Apples tree grafting: Multiple scions on first year rootstock

I’m had a bit of a google around, and haven’t found anyone talking about this (might be an answer all on it’s own, haha), but my question is this:

Can I reasonably expect to graft 2 scions onto a just received and planted this year rootstock (Bud 9 for reference, still in shipping, so not sure the diameter of the stock)?

In a perfect world I’d have enough rootstocks as scions, but some of an order fell through (I suspect an actual orchard made a better offer) and so I’m left a little short (any users in Australia that know of a seller of Bud 9/M9/M27 rootstocks, that still have orders available, please let me know!).

If the answer is yes, the follow up question is: What kind of graft, and in what configuration would people recommend? I.e. a single whip and tongue at the top, and a side veneer lower down?, a double whip and tongue at the top? A double side veneer?, etc.

Any and all help greatly appreciated, and don’t hesitate to ask for more info!

i ran into this exact problem last year.

The awnser is yes it can be done. And reasonable reliable. However it is a bit of a hassle.

I grafted 1-4 varieties on a single new rootstock several times last years. Virtually all chip bud grafts. on most rootstock 3 chip buds (and varieties) started growing just fine. However if had to brake of rootstock buds braking several times. Since they where late grafts and the rootstock was starting to leaf out. So that might have helped wake up all buds at the same time, instead of only the top 1 waking up and exerting it’s apical dominance.

If grafted a lot with chip bud grafting technique, and close together.

And if pruned back some branches this year on the tree’s that had a variety not grow out last year. On some the bud’s started growing on others the bud was dead, but the chip took. And it’s a bit of a pain to force latent buds from that chip. Worst caste scenario you can take that chip out and graft it to a new rootstock next year to more easily force it.

The biggest pain though is keeping track of what variety is where. I recomend a systematic approach. With 3 chip grafts for example.
That way you have a left and right chip bud (and variety) and a top one (slightly above the left and right ones, between them. That way you can determine what’s left and right if you have the top chip bud facing you. And start to label the shoots when their large enough.

if also had 4 out of 5 buds brake on a seedling rootstock. All chip buds all different varieties. With roughly 4" between different chips placed in different directions. I think the stronger rootstock will more easily wake up multiple grafts to grow into shoot.


If your scions are thin and your rootstock is thick…putting 2 varieties in a cleft might be good…remove one next year and graft it another place. Or ‘side grafts’ could be done on both sides of a rootstock.


@oscar I hadn’t even though of chip bud grafting! That’s not a bad idea, it’d certainly let me pick my preferred position on the rootstock, and I’ve heard that they, while fiddly, have a great success rate.
I’ve also heard that doing notching (making a cambium layer cut) just above the dormant bud will get it to take off (something about disabling the hormone flow back down, that causes apical dominance).
I’ll definitely keep this approach in mind for when the rootstocks arrive!

@BlueBerry This was my initial thoughts exactly! You don’t see any issues with structural integrity doing it this way? i.e. should I take extra care to trellis/stake it than usual because of the nature of the grafts?

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I’ve bought trees that looked like an elephant’s trunk curved and feeding itself…young trees are pretty forgiving if they are vigorous and healthy. *But, if you are leaving two primary limbs long term, yes, there might be a weak crotch down the road for that tree…and support needed. Myself, I’d get rid of the second variety in one or 2 years and take the tree back to one limb and graft the other again after you have more rootstocks or create a ‘frankentree’.

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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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