Does the rootstock usually wake up before the scion?

Grafted an apple scion to a rootstock 3 weeks ago. Am noticing some green sticking out of the rootstock buds, but nothing on scion yet. Is this common?

It happens. I’ve read that you should rub those buds off to divert energy to the grafted scion. If the grafts were 3 weeks ago and nothing has changed at all they may not have taken. I still wouldn’t lose hope though. Do they still look healthy or do they look dry or shriveled?

I watched this video awhile back and remembered something Tom Spellman said about leaving the rootstock growth going.There may be different opinions about it.Here is the video and the the part he talks about it,is about the 3:20 point. Brady

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Yeah, a couple of my scions had very small buds, maybe harvested early in season. The scions still look fine, and I’m hopeful they will wake up soon.

I had some other scions that had more swollen buds, and I think one of them might have taken, because the buds are splitting open and I can see green inside.

I’ll hold off on removing the rootstock buds for now.

Thanks for the replies.

I rub off the rootstock buds if they show, and try to do it when I’m grafting it over.
Leaving one as an insurance policy should your graft fail might be an idea, but I usually have 95% take so I want all the energy going to the scion.

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I do my grafting on established trees, but I want the scion to trail the mother a bit to reduce the chances of it drying out before achieving connection. However, if it drags too far back success is equally threatened- at least here in the northeast with apples.

When you follow the book and take the scion wood out of refrigeration to graft shortly after first growth of a tree you are grafting to, the scion will always trail the growth of the mother because it has been artificially held in dormancy.

I bench grafted to a rootstock, so I’m assuming the scion was behind the rootstock which was less dormant…or was it? Are rootstocks and scions considered equal in dormancy? I thought the rootstock probably woke up quicker because it had roots, and that the graft would be later because it had a few hurdles to overcome.

I like the idea of removing the rootstock buds, just hard to go against Dave Wilson :smile:

I like the idea of removing all but one bud. Might try that.

Will it help to let the scion warm up to air temperature before grafting?It may not matter too much because the whole process of the two parts growing together takes a fair amount of time.Just a thought. Brady

I have always let one bud go to help the roots and to have something started if this graft fails, so that I can reuse later. But Tony recently told of his experience where there was a huge difference in success by not allowing buds. this more forces the graft to take.

As a side note. Based on my experience I would rather put a dormant scion onto a waking rootstock. Others here have come to that same conclusion. I also cut scion down to one or two buds to decrease the target size and leverage in regards to birds, dogs, kids etc.

Yeah, if I had to do it over again, the rootstock would definitely be growing. I was experimenting this year. One of my grafts WAS on a growing rootstock, and I think that one is taking. the bud has broken open and there is green showing.

If one follows the old school idea of grafting when the largest leaves are the size of squirrel ears then of course the scion will always be trailing the root stock. I think after all that is the whole idea, getting the scion on there when the “push” is just beginning. That’s the whole idea to my thinking.


You want the rootstock growing so that it pushes callus tissue asap into all the cracks and crevices of your union. Then the scion only has to push a little callus to make a union. If the rootstock just sets there the scion has a chance to dry out. The scion is smaller and has no reserve water. It can’t push as much callus as the root.

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I know this is an old thread, but I planted a rootstock that I DID NOT graft onto. The buds on that are starting to open up. My grafted rootstock trees have not had any growth off the sides. Is this common?

buds off the side of the rootstock or the grafts. Side budding can be induced by heading the dominate center bud.