Grafting to bareroot rootstock

If I wish to graft to newly acquired Apple rootstock, should I wait for them to push buds a bit or not?

Assuming the rootstocks were kept in cold storage and have not broken dormancy.


I grafted mine as soon as I got them. I am pretty sure that bench grafting :+1: I potted them up as soon as I grafted them and I am having a very great rate of takes so far. To me that is a good sign that it was the right thing to do.

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I have bout 40 rootstocks that are growing in wet media…simply because I’ve not gotten around to grafting them. They do seem to take off a bit faster, but I am unable to claim one has a better overall success rate than the other. (Dormant vs leafy rootstocks).
I’ll just say this…I had 80-something in 2017 and 2018 and 70-something in 2019 take rate.

Looking like this year will be over 90 percent a ‘take’…certainly it is with 20 of the first 22 early March apple grafts having ‘taken’ for sure, and the 2 others probable/ uncertain as of right now. Even some I grafted Sunday are already growing…5 days. (Those early March grafts were to existing potted trees, not to dormant rootstocks.)

Counting pears and pawpaw, I’ve made around 100 grafts so far, and will probably graft to most of the 40 rootstocks I still have available. I also intend to top work 2 or 3 seedling mulberries if I find the time.


Apples are pretty forgiving… This year I received rootstock on a Thursday, then that weekend I pulled scions out of the fridge and grafted. They went straight into dirt, in pots close to my back door, in full sun. Close enough that I can keep them well hydrated although so far this year mother nature has been taking care of that. Parafilm and grafting compound/wax/sealer over that to make sure no moisture loss at the union… Last year 90%+ takes this way.


Last year for some reason I was under 80% but this year looks to be above 90%.

Only disappointment was no new red fleshed apple scions to graft…just duplicates of previous ones.

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What mix of soil, compost, other material are folks using to temporarily pot bareroot apple and peach trees. It is too early to safely plant outside here, but peach trees ordered from California have already leafed out, and the apple rootstock is showing signs of losing dormancy.

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I just bought potting soil (some from Lowes and other bags of it from Rural King) and I had some composted manure that I mixed in some as well. Time will tell if I did the right thing or not :+1:

I’ve read that regular potting soil is not a good choice for trees, but that may only be for trees that are going to be in the pot for a long time. I ended up using a combination of ground dirt and manured compost, but moving the heavy pots inside and outside isn’t fun, and lighter weight potting soil all of a sudden seemed to be very attractive.


Right. You don’t want too high a percent of vermiculite and fine peat particles ….
what you want is “topsoil”.

And what Lowe’s has for $1.59 or $1.99 ain’t worth much except to stretch some better soil.
Or some real dirt from the ground mixed in.

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The potting soil I used was not much different than the composted manure. It was not the type you normally see when buying potted flowers or plants from a nursery. When I mixed them together you couldn’t tell much of a difference. I figured it would be loose enough to let roots develop for a year before setting my new trees out but not much more than that.

Don’t forget to sprinkle Osmocote or some other brand of slow release fertilized on the pots.
(You don’t want to apply liquid fertilizer all summer.)
I got less than 5 feet of growth on my best 2019 grafts…so even with slow release fertilizer, not that vigorous. (But disease pressure is less if they grow at a slower rate.)

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I will have to look osmocote up…