Grafting Apple trees

I am new to grafting Apple trees. I have done research and started a few doing the W&T method. Some of the thicker rootstocks are harder to creat a tight connection, leaving a little space. Of wrapped correctly within the tree naturally close and heal the graft? Or will lose too much moisture? I am wrapping the graft Union with parafilm tape and considering using wax as well. Do I need to wax the top of the scion wood in order to keep moisture in as well? And help is appreciated. I am in the Hudson Valley region of NY and with this warm weather I hope I didn’t wait to long to do my grafts.


My grafting is only on established trees -I’ve only ever grafted once to an unplanted rootstock. But I would say that those gaps can be a problem. If the size discrepancy is too great to do the whip and tongue with confidence I would try a cleft.

As a rule parafilm won’t bind tightly enough to correct a problem. But you can wrap the union with a rubber band, Temflex tape, plastic tape, even masking tape, and then cover that with parafilm. (You’ll need to slice the tapes open once the graft callouses nicely to prevent girdling.) The wax over the whole works shouldn’t be necessary but can’t hurt, and you definitely want to touch up the cut tip of the scion to help prevent drying out. I use parafilm along the entire length of the scion and twist the end at the tip.

I hope this helps. Notice too the search function at the top right of this page will guide you to a ton of great discussions on grafting we’ve had on this forum. Hard to find better commentary anywhere!


Thank you for your quick response I greatly appreciate it!

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Most of your answers are “yes”. I would suggest going on youtube to look at some grafting videos.

Or, if you were local, follow me to the backyard where I’ll be doing a number of benchgrafts this afternoon.

Here is an example of a graft I did. I’m hoping it’s just a small fix if anything.

That graft is going to have issues. The parts just aren’t marrying together well.

Here’s what I suggest you do: Separate the two pieces and use your nippers to cut each at the steepest angle you can. In other words, cut a very steep bias on each. They should then line up nicely. If you can get the cambium on at least one side to match up you can wrap with parafilm and then with rubbers or tape. That’s a simple whip graft, and really, it’s all you need.

But a good whip and tongue is elegant and a pleasure to behold, and it’s doable. It starts with the same whip described above. Find a Youtube video showing how to cut the tongue. Then you’ll be able to see where your graft needs work. Remember, on a whip and tongue the tongue is an optional addition to the whip - the whip should be able to succeed on its own, but the tongue is nice to help hold the pieces together, and it does provide nice contact.

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Here is another 1 of my grafts after wrapped up.

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I was new to grafting last year so take my advice with a grain of salt. As a fellow rookie, I recommend a simple whip. Just cut the angle and don’t worry about the tongue. I did many apple and pear grafts that way last year and every single graft took nicely. I wrapped the union tightly with parafilm and wrapped the scion with parafilm. I think those unions could be cut again.


I also did some cleft grafts when the sizes didn’t match. They all took.


On average how long would you say it took the graft to heal? Like the rootstock and scion wood bind together? At least I can have a timetable to know if they were successful or not. My first year I’m not expecting great results as much as I would love to have it. Looking to add Apple trees to my property. If the grafts are no successful, can I reuse the rootstock for anything?

Usually, but not always, the graft will show signs of life by the third week, often much sooner. But full healing takes much of the summer. If the trees are planted and your graft failed the rootstock may sprout below the graft, or send up shoots from the roots. If it’s alive you can bud it in the later summer or do a chip.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for someone doing a graft in the spring to put a chip or bud lower down on the rootstock, just in case the main graft fails. Those are pretty easy to do and have a very high success rate on apples.

Google, Stephen Hayes cleft grafting. His Youtube cleft and rind (bark) graft are easy to understand and follow.

Your biggest issue is not wrapping the graft union tightly enough like @marknmt pointed out. For new grafters, It is hard to wrap it too tight. Usually it is the opposite.


Mam, I don’t think he could solve his problem by wrapping more tightly, but I may be wrong. The wood just looks to stiff to bend that far to me. Far better to remake the cuts as I described (this is really Alan Haigh’s method, not mine) and have it right from the beginning.

It doesn’t hurt either that this approach is so quick and easy! :slight_smile:

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A Splice or whip graft without the tongue part is all he needs, like @@sparty mentioned above.

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apple or pear…I’d bet you a beer that w/t graft will callus and do just fine
I’d call it good, wrap with parafilm snd a ruberband, and expect it to never look back


Hmmm. Guess I’d better go with “it’ll work fine”.


Not a perfect marriage, but I wouldn’t bet a beer…because if it’s wrapped tight, and waxed, it likely will work fine.

Or, I could just offer you a beer if you’re in the area sometime. :slight_smile:

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Should I add the wax over the parafilm? I did wrap them tight with the parafilm. Suggestions on adding wax to the top part of the scion wood? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

i wrap union and entire scion with parafilm-M, but would never expect the parafilm alone to hold a graft together,. I use a rubberband on EVERYTHING, and sometimes the rubber OVER a layer of masking tape covering the union.
Ed Fackler used, at his Rocky Meadow Orchard Nursery, just masking tape over W/T grafts, and he got along fine with that on apples/pears for years

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I had the same issue a few days ago. The thicker wood does not like to fit together without gaps. I got frustrated, and pulled the zenport out of the closet. Works like a dream on the thicker stock.