Cambium cross or cambium match?

I’m planning to do a bunch of bench grafting in March and have 50 rootstocks coming from Cummins and a mini fridge with a bunch of scion wood. Now all I need is perfect grafting technique! Besides some regular grafts, at least half of these will be interstem grafts, so twice as many chances to mess up…

I’ve been practicing on some cuttings from shrubs in my yard and even a few twigs poached off some crab apple trees from the grocery story lot. I realize that it is all about getting the cambium layers to connect and callous together, which seems fairly challenging on the smaller wood where the cambium layer is just so thin and it would so easy to think they’re aligned and have them still be off or even just knock them out of alignment when wrapping it up.

So I was particularly intrigued by the comments at around 9:40 in this youtube video:

It would seem like I would have a much better chance of having the cambium connect if instead of a perfectly parallel alignment it could be just slightly askew so that you would be guaranteed of a place where they did hit. Is this true, or when you’re talking about such small wood and narrow cambium on smaller scion and rootstock do you really need to make sure they’re aligned over the longest possible area?

Any insight is welcome.

Definitely, you want to get some perfect alignment somewhere, thats where the nutrients will flow. One of the main mistakes made by early grafters is to not get good alignment in one spot at least. The alignment doesn’t have to be totally perfect, but it at least must be decent.


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I don’t know how much area the cambiums require for alignment, but I’ve had some good luck grafting small stock. My personal preference is cleft grafts for scion grafting. The are so easy for the stock to retain because of fairly descent pressure against the scion. I’ve called them “wedge grafts” before because the scion is in the form of a wedge, but I think the proper name is cleft grafts. These can be done with small and large rootstocks.

I still say temperature conditions (and perhaps condition of the scion wood) are the most important factors in grafting stone fruits. Stone fruits (especially peach) are very fussy about that, but pomes seem so readily to forgive all but the most inhospitable grafting conditions.

Hey everybody! Well I guess I’m going to start with the hardest scion, peaches! Hopefully next year I can fill any failures with scion from some of you if needed.
I had a question about bark grafts. I noticed one method was to shave down both sides of the scion. In another video, only the inner side was shaved down.
Just curious, I guess in the first method as long as you left some bark and cambium on the sides, either would work.
I think the cleft graft is what I’m going to use as the rootstocks are not that big. I guess if I have small scion I could do a bark graft instead.
Also if both scion and rootstock are small maybe a whip or whip and tongue will be in order. A harder graft to do for sure.

Also I want to graft a grapevine. That should be interesting. I may try a bud graft here, and a cleft graft too. Both the scion and rootstock are growing so if it fails, I can try again next year.
I also heard with grapes, or saw where the guy put a cut below the graft to let the vine weep there instead of the graft union. Any thoughts?



I don’t know if it answers your question, but here are some observations for various grafts of new trees.

In short, for my poor whittling skills, I like easy types of grafts with descent cambium alignment. Whip, cleft, or budding are the easiest for me. That said, my understanding is banana grafts are best for hard grafting nuts like pecan,because they provide the most cambium contact.

I used a type of bark graft for a pecan last year recommended by pecan guru Bill Reid, and it worked for me. That said, I don’t want to discount the failures I’ve had trying to graft pecans, which are some of the hardest trees to graft. I went quite a few years trying to graft pecans without success. The only success I’ve had is when I quit trying to bud them and tried Bill Reid’s scion grafting last year.

For particularly difficult grafting, it’s my opinion the energy in scion grafting provides an extra level of insurance for the graft, over budding.

You want as close to a perfect match as possible, but with small wood it is difficult to hit,but very easy to miss. It is for this reason that professional grafters purposely angle their grafts a bit (bark/rind - cleft) so as to insure a cambium cross.

Is that what you are asking? I can provide links to YT videos where they talk about this briefly.

Thanks all. Appleseed, that is indeed what I was asking. I just wanted to make sure that with tiny stuff angling was okay. Sounds like it is a good way to go if the cambium layer is so thin that you can’t be sure they are perfectly aligned.

In regards to the term “cross” at 9:40. The cambiums flow connects a bit crossways rather then vertical, but sap will cross over between the two no problem. Don’t be confused by his personal choice of words. He does know what he is doing.

For my experience on cleft or whip an tongue, the longer the graft can be the better it will grow.

Also I do my apple grafts in early may as the rootstock is budding out. Much higher success rate.

Here’s my take without evidence. I think the callus tissue that grows from the cambium tissue on both scion and rootstock, grows into the small gap between scion and rootstock. If callus from both sides meets in that gap it will join and a union will form. If that’s true a union could form even when that thin cambium layer never crosses or touches.

I base this on the large mass of callus tissue that expands under any tight restriction over a graft. I’ve often seen a mass of callus under the budding rubbers over my grafts.

He definitely does know what he’s doing…for sure. When Zendog made the initial post I didn’t even notice the video he had linked to. When I answered it was this exact video along with a few others from the same guy that I had in mind.
I’ve linked to his videos before on GW as I find this guy fascinating. If you go to his channel on YT, he has a ton of grafting videos. Problem is they are not separated from his other vids, so you have to kind of search around in there for them.
In one video he talks about (and shows) where an orchard had grafted an interstem (If I recall correctly) upside down to slow the growth of the tree (pear in this case) and control vigor.
I’ve read thousands of pages about grafting and watched tons of videos and never before had I ever heard of this technique. He speaks of it almost as though it’s common knowledge. Probably is to guys like him who really DO know what they’re doing.
I find his personality and approach to life very, very cool. In most of his videos he begins by saying “this is the view today from my office window” while panning the camera around some beautiful valley from atop a mountain orchard. His love of life and appreciation of the outdoors and affection for his craft is so evident.
God I wish I loved my job like that…so refreshing!

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Here is the video I mentioned.

Zendog, I am late in answering your post but thought I would share my experience as a 1st time grafter last winter. Like you, I ordered my rootstock from Cummins. I got most of my scion wood from USDA. My initial plan was to bench graft using the whip and tongue method but I struggled with the technique, and shifted over to the Cleft graft Olpea mentioned for all of the trees. (I found this method to be much easier but I did not practice ahead of time like you have.) I wrapped the graft with linerless rubber splicing tape (kind of like electrical tape) and then everything with parafilm, then dabbed everthing with Doc Farwell’s Grafting Seal. Had good success with 10 out of the 11 grafts, the trees are now around 5’ and looking good. I think the 1 failure was because of a partially dead rootstock.

Per suggestion of Steve Cummins, after grafting, I stored the trees in my mini fridge at 50 degrees for 3 weeks for the grafts to callus, then planted them after the last frost. All of these steps may not be necessary but it worked for me as a 1st time grafter and I am following the same routine this year. Good luck, Chris.

Getting grafts to take is not the hardest part here but it can be hard particularly with peaches. There are a few extra things I do because I learned to. Birds will use your grafts as a perch so give them a slightly higher better perch. Wind breaks off grafts so when they grow away to fast cut them off half way before the wind breaks off the whole thing. Graft when the saps starting to run and buds swell because grafts take easier. Use as fresh a wood as possible. In my way of thinking grafts should fit together like a lock and key but don’t let the wood your grafting dry out a lot after you make the cut. In videos I see guys cut 20 scions at an angle and graft them but that never works for me rather I cut them one at a time the minute I graft them.

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You can put a vented bag over the grafts to keep the birds away from them, it also helps with the wind too.

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Bringing up this old thread with a cambium question. Reading about grafting and looking at pictures, it seems very easy. You “just” have to match the cambium layers. But now that I’m actually cutting and wrapping scions together to practice, it doesn’t look like I manage to get good cambium contact. It feels like the pieces move when I try to wrap. Have you ever done a graft that you felt like “no way this is gonna take”, but then it took?

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I made plenty of mistakes when I first started and had many failures but with time you kind of figure it out. When I first started which was a long time ago the first few that worked surprised me. The odd thing about grafting now is that I enjoy trying different methods and attempting grafts that aren’t typical. I get bored without a challenge. I have some more that I will post later on. Keep at it and it will all come together soon if not so already. Bill


Most of them, for a while, and sometimes even still.

What’s frustrating is when you feel like you’ve done everything right and it still doesn’t work!


Pears are the most forgiving. Are you cleft grafting ?

Last year I did a couple grafts with apples. I used cleft grafts and did only cambium crosses on purpose with 100% success.

This year I did some stone fruit grafts, only crosses again. Will see if it is working with stone fruit too.


I’ve been doing splice grafting. I feel like it’s the easiest to wrap up with parafilm. But I’ve had many recommendations for cleft. I should try couple of clefts, though I feel like it’s harder to keep them together while tying it up. Is cleft more forgiving than others?

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