Grafting late blooming scion onto early blooming rootstock?

I have a Anna apple tree, about 8 feet high, that I’ve grafted onto many times. The grafts will take, and maybe grow a little the first year (but more often not), and then just sit there for years still alive but doing nothing. I’ve increased my fertilizing and watering for the last two years, but that hasn’t brought any of the grafts to life.

Grafts on other apple trees have somewhat better luck, taking and growing…but there still are too many that take and then do little or nothing.

I recently bought an Anna to use as a grafting platform, from Walmart of all places, because it had many graftable branches. And there was a Dorset Golden there also with many useable branches that I wanted to buy… but I’ve started wondering if I should be matching the scionwood variety bloom times with those of the rootstock… Most of the scionwood I have are varieties that ripen later and presumably also push and bloom later than the Anna and Dorset Golden.

I’d like to hear some opinions about this idea, is it just idle speculation or do it have some merit?

Another possible explanation for the problem is that I haven’t paid much attention to when the tree is starting to push, and just grafting when I got around to it which could be a month before the tree came alive, or after it had been leafing out (and even blooming) for a month. This year I’ve corrected that and am doing the grafting on the tree’s schedule instead of mine.

Any thoughts on this?


Hi John. My Anna was discounted at a BB store and I bought it to use as scion wood. I only grafted one limb on the Anna to Stripe June and it actually grew more than the Anna part. From what I have read Anna is a low vigor, spur bearing tree which might be causing your low graft vigor. At 8’ I’m guessing that it is already blooming and setting fruit which will also decrease vigor. Scion wood from the Anna that I grafted to three other trees are growing well. Good luck, Bill


The issue may not have anything to do with the bloom time of the understock. One factor may be that you don’t get enough chilling to make the late blooming apples happy. I’m in about the same chill zone as you, probably more. Apples here even on MM111 sometimes lack vigor. The reason is lack of chilling not for flowering but for the leaf buds.

My impression is that Anna lacks vigor so may be acting as a dwarfing interstem.

Lastly if grafted out on branch ends there just isn’t enough “juice” pushing the new scion.

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Chillingwise, this year from Nov through Feb 846 hours below 45F. This was a warm winter. Including Mar gets it up to 967 hours. Previous winters have been 1000-1100 hrs. One of the non-growing grafts on the Anna was a Golden Russet. I also grafted it onto a Gala (containered) and it seemed to grow normally there but not super vigorously. Those were close to a decent branch, or the main trunk. But I did graft more at end of branches before I figured out that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do…although sometimes that’s where the scionwood fits…

This Anna definitely wouldn’t qualify as vigorous, but I dug it up and transplanted it when it was 3-5 years old, and I always wondered if that might have set it back permanently. Another Anna, in a container, isn’t vigorous either growth-wise, but it’s been blooming 3-5 times a year for the past two years…so that’s some kind of vigor.

I remain puzzled by this, but I think you’re right about grafting at the ends of branches…I’m avoiding that as much as possible now.