately, that is just not possible.

Combination trees take some special care. Plant like you would an ordinary tree, but you need to be careful to nurture each variety differently and in a special way. Since not all varieties have the same vigor, there is a tendency for one variety to be more vigorous than some others and try to “take over” the tree. Likewise, one variety will also end up the weakest, and if not taken care of properly, it will be overwhelmed by the more vigorous varieties and die off. Watch the growth of each variety (and branch), so that you may prune it accordingly, to encourage as much equal growth as possible.

A Little History about Apple 3N1 Combo Tree

Grafting multiple varieties onto one tree has been done for hundreds of years. Usually, it is the fruit hobbyist or enthusiast that do it, because they love to see how to grow many different varieties they can grow at once. Other reasons may include limited space in their garden, or only having only a few trees to work with in the orchard. Either way, it’s a labor of love and they are usually only propagated in the nursery trade for backyard growers versus commercial growers.

Growing and Maintenance Tips

Growing a combo tree can be a good alternative to having several different trees in your backyard orchard, especially if you have limited space. Combo trees require more maintenance than other fruit tree’s do, with all the pruning expectations, but it’s worth it. If you are a beginning backyard orchardist, do not be afraid to try fruit cocktail varieties, they can be very rewarding in the long run.

3N1 Combo Apple Trees

You may have more than three live varieties budded to them, but Grandpa markets them all as 3N1s. So, if you end up with 4 or more, you are lucky, because there is no extra charge!

The choice is yours, just remember to select a combination that will typically be suitable for your Hardiness Zone.

Suitable for Zones 4-7

3N1 EASTERN Apple Combo — May have three or more of McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Cortland, Wolf River and Lodi

Suitable for Zones 5-8

3N1 MIDWESTERN Apple Combo— May have three or more of Gala, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Honeycrisp and Granny Smith

Suitable for Zones 3-7

3N1 NORTHERN Apple Combo— May have three or more of Duchess, Lodi, Sweet Sixteen, Zestar and State Fair

Suitable for Zones 5-8

3N1 WESTERN Apple Combo— May have three or more of Gala, Honeycrisp, Liberty, Red Gravenstein and Chehalis

Watch how each variety grows. Overly vigorous varieties can be summer pruned to remove some of their vigor. Be careful about not over pruning them in the dormant season which will only invigorate them. Let the weaker varieties grow all summer and try as best as you can to maintain a balance within the tree of all the varieties.

3N1 Combo Plum Trees

Suitable for Zones 4-8

3N1 COLD HARDY Plum Combo— May have three or more of Stanley, Italian, Toka, Pipestone, Mount Royal

Suitable for Zones 5-8

3N1 NORMAL Plum Combo— May have three or more of Stanley, Italian, Santa Rosa, Satsuma, Friar

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