2019 Grafting Thread


Thanks, the red is special grafting compound and the white is normal water based paint.


So here’s my persimmon, I did 2 grafts early in the spring and then 2 more a few weeks later. One of the early ones never did anything, the other swelled a bud but then it fell off and I thought it was a goner. The 2 later ones took off fine, but then the one that had dropped its bud pushed out more and looks like a take! The first 2 were oldschool, brad nails and tin foil :slight_smile:

I have a couple questions about the tree.

  1. Are Asian persimmons less hardy when growing vigorously? This is Tam Kam on D. lotus.

  2. If the chances of winter survival are better with less vigor, should I cut the other 2 trunks during summer to try and slow the tree down? Would that reduce growth by reducing foliage or just cause the grafts to grow even more?


My 3 pawpaw grafts are very slowly emerging. It seems like you have to be really patient before you give up on these guys. Last year’s did the same thing, but it took and is doing a nice job of growing out now. I expect it will be useful for cross-pollinating next year.


I’ve been grafting a bit for a few years, but my success rate is consistently pretty low, and I’m hoping for some feedback on some things I think I might be doing wrong. Would really appreciate it.

First, I’m in Calgary: southern Canada, high altitude east of mountains, very dry climate, late springs. We have frost danger until late May. We had periods of sub-20% humidity for a while this spring, and flowering was late: we’re just in prime lilac season now,

I do cleft and whip-and-tongue grafts, all on a few apple trees: some to keep some heritage apples in the family, and also to try to force a certain gifted apple tree that stubbornly refuses to even flower. Both methods work, neither very well.

I’ve tried various waxes and tapes. Ordered some supposed parafilm tape a couple of years ago, hated it: zero stick, zero stretch. I mean zero. Awful stuff. I have rubber electrical tape I like much better: good seal, good stretch. Also have some of the green vinyl tape, it’s not bad but it’s narrow. This year I used some commercial hot grafting wax using the candle-in-a-can warming trick. The trick worked, but…

I suspect I’m taking too skinny of scions – I can never find any first-year wood as thick as I would like. 1/8 to 3/16 inch is about it. Would I be better off using second-year wood for scions instead?

It seems to me the scions just dry out in our dry climate, waiting for the host to bud out. I try to do the grafts just before bud-out, but we can get a shot of cold weather and there goes another 2 or 3 weeks. I noticed that a cleft graft that took off was on host stock that really sprouted up this spring just after flowering,

Collecting scions is tricky, timing-wise. I try to wait until a couple of weeks before bud-out. Sometimes a little late, and I grab them quick then. But if I take them too early it seems they dry out in the baggie in the fridge, even with a slightly damp bit of paper towel. I tried waxing whole scions last year, but that didn’t seem to help either.

Kind of wondering if using that black pruning spray or “Wilt-Pruf” spray might help reduce drying out,.

I was pretty sure I was getting decent cambium line-up. Last year I though I might have messed up using custom soft grafting wax with too much linseed oil seeping into the contact, so didn’t use that this year. Not sure it helped. I’m probably going to do some post mortems on a few in a while; not sure how long to wait.

So… not sure. Graft mechanics, skinny scions, weather, scion or graft timing, tape technique, bad wax choice, scion waxing… what do you think?

– Ken W


To start with, that doesn’t sound like the real thing - or else it was too cold to stretch properly. Parafilm must be stretched in order to stick to itself. I’d recommend that you obtain a new/fresh supply from a reputable source, and then make sure that it’s at least room temperature when you’re working with it. (If it’s sunny, let it lie in the sun a bit before you start working.)

Once you have usable parafilm, make sure that you wrap the entire scion reasonably tightly - tight enough to prevent it from drying out. Buds will push right through it when they swell.

Definitely use grafting rubbers or rubber bands to make the graft itself tight and mechanically secure, as this will help keep the graft properly aligned and provide some pressure to aid in callusing. If you use regular rubber bands, cut them once the graft has obviously callused and has put on significant growth. Grafting rubbers are usually formulated to break down on their own within a season, but I still cut them off within a few months.

These two details - wrapping the whole scion with parafilm and using grafting rubbers for a tight union - have made all the difference in my apple grafting success rate.


Here’s the brand you want. 3 M parafilm.

This is the grade I use very stretchy.


I agree with Jerry. Wrapping the entire scion in parafilm makes a big difference, especially if you have problems with them drying out.


I agree with @tjasko
And @jerry
And @mamuang
Parafilm is some good stuff .
Learning to use it properly is a skill in it self.
The parafilm M that mamuang suggested is a better grade.
Thicker , stretches more with out breaking, that the thinner grafting grade.
I have got some bad rolls.
Parafilm does not stick like adhesive tape.
It sticks like wax. And must be warm, stretched , wrapped tight and rubbed with a warm hand to get it to stick, ( at least in a cold wind )
if stretched when cold it will often just break.
It does seem to keep the scionwood from drying,very well.
And it sounds like you need protection from low humidity


Ken, I’m just south of you in Spokane. I grafted stone fruit (apricots, pluots, european plums, and peaches) this year for the first time ever with pretty good success rates. I think our climates are similarly dry, so I suspect (if you follow everyone’s advice and seal the scion well in parafilm) climate is not the issue. I did find that I had much better success with thicker scions and much worse with really thin scions (maybe because they are more difficult to work with? - not sure). I’m no expert, but I hope this helps.


I prefer 3/8 to 1/2" diameter scions when I can get them.


“I prefer 3/8 to 1/2” diameter scions when I can get them."

So are you saying that it’s better to use older (e.g. 2nd year) rather than to insist on last year’s wood only? I read that it’s best to use the youngest wood I can for scions, but last years’ wood is so skinny. I have never tried anything older.


Last years growth is usually best for scions. The supply of larger caliper scions is certainly less abundant, especially for nonprofessionals.


Hey, I really appreciate all the feedback and suggestions, folks! Sounds like dryness protection is the key.

It’s beyond me how a person can stretch rubber bands around the end of scions without messing up alignment or even breaking them. The “rubber” tape I use is called self-fusing silicone tape, great elastic strength, sticks to itself strongly. See https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/fusion-pro-self-fusing-black-silicone-tape-0670023p.html

It definitely appears that the clear plastic crap I got was not parafilm or anything like it. Really appreciate the clarification. I don’t see how I can control the weather for warmth when I use parafilm – our springs are generally quite a lot cooler than Spokane, although similarly dry – but the usage tip is great.

The genuine Parafilm M is pricey, this stuff https://www.amazon.ca/Grafting-Self-Adhesive-Bonsai-Garden-Flowers/dp/B07GB5KJ4B ![image|520x520] looks good at 1/3 the cost. Hmmm… fool me twice…

Just out of curiosity, has anyone here tried the pruning sprays or Wilt-Pruf? It’s probably too late to rescue this years’ failures-to-launch anyway. Oh well, thanks all!


It’s not really required that the weather be warm; the important thing is that the parafilm not be cold and brittle. Store it indoors before working with it, and keep it in a warm pocket if it’s cold outside.

Regarding rubber bands: grafting rubbers are linear strips, and folks who use regular rubber bands cut them to make strips as well. You simply wrap these around the graft with sufficient tension to provide some compression, but not so much as to damage or misalign your work. You wrap over the starting end to hold it in place, and tuck the finishing end under the final loop to secure it. It’s easier than it sounds. If you like your tape, and it keeps the joint tight and secure, then it’s likely just as good.

I like to put the grafting rubbers over the sealing parafilm, though I believe that folks do it the other way as well. I’d think that you’d want to put your tape over the parafilm, too, to make it easier (and safer) to remove.


I’ve used “self vulcanizing” tape on plumbing leaks before and have wondered how it would work for sealing grafts.

What really helped me a lot this year was sealing with wax. I got a cheap toilet wax ring and heated it, and painted it on. All over the scion, over the parafilm I had wrapped around rootstock/scion, etc… I believe this helped to keep the scion from drying out, improving my success rate. 100% this year (29 grafts), although 3 have since died. Birds or wind broke the graft unions I suspect…


This year’s grafting is pathetic. My easiest pear grafting taking rate is very low. I have to blame on winter damage on branch and the scion I collected. Both E . and
J.Plum is on average. Apricot was 100% take. However my sweet cherry taking rate was surprising low comparing to its last year’s. The esiest became the hardest this year. We had extremely cold winter, cold and wet spring and are having cool and wet summer , temperatures are around 70+ most of days. I am still grating peaches.
What I found another major fact that influences taking rate in my yard, beside of graft temperature, is the type of the rootstock. I have very high take rate on grafting scions onto readleaf plum. Almost every grafts, peach, plum, apricot, pluot etc. easily took. For most plum, peach trees, I have to line up the scion so carefully, precisely in order to have a successful graft result. Even so the failure rate is still high for peaches. It seems to me , even a casual graft, not pay closer attention to the line up, size matching, parafilm wrapping etc. still achieve a successful graft result, way way easier on redleaf plum.


I will blame rootstock on zero take for apricot graft too… Cherry turned out to be my luckiest one this year. I notice that my peach tree had hard time to leaf out most likely due to extreme cold winter this year. All peach and plum grafted on that tree last year died after the winter , none of new grafts on peach tree made it. Similar story for apricot. Only a couple of leaves now…


What you did is sensical.

When you reduce the rootstock in some way that provides more energy toward the scion.

If a scion continues to grow past a time when it should’ve stopped to begin forming from juvenile (actively-growing) cells to mature cells, then early Fall/Winter frosts will do damage to any tissue that has not had the proper preparation/time necessary to become fully hardened tissue ready for what is thrown at it. This will apply across the board for hardwoods in climates that go below freezing.


I grafted a two year old Winesap scion this spring. It is a sprig about 8 inches long and has some dormant buds on it. So far it hasn’t done anything, but the bark is very soft and if you scratch it it is quite green, so I think the graft took. Will it do anything this year yet, is there hope for it in the spring?


Did you graft it low on a larger tree? If it is not dominating the rest of the growth it could take but not sprout.