Bark is Slipping. Time for T-budding

The bark is slipping now. At least in my yard, my area.

Time to do some T-budding. I want to top work a 5-year-old Almaden Duke cherry with Ranier, Stella, and Lapin sweet cherries. I also want to add a couple more varieties to an already multi-grafted plum.

Last year’s plum T-buds did great. Some grew about 2 feet last Summer. Others stayed dormant, but really took off and grew this Spring, again about 2 feet Only one sweet cherry, of about 10, took. None of my sour cherries took. I might have grafted the cherries too late - mid July, while I did the plums in late May / early June. It is also possible, cherries need tighter wrap compared to plums. Most of my cherry grafts seemed to make callous that pushed the graft off of the stem and out of the T…

Here is how the buds look when I cut them. Some grafters do not peel the graft off of the wood. I am more of a novice, so I like to have the entire cambium layer in contact with the stock. It’s easy to peel the bud right off the budwood. I do that rather than cutting the bud before peeling.

Here is how I like to make the bud shield.

After that, I do the classic T-budding technique as found in grafting books.

Here is how they look when budded and wrapped. This winter when I whip-tongue grafted, I overwrapped polyethylene tape with parafilm. That worked so well, I did that with the plum T-buds. The polyethylene is easier for me to stretch and wrap tightly the first time around. I wrap twice, then wrap with Parafilm. The Parafilm seems to make it more firm, but without girdling. In fact, I have had buds grow through both layers.

I wanted the cherry T-buds to be tighter this time. So I wound nylon twine around the wrapped grafts. So those are, first wrapped with polyethylene, then with parafilm, then with twine. The purpose of the twine is to prevent expanding callous from pushing the bud out of the T-cut. I don’t know if that will work. I will need to keep an eye on them to avoid girdling. Most of the vertical portion of the T-cut is wound tightly, with a looser loop at the bud, then a couple more times around the graft at the top.

Some advantages of T-budding

:cherries: It can be done over a couple of months’ time during growing season. If you have a budwood source, it’s fun to get them started now.

:cherries: Some trees seem to take easier from budding, than from larger scion. I am not expert, but I think that is true for cherries.

:cherries: Some people think t-budding is faster and easier. For me, whip-and-tongue is easier. I’m quite slow at cutting the buds and stock and putting them together. Then again, I’m not a commercial nurseryman, so speed isn’t too important.

:cherries: If you missed grafting season, T-budding gives another chance to try in the same year.

:cherries: The soft new growth is much easier to cut, compared to mature scion and stock. It might be safer.

:cherries: I think buds are less likely to be broken off by birds, compared to sticks of scion.

Some disadvantages
:cactus: Not everything can be budded.

:cactus: For some, there might not be as much free time during budding season.

:cactus: Many buds stay dormant until next Spring. That’s a long wait to see if they take.

:cactus: Everyone has their own favorite thing. Some people don’t like budding. To each their own.


Hey Bear. Have fun with your T-buds.

I am finding I have the best luck with chip-buds these days, on most fruits, with or without slipping bark. I did a few pear chips today.

Last August, my T-buds were a mixed bag: Modest success with apples. Epic fail on cherries.

Wrap 'em tight. Good luck!

Same here. I’m not in a race while doing w/t grafts. I started a few t-buds about a week ago. Good luck Biil

This is my first time to do some chip buds. They are much easier than t-budding. Time will tell if I get similar results. Bill


Wrap the chips tight to keep the moisture in. Cover 'em up so they don’t dry out. I use electrician’s tape and just go crazy wrapping everything up except the bud itself. Then I dab any creases with sealant. This definitely can make or break a graft. Good luck!

Thanks Matt

I tried T-budding last year and it was an absolute failure. Didn’t get a single bud to take. I must admit though that I don’t really understand how it is supposed to work. There is so many contradictory videos out there. I inserted the t-bud and wrapped but I didn’t clip anything. This spring I went back and looked at the and they are dead. But I’ve seen some videos where a bud is inserted and the rest of the limb gets topped immediately. Can you recommend a good tutorial.

I also tried t buddng last year for the first time, miserable failure for me as well. I do a couple hundred bench grafts every spring and have 90% success or better. Was hoping to t bud those failed benchgrafts but it didnt work out that way.


I found some Robada and Orangered cots scions I harvested in late February and just did 3 T-bud of each variety. I wrapped them real tight with IV tegaderm to prevent drying out and use black electrical tape wrapped real tight above and below the bud. It worked real well for me several years ago and I will see if I can repeat that again. These days I chose bark graft over T-bud or chip bud because of high percentage of take.


Matt, thanks.

I’m probably making things more complicated than needed. I have not tried chip budding because I don’t think I have the carpentry skills to make a perfect match.

T-budding with the bud removed as I show, has a very large patch of cambium for a small bud. Obviously, it’s experience that matters. For plums, this worked perfectly last year, but for cherries, almost not at all. I didn’t add, I also tried 2 with peach and 6 with lilac, and none of those took.

@Bill, thanks.

Since I am slow, unless I time it perfectly there is some slight browning of the cut. So I get everything ready and make the cuts at the last minute, and try to immediately get the bud into place.

I wondered if dipping in vitamin C solution - like the anti-browning solutions used for preserving fruit - would help, but I have not tried that.

@Speedster, this video might help. I skipped to the actual budding part, so I hope he didn’t say anything bad in the earlier part. I forgot how to imbed videos so hopefully this link works.

<iframe width="640" height="390" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

@Tony, I never thought of using Tegaderm for grafts! I bet it will work! For me, wrapping with polyethylene tape gives me good control and it doesn’t stick to the bark when removed. That’s all I did last year. But grafting whip-tongue this year, I over-wrapped the polyethylene with Parafilm. Those did the best of any grafts I have done, really nicely held together, with no callous pushing away the thin whip tissue on most grafts. I added the nylon twine for the cherries because my sweet cherries seem to make really strong callous that really pushes out the graft.

T budding is my favorite technique for apricot, peach, pluot, apple, and pear. Under good conditions 90+% isn’t that hard. I cut a smaller bud shield and usually remove the wood. It doesn’t work well if stock is older wood. Works best with vigorous first yr wood for scion and first or small diameter second yr wood for stock. Don’t even try it on thick barked stock, that’s grafting material. It’s really pretty easy and dependable if bark is slipping well and material is as described.

I use budding rubbers and don’t worry about sealing things. Just pull it up tight and budding rubber works great. After two weeks force by cutting off stock above the bud. Or for fall budding force the following spring. That said I prefer spring or early summer T budding and force same yr. For fall budding I’m liking chip buds in September, August in short season areas.

1 Like

Great tips, especially about budding on young stock. I have grafted for decades but have zero successful T buds probably because I always tried it on older stock. So I gave up but will try a few this summer. Thanks.

Question: do you remove wood from the back of the bud with your knife or by other method?

I cut under the bud while leaving it attached to the budstick. Cut through the bark of scion below the bud. Then loosen the edges of bark with finger nail and pop it off the wood with gentle side pressure. The T is prepared already so when bud pops off it’s immediately slid under bark of T. Bind with rubber.

1 Like

I don’t want to take away any discussion from t-budding but wanted to ask about chip budding since they are related.

I see that many nurseries chip bud multiple varieties onto a rootstock when making a combo tree. They typically space the chips even around the tree and at multiple heights to eliminate issues with multiple crotches at a single height. My question is do they place all the chips onto the tree at the same time? And if so do they wait a few weeks before the cut the tree and force buds? Does that normally stimulate all of the buds to push or just the bud near the cut? How does that work.

1 Like

Good question. Hope someone can answer. Bill

They’ll all push at once. If they didn’t there would be no means to force the laggards. The key would be to have a vigorous under stock. Then when all vegetation is removed there will be plenty of vigor to push everything at once.



Thank you

The window for t-budding is pretty short since the bark needs to be slipping. How about the window for chip budding? Technically with a chip bud you aren’t peeling any bark. Does it really matter for chip budding? Could I do it right now?