Apples tree grafting: Multiple scions on first year rootstock

Great to hear!
I’ll probably aim to go with two side grafts, if possible, and fall back to @oscar suggestion of bud grafting if side/clefts look unfeasible.

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that hormone is called auxine. The same group of hormones that encourage root growth discourages shoot growth.

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That’s awesome to learn the specific hormone responsible, thanks!

if also done multiple varieties in a single cleft grafts. You have to be careful though to not push them inwards while tying/wrapping. That way the cambium is not longer aligned. And especially on thin rootstock it won’t always easily fit, especially if your scions aren’t super thin. Same goes for side grafts, can get tricky.

If found chip buds easiest to execute especially on young rootstocks. Compared to other grafting methods. The fact that you can also select the most dormant/best looking buds. And can do more grafts from a small scion stick. Are just bonuses in my eye’s

Scorring (cutting a smal line ABOVE the bud/graft) is also a good way to force grafts to wake up. It’s not a 100% reliable though.

pinching new growth has also helped me, wake up more “sleeping” grafts. Although you might need to repeat it a few times.

watering enough so there is enough active root growth also should help wake up more buds/create more side branches.

that’s part of the tree’s natural balancing system. If it has more root size than aboveground size, you get a hormonal imbalance that benefits shoot/side growth. This also helps wake up dormant grafts. If the tree above ground is “larger” then the roots. that increases root growth while slowing down aboveground growth (both elongation of already growing shoots as wel as formation of side branches/shoots)

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That’s great advice.
OK, perhaps I’ll plan for bud grafting as my primary graft! Time to start watching as many bud grafting videos as I can find, hahaha

I get over 90% takes…actually well over 95% if one takes and the other doesn’t…on putting 2 scions in a cleft of a benchgraft.

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I’ve got ~20 total scions coming, and only around 10 rootstocks, so I might try doing both and see what successes I have.

Really encouraging to hear that people using both methods are having a good run of it though!


that’s a good idea. There is a large chance though if you do both on the same rootstock, the chip bud grafts will heal and take. But not leaf out. Since the cleft is higher on the stock and exerts apical dominance.

Thus the not leafing out would not be because of the type of graft. But more the placement (spot higher on the rootstock) of the graft.

@blueberry yea that sound good. Cleft grafts can have really high takes.
When i taught a few people to graft i often saw them push both scions in while tying/wrapping the double cleft graft. If you’ve done a few or know what to look out for, you’ll be fine. I mentioned it, not to discount cleft grafts. Just as advice to pay extra attention while wrapping to not push the scions into the middle of the cleft.


Yes, agree with all above, if the rootstock is large enough in diameter and close to scion diameter, you can do whip & tongue on the top, then as many double tongue side grafts as you can do coming down the trunk and spaced around the perimeter to balance the tree. I get above 70% on both for apples, plums, and peaches. Always do top first, then progress down and around the trunk so that you do not disturb the grafts already done. Here is a video:
Website for various graft type illustrations to include side tongue grafts:

Good luck
Kent, wa

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I can see that…
my self, I run the grafting tape through between the scions of a cleft graft if there is room, and I don’t Wrap higher on the scionwood…getting the seal with wax and the tape holding the scions tight in place. So, I avoid the potential problem you bring up. But it is something to be cognizant of!


Great advice for what to watch out for!
I was thinking more along the lines of chip budding some and cleft/side grafting others, not both techniques on the same rootstock (much for the reasons you outlined!)

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My question would be , why would you want multiple scions on first year rootstock ?
I think most rootstock are best grafted just a few inches above ground, to prevent issues like burr knots.
Having two varieties branch close to the ground is hard to manage.
Most multi variety trees have varieties added at 3-4ft .hight on scaffold branches , with a single clear trunk below.
Unless this is for a espalier ?
Or just temporary storage of varieties ?
Or multiple chances to have grafts to take ?
What is your end goal here ?

He had few roots and lots of scions going to waste…as I understood his problem.

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@Hillbillyhort :
@BlueBerry is correct, check out the first post where I detail it fully, but the TL;DR is: I’d ordered 20 scions (from one nursery) and 20 rootstocks (from a separate nursery), assuming 1 scion per rootstock, only for the rootstock supplier to cut my order in half citing shortages.

Perfect world, I would prefer each on their own, more room for each fruit to grow, less chance an issue harms any more than the single affected tree, etc, etc. But as it stands, if I don’t try 2 on each, I’ll just lose half of my scions (not wildly expensive, but would make me pretty sad!)

Like one of your questions suggests this is likely to be temporary storage, and I’ll be grafting them off next year to their own rootstocks, but need them alive until then, haha.

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Do you have a mature tree you can “park” the scions on? That’s what I did a few years ago when I had more scion than rootstock.

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Unfortunately not, I’ve asked all friends and family (and even most work colleagues) if they have an apple tree, without success…

I live in a city that can get pretty cold during winter, but on the whole is not considered traditional apple country for my region (Toowoomba, Qld, Australia, for those interested, most apple folk are in a more southern town called Stanthorpe).

If I was having this issue with plums, apricots, nectarines, or even cherries I’d be ok, plenty of trees around to frankentree for a year, but with pomme fruit I’m out of luck…

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Rootstocks all arrived (15x MM102, and 10x M27), as did all of my Scions:

M27 Grafts:

  • Huonville Crab
  • Andre Sauvage
  • Black Ben Davis
  • Red Gem
  • Golden Sweet
  • Devonshire Quarrendon
  • Calwells Keeper
  • Kingston Black
  • White Transparent
  • Xavier De Bavay

MM102 Grafts

  • King David
  • Prinzen Apfel
  • Huonville Crab
  • Baldwin x2
  • Jonathan
  • Antonovka Kamenichka
  • Pitmaston Pineapple
  • SG-001 (Ambrosia x ?, one of my own seedling trees)
  • SG-002 (same parentage as SG-001)
  • Redlove x ? Seedling (from an awesome aussie ebay seller)
  • Redlove x ? Seedling (I got two) & Eagle Point Star
  • Akane & Pine Golden Pippin
  • Winter Banana & Lady in the Snow

“Parked” on the SG-002 seedling: (I didn’t want to do it as the seedling is quite young, but sacrifices must be made, haha)

  • Starking Delicious
  • Baumann’s Reinette

Each was grafted using different grafts, as the situation called for it (I’ll edit the post to reflect what got what, when I find my notes), around the 20th of August (2021).
So far, I’ve got silver-tip for the Huonville crabs and the Red Gem, and proper bud break on the Pitmaston Pineapple.

I put together a tool to help me track them: Orchard tracker
Side note: If folks think that might be of use to them, let me know and I can open it up for others to use as well! It allows you to input when a plant leafs out/flowers/shows fruitlets/is ready to pick, expected chill units and stuff.

I’ll keep everyone appraised in the coming months as to how each graft fairs!


That orchard tracker looks useful and easy to use. Is there a way to enter dates, especially on blossoming and harvest? Or maybe spread it to weekly entries in busy months.

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I was thinking of something like this too, but ended up going with months because it was a lot easier to code, haha.

I reckon I’ll make the switch to dates, and look into how to visualise it.

Posting here for completeness, but I’ll probably make a thread for it too: I’ve done some work on the backyard orchard tracking idea and have this:
Lets you track plants day by day, for when they have leaves (if deciduous), when they have flowers, when fruit starts forming and when it’s ready to pick.