Grafting for complete beginners?

Hello all
I have a peach and plum tree that didn’t make the winter, and I was advised to recycle the rootstock which did. I was told they’re both likely plum stock, and the vigorous growth looks identical. I have no idea how to do this, or where to start. I’d be happy with either peaches or plums. I imagine I could get required cuttings from the nursery.
So any Goofballs Guide to Grafting?

Get some pencil-thick Japanese plum scionwood (Methley, Santa Rosa, Superior, etc, or whatever variety the local farmers are growing) and do some simple cleft grafts on like-sized branches in the spring like those shown in this video from forum member Applenut:


Great video Matt, thanks. Would grafting now (early summer) be out of the question for plum and peach?

If you have a sizeable understock, then there’s no harm in trying now (except risk of introducing disease through the cuts, so keep your knife sterilized with rubbing alcohol). If you fail, just prune out the losers and try again later (you can always try chip-budding plums in August).

The challenge now is the grafts can easily cook or dehydrate in super-hot sunshine, so wrap 'em close and tight. With that said, the grafts should get some sunshine. The understock needs to be high enough to be out of the weeds. The grafts should also be ensured apical dominance.

Another challenge is the trees have already had their initial flush of growth for the season. So you’ll want to make sure they are well-watered, and you might consider applying a liquid dillution fertilizer (with nitrogen) right after you place your grafts.

I hear peaches are more challenging than plums. I have had success grafting the latter, but have not yet tried grafting the former (partly out of intimidation). I’ll let other forum members speak to the question of peaches; I’m not an expert on that subject yet.

I have no doubt that day will come, Matt.

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I agree with matt in MD. ALso check out bud grafting on youtube, chip or T bud grafting is very common and successful starting about this time of year, depending on where you live.
John S

Thanks Matt and folks. I’ll need to do a bit of reading when I have time. Ideally I’d like to do it all now - cut samples from healthy trees and graft in the root stocks I have in ground. But it looks like it may be more complex and season critical than that.

By the way, here’s one of the trees in question. I assume the sugar prune grafted to it (on the left) died, as there’s been no green from it. The rootstock is basically the whole tree now. Where would be advisable to graft a peach or plum? Also, could both varieties be on 1 rootstock?
As a side, next to this tree are 3 large Ume plum trees (local sour plum) that had been let go and I cut back to stumps a couple months ago. Would they make better graft candidates?

The trees are just starting to push out some growth, some buds as well. Are scions made of this type of wood no good, as it’s only type I can get right now.
Regarding the tree pictured above, What would be advisable?
Could I graft into pencil sized rootstock branches different varieties? Would the rootstock below the grafts constantly be trying to push out rootstock growth?
Or Cut those three trunks off and barkgraft three different plum varieties in like this fellow?

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If I do several cleft graphs onto several branches, what’s to stop the root stock branches from taking over? Wouldn’t I have to chop them all off?

Good question -and no easy answer. It isn’t uncommon for the original cultivar to dominate, and removing some of the competing branches is part of the answer. For the rest of the answer you have to consider how you’ve started the tree out in the first place.

If you were to go out to a random, established tree and stick a few scions here and there then yes, the rootstock (or at least the original cultivar which was grafted to the rootstock) would be the greater part of the tree, and your babies will produce a few fruit here and there.

If you were to buy a decent whip, a two-three year old tree or branched whip, then you have the chance to push the first cultivar into a less dominant position, and there are at least a couple of ways to do this.

Most common, and what I’ve done, is let the tree grow up some, but replace some of the main branches, the scaffolds, with new varieties of your choice. Everything on those grafted-on branches will always be your new varieties (unless you choose to whack it, or parts of it, off and put something else there.)

Another way, and something I want to do should I live long enough, is to “stack” varieties- the first several feet would be the original grafted-on variety, and it would be allowed to throw off perhaps three scaffold branches- one or two of which might be grafted over to something else. The second two-three feet would be a new variety vertically replacing the first, and so on. Mind, I’m assuming that it would be a central leader pruning.

Pruning to a vase would let you have three or four main trunks, each of which could be a new variety, and each of which could be somewhat worked over depending on your design - could get complicated!

Good luck to you, have fun, and stay in touch.

: -)M


Watch a bunch of Youtube videos or get one of these tools. V-grafts/Omega grafts aren’t the best, but I started off with these and had a lot of successful grafts before I moved on to other types.

A lot of grafting success also requires good timing, especially with peaches.

I only have access to Psion wood at the same stage as the rootstock – it’s just starting to bud up . Does the still have a possibility of working?
I was going to try that cleft graft you described above, and only leave one branch of the native rootstock to keep the system flowing for a while. Hardy plum rootstock as I described above from our unsuccessful plum graft, and all the Psion will be different varieties of plum. Good plan?
I don’t have fancy paint or tape. Can I just use backward electrical tape, and wood glue as an alternative?

2 on left from a fancy plum. 3 on right from tough standard plum. Just picked these scions. All that was available today. Will try tonight to graft.

Your scions are a little far along, and a little skinny, which won’t help but also doesn’t automatically doom the graft. You might tent the finished graft to help prevent dessication until it takes.

The backward tape and wood glue should work well- but be careful that the glue doesn’t seep into the joint.

Thank you. Should I chop them down to about three buds, eliminating the tips in the process?
Or leave as is?
Is cleft grafting still advisable given how small they are, or should I use a different technique to graft?

Yes- and the cleft is a great choice, especially for early attempts. Bark grafts might appeal to you too, and would be good here.

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Thank you. Should I break off all the buds on the scion, or leave the remaining 3 buds intact?

Leave them on, but take off the terminal bud.

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How’s this for cuts?

The rootstock tree pictured above is still bare of foliage. To match such small scion with equal diameter rootstock for cleft graph, I’ll only need a few small branches. Should all the branches then be hacked back to the trunk, with the exception of one branch to keep the tree system active?