Basic tip for new grafters # 1 Gathering and Storing Scions) (discussion invited!)

I thought it might work to start a series of post along the lines of “Basic Tips for New Grafters”. The idea is that one of us will enter a tip with details, and others will chime in with their own thoughts, disagreements, and refinements. I’ll lead off with a few words about, you guessed it, “Gathering and Storing Scions”. Anybody can chime in, ask questions, raise objections, and so on. And anybody can start the next “Basic Tip.” It would be a lot of fun if somebody did.

So here we go!

The easy way to gather scions is to ask for them here. It might cost you a few bucks for postage or whatnot, and you might not get just what you wanted if somebody has mislabeled something, but odds are you’ll do pretty well. There are a few risks (mislabeled or diseased scions, for example) but I don’t worry about it too much. You can buy them from a few commercial sources, too, with the same risks. There’s a lot of good stuff right here.

But eventually all scions have to be cut from another plant somewhere. Here’s how I do that. I hope others will comment.

I gather scions in late winter before the source has broken dormancy. The best wood grew the year before, and shows quite a bit of new growth- many inches, at least, and a sometimes a few feet. It’ll be roughly the diameter of a pencil, not much larger, and not any thinner than an old-fashioned wooden stick match- especially when you start out! (It’s hard to cut skinny wood without breaking it, or having it bend away from the blade, and the cambium layer is skinny too.) It’s best if the sticks are straight, there’s a decent space between buds, and the buds are well-formed. Once the wood is cut into manageable lengths I wrap it in parafilm, stick it in plastic (often ziplock) bags, and stick it in the refrigerator with a little damp -not wet- paper towel.

That’s it, except for labeling. Masking tape is often used to bundle and label scions, but whatever works is good.

There are other good ways of storing scions- I have a friend who just sticks his in a quart mason jar with a couple of inches of water; some people dip them in wax, which should be great if you have quite a few of them, and some just wrap them in a damp paper towel and stick them in plastic bags. I hope we get comments on that.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

So: what should the next topic be? Tools of the trade? Field or bench grafting? When to graft (spring vs. summer budding?) Best graft for beginners? I’ll suggest Tools, but somebody else may do something else. I’m excited to see if this goes anywhere, and thanks for playing!


I make sure to first dip my scions in a 10% solution of bleach and then I lay them out to dry. I light a small candle and dip the cut ends in the candle wax. After that they are wrapped in a paper towel that is barely damp and into the fridge crisper they go.


My tip would be
Check your stored scions every once in a while and discard any that show signs of mold , rot, ect.


To keep my scions from getting mixed I take labeled bags with me and bag the scions as I cut them. I also put a small piece of moist paper towel in the bag before starting.


Great topic


Awesome tips! I’m grafting this year. Keep the tips coming! Thank you!


I put all my ziplock bags with scions in them inside a larger trash bag and roll it up- a form of double bagging to protect against ehtylene gas in frig from other fruits and veg.

I use the kind of ziplock bags that have a slide mechanism- so I can look at the slide position and tell instantly whether the bag is sealed or open. This prevents scions drying out by accidentally putting an open bag back in the frig.


Whenever possible, I use Chlorox or Lysol wipes, wipe them down, rinse them vigorously and then dip the end in candle wax. I use a candle warmer from the guest bathroom because my wife doesn’t know I do that.


One more tip when you cut any scions. Cut the tip horizontal and the bottom with an angle cut so you don’t have to worry about the up side down graft if you can’t tell which direction the buds are.



I stopped putting any paper products in the storage bags as they promote mold. As long as the bag has a very small amount of moisture inside the scions remain hydrated.


What is the best wax? Grafting wax, bees wax, or basic candle wax?


Scroll down to Barkslip’s detailed account on this thread:


candle warmer! what a good idea

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This is terrific! Thanks.
I also read that especially if you are keeping your propagation pots indoors - mist them at least once a day. I didn’t find out about wrapping them until they were already sunk into their pots . . . so I’ve been doing the misting to help keep them hydrated.

Oops . . . getting ahead of ‘the game’, here. We haven’t come to that step yet. Sorry.

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There was a short lived fad in the fig community a few years ago of storing cuttings in vacuum sealer aka food-saver bags. They actually suffocate the cuttings because that type of plastic is not gas permeable, so the bags puff up with gas, and after a while they look watery like they had freeze damage and start smelling funky.

Someone tried it and told everyone before they really knew if it was better than a plain old ziploc and lots of people got excited and came to a premature conclusion that it was the way to go. Stupid me tried it and lost a whole bunch of cuttings. Then got to be the bad guy who ruined the party, fun times.

For long term (6+ months) storage of fig cuttings, wrapping them individually in plastic wrap is the way to go.


Hello, Clorox does not prevent molding, dipping your scions in a solution of Cu fungicide and letting them dry will prevent molding and keep your scions healthy and happy. I use Kocide, 1 tsp in a qt of water, dip and let dry, them put a strip if damp paper towel in the bag. One of the biggest cause of scion storage failure is warm to cold cycling, essentially the same as freezer burn. I wrap my scions in a plastic bag with a tie, then 5 or so plastic shopping bags leaving some air in to provide insulation so when the frig is opened they don’t warm up.


Great topic,
For peach scions I receive from others I usually spray with liquid copper to help sanitize and to prevent peach leaf curl, same treatment I use to treat my dormant trees.


This is my experience with paper towels. Newsprint works better. It’s a source of moisture in case the bag doesn’t seal. Cheap bags breathe a little, too. You want to store scionwood in a separate refrigerator or cold box away from fruit and vegetables. They may come out of dormancy otherwise.

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I’ve never heard of anyone else using this but I started trying it last year.

I’m using a couple of these rehydrated in my bags of scion. You don’t need many…one or two in a small ziplock with a few sticks. I had some in the last years scion that I just threw out. Actually a lot of that wood was still green and moist this year. I keep a bag of hydrated beads to use as needed.

These give up water and shrink as they dehydrate so you can tell if they need replacing. It’s easy to put too many in the bag and then it gets wet in there.


This might be a good time to mention @Jose-Albacete’s excellent post on the subject.