Rootstocks used to control tree size have been used in apple cultivation for over 2,000 years. Dwarfing rootstocks were probably discovered by chance in Asia. Alexander the Great sent samples of dwarf apple trees back to his teacher, Aristotle in Greece. They were maintained at the Lyceum, a center of learning in Greece.
Most modern apple rootstocks were bred in the 20th century. Much research into the existing rootstocks was begun at the East Malling Research Station in Kent, England. Following that research, Malling worked with the John Innes Institute and Long Ashton to produce a series of different rootstocks with disease resistance and a range of different sizes, which have been used all over the world.