Graft care questions

First time (at least in a while) grafter here. I bench grafted 13 trees a month or so ago. Put them into the root cellar for about 4 weeks after the graft and then potted them and have them going now in the greenhouse. I believe things are going well, as I am seeing buds on the scions getting a bit bigger, and those on the root stock about to break, and I realized that I don’t really know some of the details I should about care and the next steps.

First question I have is when do I cut the electrical tape I put over the grafts? The grafts are mostly cleft, with a few whip and tongue (when the diams were close enough). Unfortunately I did not read enough, and on the majority of the grafts I did the electrical tape to hold the graft together first and then covered it with parafilm. I know the el tape will need to be cut (just slit as it likely won’t peel off due to the order I put the tapes on) at some point, when the graft is strong enough to hold together on its own; I just don’t know when that will be. Any guidelines? At what point does the el tape start constricting the graft?

Second question, how do folks typically manage root stock buds. Does one rub them all off? Leave a few to grow and give some energy to the plant? What is best practice here?


I wouldn’t mess with he electrical tape until at least mid summer after the grafts are growing and appear strong. When the time comes just slit one side of the electrical tape and let it fall off naturally.

You can rub some of the buds off the rootstock but leave a few until you are sure the graft takes. They will keep the rootstock alive in case of a graft failure. You’ll be able to summer bud or graft again next year if the rootstock survives. If you rub off all the buds and the graft fails you might lose the rootstock too due to lack of foliage.

I never remove my plumbers tape until late July. I rub off the green buds or shoots as I see them on the root stock. With M111 or B118 I have never had a root stock not push a bud if the scion fails. IMO no sense in feeding a root stock bud.

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Last year I made the mistake of not supporting the new grafts with a strip of wood. I lost 90% to wind, critters, and clumsiness.

Thanks everyone.

@Chikn, do you mean a taller stick nearby, or some splint-like stick over the graft?

Either or both

I have never supported a graft. I do deep whip and tongue so there is a good grip, plus I cut it to 2 buds on the scion. So not alot of leverage if it gets bumped.

I would also have a little worry about affecting the alignment of the graft in the process of tying the support