Grafting apple from a mature apple tree large roots

I am planning to dig some large roots from my apple trees and cleft graft a few varieties to these roots for relocating to my new acreage. Have anyone try this method yet? I used to graft tree peonies scions to the roots of the Bush peonies and they took.

For example from the photo below.



This method I use here works. I cut the scion as a bark graft leaving a very thin area to slide behind the “bark” of the roots.

The cut on the scion is a flat cut to try your best to create equal width of the scion. It’s sort of like a cleft cut of course but you make your cut anywhere so as that the width of scion and width of rootstock are as I say about as equal as you and do.

As you see, the scion is curved (it was carved) at the “shoulder” which is what rests on the rootstock/roots and then is long and skinny under the shoulder.

I got 100% doing persimmon grafts into roots this way. Maybe a cleft is just as good but I don’t know.

First I kept the carpentry together with bud strip, them I made sure it was tight and covered the budding rubber band with electrical tape and covered the top of the root so no air may get to the carpentry; last, I parafilmed the single-bud scion. I potted these and they grew outside. No callus pipe.

Modified Cleft Bark Graft 1

Modified Cleft Bark Graft 2

Modified Cleft Bark Graft 3

Modified Cleft Bark Graft 4

Modified Cleft Bark Graft 5

Modified Cleft Bark Graft 6

Modified Cleft Bark Graft 7

I wanted to see if I could replicate success so I did I think 6 or 8 of them.


Years ago I used to order in M. ‘Prunifolia’, ‘Ranetka’ and ‘Antonovka’ rootstocks for a nursery I worked at. For grafting standard apple trees. I was so surprised when the grafting crew cut off the tops of the rootstock and then cut the root into 2 pieces. They would graft the apple scion right to the piece of root using a whip and tongue graft.

They had great success! I would have grafted to the stem issue but the crew said this way they got 2 grafts out of each rootstock.

Glad to see someone still is root grafting apple trees!.


Very cool Barkslip, I may need to try that. Were both scion and root dormant?

I think of bark grafting as sliding the scion into slipping bark. I don’t think that’s what you are doing here, but asking just to clarify. What you are doing is like an off-center cleft graft, where a line of cambium is exposed at the cut on both the root and the scion.

In a traditional bark graft, the bark is peeled back at the cambium layer, so all of the contact area inside the bark pocket is exposed cambium.

Are the roots Virginiana? What are the varieties you used?

Also, do you plant it with the union above or below ground?

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Yes, they were both dormant.

I would call what I did a modified cleft cut with a scion bark grafting cut. Those are American persimmon cutlivars and roots I grafted. I don’t recall the cultivars. I had 2 or 3 cultivars. I think I did 3-grafts of (3) cultivars for (9) grafts. I’m almost certain. That’s why I generically said 6-8.

There is none green tissue behind the root collar. It’s all white tissue so I wanted to get a long and flat connection. Especially flat.

I may have overdid it, I don’t know. Maybe a cleft is all that’s necessary.

No, I planted it at above graft union. I never plant a union. I always keep all carpentry above soil level. I don’t have confidence burying unions or trees beyond where they’re supposed to be planted. Persimmons for example aren’t going to produce roots at the union or anywhere on hardwood, so you’ll likely bury and kill it. Apples will root if you bury a rootstock. I don’t know if for another example if all apple cultivars will root. If they do, you can certainly bury them. If you bury an apple that won’t root (a cultivar) you’ll end up killing it.

Maybe too much information. A lot of people on here probably think I’m nuts. I don’t bury trees ever.

I haven’t tried using large roots from an established tree but that sounds interesting. Hope it works. We have root grafted apples, pear and cherry using dug up seedlings or suckers, bench grafting to whatever part worked best (easiest), mostly w/t, then replanted with the graft several inches below ground (I’m wanting own-root trees). Most done in 2019 and they are all doing fine. Sue


I will let you know in a couple of months of the results. I will potted them all up. I have a 14 years old dwarf apple tree from Starkbros to work with.


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That was the appropriate amount of information as far as I’m concerned. Sounds like persimmons may grow a shoot from roots, but not the other way around.


Persimmons will grow a shoot from roots (and old groupings sucker) respectably well!


This is a really neat idea, thanks for sharing.

I’ve whip and tongue grafted apples and pears really low on the rootstock, at the top of the root with good success. I like the harder root wood for grafting as the knife seems to cut cleaner with less slipping or tearing.

I had never thought about digging up the roots and using them though. I have some oversized apple rootstock I let get too big so may give this a try on them next year. :slight_smile: