Apple Grafting New York

This website has been incredibly helpful. I was hoping to find the advice from local grafters. This is my 5th year grafting and was hoping to start getting better results. ( I still haven’t gotten an apple to grow so wont know if I’m doing this all correctly) I normally graft onto M.111 and then place my newly grafted trees in soil and keep in my basement. I water them and I believe that might be part of my problem that I over water for them being just inside healing. I am going to try planting them in containers with peat moss this year to see if my results are better. Any advice or tips from people would be greatly appreciated. Most of my scions normally leaf out but I lose a lot before they leaf out. I have used electrical tape in the past to get a good seal on then parafilm, but I do not like the electrical tape as i feel it hurts the wood. TYIA

Black tape stimulates Auxin production. I would not ever use it on grafts. It will start root growing on the graft union.

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Also what do people use if any fertilizer on young apple trees. Not so much newly grafted trees, but trees a year to 3 years old?

I’m sorry, some of the most experienced grafters on this site use black tape regularly with no ill side effects.


Depends on the soil.

I use a 5-10-10 or a 3-6-8. To much nitrogen can cause issues.

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To each their own. Black tape is a goto method of creating roots on branches.

I pot up multiple completed grafts in a tub with holes in the bottom, and that gets set upon a couple pieces of wood to elevate it, and all of that sits in one of those plastic cement mixing trays to collect any water that drains through.

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How loose is the soil you keep em in? You could easily damage the callus if handling them/pulling them out of soil? I think a lot of folks like storing em in something like sawdust in a big container with a lid while callusing. The sawdust holds moisture that keeps the trees from desiccating obviously- If you think you might be overwating the dirt, this might fix that issue.

Im guessing your basement is plenty cool to get the nice callus temps for apples. What type of grafting are you doing? Something like rubber splicing tape or electrical tape might be needed to hold things in place- the splicing tape will split on its own after a few months if you are against straight electrical tape.

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I normally use whatever bagged I have laying around. I can mix it this year with some sand or vermiculite. My basement is about 50 degrees. I try to do W&T or cleft grafts. When I use the electrical tape it normally pulls the wood on the graft. I don’t think my issue is grafting as I think I do a decent job matching up Cambium layer and most the scions bloom. I think it’s the after care that hurts me

Why graft and put in the basement? Why not just keep outside? is the weather too cold when you are grafting?

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I normally graft mid March here in the Hudson Valley. I’m always worried about grafting and planting out while dormant.

Im in the upper hudson valley of NY. The things I found gave me the best results were:
1.) Using just parafilm tape to wrap/seal my grafts. Stretch it as tight as it will go without breaking. This takes practice.
2.) Wrap the whole scion with parafilm. This prevents it from drying out while healing.
3.) Wait to graft until at least a few buds on your rootstock have woken up are expanding. You want your scion completely dormant still. This ensures that when the scion wakes up, the resources it needs to heal up are already available from the rootstock.
4.) Make flat, clean cuts to your scion and rootstock to ensure you get good cambium to cambium contact. Make sure your knife is super sharp and you know how to cut with it safely. The youtube channel Skillcult has an excellent grafting series with videos on these subjects. I also find tailoring the knife to the cut helps. For example, when whip and tongue grafting, I use a single bevel knife to make the angled cut across scion and rootstock. To cut the tongue I use a double beveled Opinel blade. I use the opinel for cleft grafts as well.

When I started doing all these things my take percent went to at least 95% in a given year.


I’m on another continent. But in a similar climate zone. (7-8)

I just burry the rootstocks (plant in a group) outside.
Around February i look at the weather predictions. And if no big freeze is predicted (-4 Celsius ~25 F) i dig up my rootstocks. Bench graft them. And plant them in ground where i want them to grow for that season.

Apple grafts heal fine at lower temperatures (start healing around 5 Celsius). (i don’t do my prunus/stone fruit grafts in feb) and a slight freeze usually does not hurt them.

Do you get hard freezes from end of February onwards? How about march/april?
I prefer just bench grafting and than planting. If had busy years in the past, where i dug out rootstocks to graft in april. Rubbed off the young leaves of the rootstock. Bench grafted them and then planted out. They did fine. Although i did have to rub off rootstock growth once or twice after planting to force the graft to grow and not the rootstock.

Peat/potting soil can quickly become to wet, especially in a damp dark place without much fresh air. That can become a problem. (root rot)
Mixing something like perlite (larger sizes) can help aerate the potting mix. You could also wet the potting mix appropriately (when you squeeze a handful only a little water (drops) should fall out) fill the pot. And weigh it on a scale. That way if you think you need to water you can weigh and see if you truly need to water the young grafts.

Do you have Parafilm M ? Or something else (that’s basically not parafilm at all, but gets falsely sold as it)

If you have Parafilm M, i would use just that. You can easily wrap most parts of the graft 5+ times. And get a tight fit that way. In my experiments up to 5 layers, most buds could still get trough. But i usually don’t wrap more than 1-3 times over the bud i want to grow.


Which Auxins?

I have used black tape, Masking tape, strips cut from bread bags and grocery bags, Wide rubber bands with overlap with each wrap, and plumbers Teflon tape. I use what ever I can find when its needed.

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It is common to first graft, then wrap the graft and scion with parafilm, then overwrap the graft section with splicing tape.



I might have to try this method thank you

For grafts that need extra support I like budding rubbers over parafilm. They do have to be cut off (I usually do so in early July) but they don’t have any issues with sticking to tender bark.


that’s how i do it also. the elect. tape gives it strength until healed and keeps the graft pulled tightly together so it has more contact points and better take rate. i remove both at the end of summer.

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It is fairly standard in “own root” methods of one of several ways to produce new roots.