Grafting figs video - Chip-Budding and T-Budding

In the last few years i have been grafting figs as a backup measure to rooting.

Sometimes we receive only one cutting of a precious variety, so i began using the bottom bud to graft and rooted the top of the cutting. That way i had more than one shot to secure the variety.

When i have only one or two buds to graft i prefer to use Chip-Budding.
It’s very easy to do and has a very good success ratio.
With cuttings in dormancy, it’s the goto technique, if you want to use only one or two buds (when using the whole cutting, i prefer Whip and Tongue - it has an ever greater success ratio and it provides a stronger union and a faster development)

In my experience, by comparaison with other techniques, chip-budding is a very forgiving method of grafting. It’s works with green or hardened scions during 8 months of the year (i use it from March to October)

To learn how to do it, you just have to master the same 2 movements, over and over again:

  1. making an angled cut below the bud on the scion
  2. placing the knife above the bud and learning to slide it until you reach the initial cut (doing a controlled rocking motion helps to pass the bud - zone of more resistance - in the case of figs).

If you repeat those 2 movements on the root stock, you create the slot to insert the chip-bud.

I usually start in the root stock and go to the scion afterwards, so it doesn’t have to wait (the quicker you place it in the slot the better and don’t touch the underside with your hands - use the grafting knife to insert it - when in place you can correct the position or lift it to lengthen the slot, but pick it up by the sides)

Place the chip in the slot and cover it with parafilm (including the bud). Done!

Regarding alignment of cambiums. You have to try and make the slot about the same size of the chip-bud you will be using. Experience will let you know the length of the slot.
I always recommend starting with a shallower (and narrower) slot, similar to the chip-bud, but trying to be conservative.
When inserting the chip, if it’s smaller than the slot, you can correct the slot, cutting again, a little higher. If the slot is too narrow for the chip, cutting again, in the same place, at the same height, will also widen it.
I never try to align anything. I just try to fit the chip-bud in the slot i created.
When you insert the chip-bud into the slot, the cambiums always cross at some point (in the straight zone of the chip and in the bottom angled support cut).

In my experience, even the chip-buds that later fail to develop have fused the cambiums with the scion (they may not develop for several other reasons, like dehydration or bad scions to begin with but the cambiums have established contact)

Here’s a short video to demonstrate the technique (i will try to do a real graft in video when i have the time):


T-Bud Grafting

I really don’t use it much for figs. I prefer the simplicity of Chip-Budding. To me, this technique is much more complicated and i don’t see any real advantages.

It doesn’t work for cuttings in dormancy - the kind we all receive when we don’t have the variety. Unlike other fruit types, it’s not easy to remove the wood, so you really have to cut a chip, to insert it below the bark. If you have to cut a chip, why slice more of the bark, prie it open and create a greater wound?
The flaps tend to open when they dry, if not well secured (that’s why you have to use a stronger material to wrap it or fold the parafilm so you can tighten it more).

I haven’t experience a greater percentage of success with this technique when comparing it to chip-budding so, i don’t use it any more in figs.

Nevertheless, here’s a demonstration of the technique (give me some slack regarding the slowness - as i said, i don’t do it in figs anymore, so i’m out of practice)


I enjoyed those- clear, straightforward, and useful. Thanks.

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Thank you for the videos. I’m the guy who has discussed the comparative merits of chip budding vs T budding with you on F4F forum. While we had a different perspective I think we agreed to a reasonable extent.

I will say you are very skilled at chip budding. That’s an excellent video. You must have a very sharp knife. I’m going to sharpen my knife as best I can and try some chip buds using your techniques.

I don’t use the same T budding technique as you. First I don’t like digging around under the bark of the stock to loosen it. I push on the bark from the side using my finger nail. Second I slip the bud in from the top. You push it in from the side. That’s the major difference in our technique. You can do that on figs because the bark is thick and tough. Your side insertion will be a real liability on thin barked species like apricot. I do think your T bud shown would likely take because it’s on a fig but I don’t consider that a technique to copy or learn.

I hope my comments will be taken in the spirit of learning and with the respect you deserve as a skilled grafter.

May I ask please, is your knife sharpened on both sides or is it one sided?


I also slide the bud in from the top for a T-bud, like I would a scion for a bark graft.

An advantage of Chip budding is that you only need to master one type of cut.

An advantage for a T-bud, is you don’t have to exactly match the two cuts to get full cambium contact. I’d like a better match between bud and stock than what is demonstrated, but I assume he does match them closer when actually grafting and that is just showing the technique.

I prefer 1/2" parafilm for grafting. Seems easier to work with for me. For T-budding I use grafting rubbers. If I was worried about dessication, I’d go over the rubber with parafilm.

I like to stretch the parafilm at least 20% or so.

I noticed in the T-budding video that he wrapped over the leaf axil in the live demo, but left them out on the other buds on that stick. I leave them out of the grafting rubber for a T-bud, but remove the axil and cover the bud on a chip bud.

I don’t bud often, generally preferring doing traditional grafting of dormant scion wood to growing host in the spring. But maybe I’ll do some this weekend if I get a chance. It isn’t as exciting working with cultivars I already have.

edit: Let me add thanks to Jsacadura for the generous service of creating and sharing the video. I didn’t realize at first that those were his videos.


I’ll second that if I didn’t adequately already.

When T budding I’ve never found it necessary to cover the scion bud or the petiole stub. But perhaps doing so with chip buds would improve my success. I’ve also wrapped chip buds the same as T buds, namely tightly with budding rubbers. Perhaps wrapping chips more loosely with parafilm is better.


I’m not sure how much pressure is required for chip buds, but they can be cut in such a manner that there is essentially a a perfect match of two flat surfaces, so with good cuts, it shouldn’t take much to bring the two faces into perfect conformity with one another.

On a T-bud, you need some amount pressure to force the bark flaps to conform to the bulge of the bud, then you need to seal the inevitable gaps.



I appreciate immensely your comments and find extremely useful our exchange of ideas. We are always learning from others despite our own experiences.

Regarding the videos, i just wanted to show how easy it is to do a chip bud on figs. I still think it’s easier to learn for a beginner than t-budding for grafting figs.

Regarding my T-budding technique. I wouldn’t dream of digging like that under the bark if i were t-budding apricots, plums or peaches, but with those you don’t need to, because the bark is so thin that the bud slides in much more easily. Sometimes you don’t even need to open the flaps, when you do the T cut, the flaps open by themselves.

With figs that doesn’t happen. The bark is thicker (but it really depends on the age and maturity of the root stock) and the bud doesn’t slide into it easily. That’s why i find it easier to push the bud from the side so i don’t have to pry the flaps open too much, or have to make a little ramp like you did in you t-budding tutorial (that’s one more wound to heal on the bark, that i want to avoid, if i can)

That’s also why i cover the bud and petiole with parafilm when working with green scions (which is not necessary with other species, but is essential! to increase the percentage of success with figs).
After the cambiums fuse (2-3 weeks) i lift the parafilm and the petiole peels off with it - a sure sign that the graft has taken). Then i reapply new parafilm over the bud to give it time to start growing when he decides while staying protected against dehydration.

Notice the new tissue growth between the bud and the root stock and the middle point, where the chip sticks out of the chip slot (almost inevitable when chip-budding figs) and it’s not a problem, because that’s probably one of the points where the cambiums cross!
So again, no need to overthink the need to perfectly align cambiums. It’s probably much better, instead, to make sure they cross at some point.

If you leave a gap in the parafilm with fig buds they tend to dehydrate before the cambiums have a chance to fuse. That’s a mistake i used to do, and was copied from my grafting experiences with other species, where you don’t need to cover the bud and has cost me most of my grafts, when i first tried it with figs.

So, let’s be clear. What i showed is exclusively for grafting figs and shouldn’t be copied when grafting other fruit types.


I’d say if you take the wood out of a fig bud scion, there is a nearly perfect fit of a large area of cambiums. The cambium contact on my fig T buds is many fold more than the contact using a chip bud. I don’t view that as a particular advantage of T budding but it’s a fact. In addition with wood out the bark/cambium/bud that remains is pliable so with pressure makes a perfect fit to the cambium of the stock.

If you do a T bud with wood in then you are trying to fit a flat surface to a round surface both pretty hard. If the stock is bigger diameter than the scion wood it’s not much of a factor. But if the same size or scion is bigger diameter than the stock, T budding with wood in runs into issues of fit and tearing of stock bark flaps.

Surprisingly I’ve never seen a disadvantage to taking out the wood. It doesn’t damage the buds chances of growing even thou it seems brutal. If the bark isn’t slipping well or one is clumsy then taking out the wood from scion bud can mess up the bud.

That extra wound doesn’t hurt a thing. IMO pushing the bud in from the top is clearly better. But others have different skills and dexterity. I appreciate our exchanges. I’ve learned a lot.



That’s precisely my point when i say that chip-budding is easier.

When you learn those 2 cuts (the angled one and the sliding one) chip-budding will be second nature and i don’t find it’s necessary to overthink too much the other points (like cambium alignment - my chip-bus always fuse the cambium with the root stock - that is never the reason why some fail.

I find that most fails occur because, after fusing, you need to keep protecting the bud until it starts growing actively (specially if it’s a dormant bud) or some will dry out before they have a chance of waking up. Some stay dormant - a few may stay dormant for a couple of years until they finally wake up - and some never break bud, sometimes due to competition with the top growth and end up drying out also.
With fig trees, if you cut the top growth too soon, and the tree has other branches, the grafted branch tends to dry out very quickly, because the tree removes all the sap from a branch that has no growing buds.

Regarding parafilm. I think it’s an important part of the success of grafting figs when you chip-bud. I don’t need it when grafting other fruit types, but i find it increasingly important when grafting figs.

I use the 1’’ roll of parafilm because, when i need to apply more pressure (for instance, to secure more firmly the flaps in the T-bud, as you said), i can fold it and, that way, it resists better when you wrap it more firmly. That allow me to dispense the use of rubber bands. The parafilm does it all.

With chip-buds the force you need to apply is much less, but if you noticed, i wrap it around the top and bottom of the chip a few times, which ensures all the pressure needed.

One important point is to make only one pass over the bud and to stretch the parafilm to it’s maximum, in that pass. That way one assures that the bud as no difficulty in breaking and that it stays protected against dehydration until it does!


I agree entirely with what you say. Nevertheless, doing the chip-buds i found out that i don’t need all that large area of cambium contact for my grafts to work. After a few weeks they are fused perfectly, with lots of new growth between scion and stock.

I also agree that there is no disadvantage in removing the wood, rather the opposite. I also do Patch grafts with figs and that square of bark minus the wood, fits perfectly on larger diameter stocks (i’ve used it successfully on root stocks with 3 years old wood) where other grafting techniques would probably fail.

But when working with green buds, i find that, sometimes, when the bark is not slipping that well (or maybe because i am just clumsy and haven’t learned yet how to remove the wood properly) i mess up the bud, when trying to take the wood out, so i simply don’t risk it and just do the chip-bud instead. :slight_smile:

As i said in our final exchange in the fig forum - “What works for someone else, might not work for us and vice-versa. I never forget that, if i followed some recommendations, i would never had tried ‘Whip and Tongue’ for figs, but i did, and i can now say that it’s my most successful technique.”

Take care and good grafting.


Sorry, i just saw that i forgot to reply to the question about my grafting knives.

The one i’m using in the chip-budding is sharpened in both sides because i use it for lots of different techniques where that is necessary.

It’s probably easier to start chip-budding with a knife that’s only sharpened in one side (like the Vitorinox i’m using in the T-Bud video). That way you have more control and avoid ‘digging’ too much into the wood, like you can do with a knife sharpened in both sides. To me it’s not a problem, because i can control it better now that i’ve done several hundred chips.

Regarding the importance of a sharpened grafting knife - i will only say, it’s a must. It makes all the difference.

If i may be lazy and copy what i wrote in the fig forum about grafting knives:
'A sharp grafting knife is key to have good success in grafting. I have the good fortune of having very good craftsman in our country (there’s a small village in the north of Portugal, Trás-os-Montes region, village of Palaçoulo) which is famous for the knifes they make and that sell them cheap. Like this one, or this one.

They do make sharp knifes (they are known by ‘navalhas’ in portuguese - which is better translated by the word ‘razor’ and they should be razor sharp and be able to cut paper like we see in this video at min 3:20 - this is not a grafting knife but it’s made in the same region and with the same quality)

But you can also use this one, it’s also very good for almost all grafting jobs. This one is essentially a budding knife (because it’s sharpened on one side only). They have several grafting models but that one serves the purpose well.

Just be sure to keep it sharp if you end up doing lots of grafts. I use japanese sharpening stones of different grains (1000 to 5000) and sharpen them myself.’


An extraordinarily helpful exchange- thanks!


I just answered a question on the fig forum and i think it helps to clarify why i essentially use chip-budding. I mainly graft cuttings i receive in the spring (dormant woody cuttings) and sometimes i receive a few green cuttings in July-August.

Last September, a good friend was able to find a few forgotten fig trees and send me these precious cuttings of 4 very old Portuguese varieties almost extinct (Premagem, Quarteira Velha, Preto da Rocha and Pérola)

It was late September and, although the first and third cuttings had only first year wood, still quite green, with excellent bulging buds in the axil of the leaf petiole, it would be almost impossible to free the bud from the wood without destroying it.
I had never done Chip-budding so late in the year, but refrigerating the cuttings would be risky and trying to root them would also be a gamble, so i decided to graft them, knowing fully well that, if they took, they would stay dormant throughout the winter and, with luck, would brake bud in the spring.

The results exceeded my expectations. All the grafted buds were successful except the one’s from the Second! (edit) cutting in the photo, that hadn’t any visible buds (and most of it was second year wood).

The chips have fused well, but they are still dormant unlike all the others. The branches of the tree were i grated them were far from ideal and were a bit weak and had the competition of their siblings (i had used up my best root stocks when i received those unexpected cuttings) and that didn’t help.

Those chips are on the lower left, they are fused and may still break bud, next year.
Here they are in this next photo (all other chip-buds are growing well, except those that come from that cutting, but there’s still hope, specially the top one that has a bulging dormant bud). I had chip-buds that stayed dormant like this for 2 years until they finally wake up and they are growing fine.


I saved a variety I got last fall as well. It was a poorly rooted airlayer that finally died. But by T budding and cleft grafting I managed to save about 6 starts of a rare fig, the Luv variety. I also T budded about 50 plants of various varieties that I sold this spring. That was September budding forced in spring.

I tried about 20 chip buds in September as well. I can’t remember even one of those that survived. I thought the fit was OK to good. I did wrap them up tight with budding rubbers leaving the cut petiole exposed. Maybe they need parafilm to avoid desication even thou the T buds didn’t.


That’s precisely were i find these grafting experiences most important, They allow us to save varieties that are having problems (bad rooting or dying plant, like in your case). I have grafted chips from rooting cuttings where the lower half was fully rotted and i have saved the variety. But you can’t wait too long.

If the chip tissues are already affected (like the one on the next photo), the chip may fuse with the rootstock (almost all do, incredibly) but they will later continue to rot and don’t develop.

Regarding your bad experience with chip-budding…
Now i understand why you have such a negative impression about chip-budding. With this technique there is nothing to protect the chip from dehydration - the parafilm is absolutely essential to preserve an humid environment until the chip as a chance to fuse (and it should stay protected until it breaks bud).

In the following photos we can see that the chip even stays moist under the parafilm and sometimes condensates that humidity (that’s why is also important to use some kind of shade protection (i use aluminium film) so that the direct sun doesn’t ‘cook’ the buds inside the parafilm. I open the film when the bud breaks, but leave it shading the bud for a few more days until the initials leaves have formed fully.

A few photos to illustrate what i mean:

The protection must stay on at least until the petiole falls when touched (2-3 weeks - which confirms the graft success with green scions). Then, i will reapply the parafilm until the bud breaks.

Going through my old chip-bud photos, i found lots of chips where my execution was bad. Slots too long, chip too short, chips that were misaligned when stretching the parafilm, etc…

All those chips fused and developed as expected. That’s how forgiving this technique is, if you give the chip enough protection and time to develop. So, as i keep saying, don’t worry too much about chip position and cambium alignment.

Here’s a couple of examples to prove my point - i have many more:

All those chips developed into full grown branches with a good union:

Sorry for the long rant, just wanted to share a bit more of my experience with this technique.


My question there is why can a T bud have an unprotected bud/petiole stub and chip can’t? I’ve had nearly 100% takes with exposed petiole stubs on T buds. And not just figs but everything else.

This works for T budding.

Two to three weeks later you end up with this:


Awesome videos. Love the music, especially. :relaxed:

You’re a really good bud grafter.

Edit: Say I wanna get me a knife like that big one. What brand is it and where should I look to find one at a good price?



The graft is much more protected against dehydration inside the bark in the T-bud graft, even if the bud is showing. And the moisture level inside the greenhouse probably helps also (if i do that graft, using only the rubber, outside in my zone, in September, it would probably dry out - at least when grafting figs that i find extremely sensible to loss of moisture)

With the chip-bud the graft is much more exposed and it would dry much more easily when using only a rubber to protect it, so the use of parafilm is a must (being more sensible to the loss of moisture, this graft would fail much more if you don’t protect it well, probably even inside your greenhouse).

At least that’s what i think has happened in your case.


Thanks, Dax.

On one of the messages above i mentioned where i bought my grafting knife and included 2 links to grafting knives similar to the one i’m using - the website is and searching for ‘enxertia’ they should appear. These are all handmade and i believe the website sends abroad, if you can’t find anything similar over there.

The one i’m using in the video, is no longer available on that website. It’s also handmade by craftsman Gilberto Ferreira Aveleda and can still be found here - Navalhas Mirandesas

Those listed are almost identical to mine, minus the ‘bump’ that it’s used to lift the bark in some grafting techniques.