How to Graft an Apple Tree

Опубликовал Admin
3-04-2021, 17:10
Grafting trees involves combining a bottom rootstock of one tree to the scion, or budding branch, of another tree to make a successful fruit tree. Apple trees are often considered the best starting place for learning to graft trees. Apple seeds, once planted, don’t produce fruit that is identical to the apple they came from so grafting allows you to reproduce the apples of our choice. Start with this method of branch grafting and practice your cuts until you make a successful graft.

Picking Rootstock

  1. Plant apple trees that are known to grow well in your area. The rootstock must be hardy in your area. You can plant an apple tree from seedling to use as rootstock, but you will have to wait several years to create a sturdy plant.
    • Rootstock must be suited to your climate and local insects.
  2. Opt to purchase rootstock in place of seedlings. Ask your local nursery about purchasing rootstock. This is the best way to ensure your type of rootstock is well suited to grafting.
    • Discuss the varieties of scion that work well with the type of rootstock you buy when you purchase the stock from the nursery.
  3. Plant rootstock in pots until you are ready to use it. Keep it moist, in cool conditions through the winter. Although rootstock is sold when it is a few years old, it can be purchased just before you graft.
  4. Ensure your rootstock and scion will be compatible in diameter. The diameters of the branches have to match; however a graft with a thinner scion might be successful, as well.
  5. Buy several root stocks at once. Grafting success increases with practice, so you may need to cut several scion and rootstock branches before you are successful.

Cutting Scions

  1. Cut scion branches in the fall or winter. You can store them until the next spring, when they will be ready to bud and plant. You want to have scion branches that are harvested above freezing but when the apple tree has already fallen dormant.
  2. Snip one year old branches from apple trees. Use sharp shears. Wash the shears with alcohol before harvesting different types of scions.
  3. Choose scion branches that have three or more buds and are one-quarter inch (0.6cm) thick.
  4. Opt to purchase scions instead of harvesting them yourself. Nurseries or mail order services can send you scion branches to store until you are ready to graft.
  5. Moisten some sawdust or sphagnum moss. Place it in a large freezer bag. Add the scions to the plastic bag to store in the refrigerator until you are ready to graft.
  6. Open and spray the bag with water occasionally to ensure your scions do not dry out.

Bench Grafting Apple Trees

  1. Graft your apple trees early in the spring just before the buds of the rootstock tree are ready to open. This is often between April and May, but will depend greatly on your climate.
  2. Choose a rootstock that is one-fourth inch (0.6cm) thick. It should be the same size as your scion.
  3. Plan to cut the end of the rootstock at an upward angle. Then, you will cut the end of the scion at a downward angle so that the remaining buds are above the grafted section.
  4. Clip off the bottom of the scion, above where the branch has died. Use clean, sharp shears. You need to expose fresh, green cells or cambium on both scion and rootstock to graft successfully.
  5. Sharpen your grafting knife or paring knife. A sharp knife increases the chances of a graft.
  6. Cut the bottom of the scion at an acute angle downward. The cut should be approximately one inch (2.5cm) in length. Ensure you have three good buds above the cut.
  7. Make a corresponding cut in the top of the rootstock. Cut upward at an acute angle. When you place the two branches together, they fit together as though they were one branch.
  8. Cut tongues in each end. This allows the cambium cells to contact each other on at least two points. They slide together to form a sturdy union.
    • Cut the rootstock tongue groove approximately one-third the way down the previous cut. You will need to cut downward, in the opposite direction of your previous cut, to make an interlocking groove.
    • Cut the scion stock one-third the way down in an upward angle.
    • Rock the knife down the grove slowly so that it doesn’t slip and you don’t cut yourself.
  9. Interlock the tongues between the rootstock and the scion. You will need to slowly slide the cambium, or green portion of one branch, into the cambium of the other branch. The grafted portion should be fairly stable.
  10. Wrap the conjoined area with floral tape or masking tape. Leave the end sticking out so that you don’t need to cut through the grafted area to free it when the graft starts to grow.
  11. Paint the tape with parafilm or grafting wax.
  12. Snip the scion above the top, third, bud at a 45-degree angle. Seal the top with wax as well.
  13. Label the scion immediately, so that you know what you have grafted.

Planting Grafted Trees

  1. Plant the rootstock in pots. Keep them in a cool, moist area. They can also be packed into sphagnum moss in a plastic bag and moistened until they are planted.
  2. Store them in a temperature between 36 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit (2.2 to 5.5 degrees Celsius). They will need to remain in this climate for two to four weeks.
  3. Plant your rootstock in a safe place where you can watch the trees carefully for signs of insects, deer or other damage. It should be in full sunlight.
  4. Remove any shoots that extend from the rootstock. You want the scion to flourish, but you don’t want the rootstock to take over.
    • At first, you can leave some leaves on the rootstock so that nutrients keep flowing up the tree until the graft is successful. However, if you see an actual branch start to form on the trunk of the rootstock, remove it; this will help encourage the scion to grow.
    • Once the scion really starts to grow and new leaves appear above the graft, remove any further growths from the rootstock, below the graft. This removal will help the plant thrive with growth on the scion, rather than the rootstock. The rootstock will keep trying to grow its own branches, and you need to remove them for as long as the tree lives.


  • In some cases, you can graft several scions onto an older, sturdy rootstock to produce several varieties of apples.
  • This type of branch graft is also called the “whip and tongue” graft.

Things You'll Need

  • Apple tree rootstock
  • Apple tree scion
  • Paring knife
  • Parafilm/grafting wax
  • Floral tape/masking tape
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