Grafting thread 2021

I don’t think we have one for 2021, let me start it.

I want to start with a question. There are a lot of information here and generally online about how to collect and store scion wood and even more about different grafting techniques. But what I couldn’t find anywhere - it is how to choose a branch on your tree to graft to and how to prepare it for grafting and maintain after grafting - assuming you still want your old tree to produce. If anybody can point me to such discussion or video, it would be great. So far I had 3 successful field grafts out of about 10, successful, meaning they are alive. But both sit as spurs with no new growth. I suspect, it is something about how I have chosen the place to graft to.


No discussion or video that I can think of, but that’s a concern of mine too, since all my grafting is on established trees.

It’s my thought that, other things being equal, higher on the tree is better because of apical dominance. Closer to the trunk is better, and exposure is a consideration.

I make a habit of notching the tree immediately above the graft. Seems to help the graft take off.

Not all grafts in a given area flourish, but the lower ones seem more likely to have issues.

Smaller branches are easier to graft to than larger ones, for me.

And I’m sure open to discussion!


I am not sure I understand it. Let’s say you have a branch coming from the trunk of 3-4 years old tree that forks at some point. So you have two choices: cut it near the trunk and graft or cut one part of the fork short and graft there. Where would you notch the tree in each case?

I experienced something similar grafting onto a crabapple planted by the city in my old place. It was pretty bigand I couldn’t get anywhere near the top, nor cut it back to top work it. Most of the grafts I did took, but they were down low and even after two seasons they never resulted in a new branch, just kind of maintained what was there.


And another question. Can you graft to a central leader? I have 5 years old tree that about 5 fit tall if you do not count long central leader. Can I cut it short and try to graft to it? The idea is to get existing cultivar on lower level and new one on top.

Took my newer Fuji tree last spring and removed the central leader at around 7 feet up. Grafted on a new variety. The tree is currently over 10 feet tall…so you guessed it, the grafted new leader took off great. (Rootstock is M111 and in 4 or 5 years has not bloomed nor had any fruit yet, but possibly this year.) We’re talking a tree over 10 feet tall and well branched.


In either case I would notch just above the point where the branch originates from the tree. But I would also consider grafting to both branches, partly depending on how far from the tree the fork was. I think it’s generally better to graft closer to the trunk, but I also don’t like grafting to stock that’s more than, say, three times the diameter of the scion. So it kind of depends.

Also, what @BlueBerry says about grafting a new central leader in. I think it’d be very neat to have three varieties stacked that way, each with two or three scaffold branches grafted over to different varieties still!

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I have one stubborn tree - Yellow transparent - that just didn’t take a single graft so far. I tried several years in a row. This time I will try the leader!


Regarding low or high: With espalierd trees, the higher cordons are usually more vigorous. I’m suspect that transfers over to other maintenance sytems too.


Make your graft the highest bud on the tree. Otherwise it may or may not force.


I put a Korean Giant on a Chojuro that way and is fine.

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@SkillCult has a few videos on top working/ frankentrees/notching to push growth on his youtube channel, but I’m not sure that he’s talked specifically to selecting a good location for a single new variety in an otherwise in tact/producing tree. Any chance you want to make the world a video like that Steven (if you read this)? I know I for one would watch intently.


I can address that a little. It often doesn’t work great to add one thing into a tree. If there is a lot of other growth on the tree, and especially in that area, it will often just favor that growth. One strategy I use a lot, and was just doing today on a viking graft, is to isolate it a little by removing some of the growth right near it. You can also try notching to force the bud. Just cut a shallow notch through the bark just above the bud, on the top side of the bud (toward growing tip).I do add random stuff here and there, but I usually try to isolate it a little like that and notch if it’s not responding. If I have a bunch of scions to do, I’ll often chose one area of the tree, or branch and graft everything there, so all, or most of the old growing points are removed, which drives growth into the new grafts.


A question on that front- if I plan an espalier tree, is it better to put the more vigorous scion lower, and then later add the less vigorous scion on higher tiers? Or should I plan on matching vigor? I am trying to plan out what I do.

Low vigor on top makes a lot of sense. Of course, on a ‘frankentree’ that can cause the tree to grow wider than tall if corrective pruning isn’t done.


my y. transparent took 2 liberty grafts last summer. :wink:


In my experience the type of wood, position on the tree and a number of other things are species specific. I know that grafting side branches does not work for tropical guava in my experience. But this the only problematic species I met so far. A note on time of wood collecting and grafting I just put together a couple of days ago here Gardening : Grafting deciduous and evergreen trees in Sacramento Valley


I have a lot of experience grafting to existing trees, I have 75 or so in the orchard and have upwards of 100 varieties on them. This statement may or may not be a condition of my area (Alaska) because of the short and very explosive growing season. That being considered the most important thing I have identified for success is the timing of your grafting. When grafting to an existing apple tree here, performing the graft at the green tip stage is the key. Of course you have to have a good scion, make a good union, keep the graft clean, stop dehydration of the scion by applying a sealant on the end, and proper and adequate Parafilm application at the union. I typically try to find a piece of scion that matches the diameter to the branch I am grafting to. I used to use a whip and tongue graft, but with more practice I now typically just do a whip and seal well with parafilm. If I am grafting very different sized scion to a branch I perform a bark graft. I often graft to the leader of young trees with good success using a whip graft. One thing to consider with just doing a whip graft are robins and other birds perching on them, so I put a couple of layers on and make sure it is very stout. Other points made by other posters in this thread are also important IMO. Density of the branches, as marknmt suggested a notch in the trunk will encourage the branch below to grow (I have also used that strategy with a dormant bud to encourage it to grow), it doesn’t always work but certainly worth a try if trying to encourage a branch to grow on say the north side of the tree etc…


Terry, what cultivar of honeyberry do you have in your avatar? those are huge!


Hi Steve, those are not only big but my favorite, Aurora is the name. The U of Saskatchewan. (Dr. Bohrs) has developed some other varieties that are now being released some are actually a bit bigger, Boreal Beauty, Boreal Blizzard, and Boreal Beast. The Brix is a little lower but still very good and better than most of the older varieties. Don’t know how to add a photo they are very big! Here is a link to the website you can research their very interesting fruit program.

Haskap - University of Saskatchewan Fruit Program - University of Saskatchewan