How do you care for new bench grafts?

I didn’t find any threads about caring for new bench grafts, and definitely only a few speckled comments on fertilization. I thought it would be a useful thread.

What does successful care of new bench grafts look like, by species? Do you use different approaches for grafts going into containers versus in ground, year one?

Some specific topics would be fertilization and direct sunlight… how much and when do you allow it?

I bought several apple bench grafts before I became confident I could graft successfully. They each were planted in the ground with a cylinder of hardware cloth to keep the cats, squirrels & robins from playing leapfrog over them. The one that failed had been knocked loose before arrival, but I was too unaware to realize it until later. The others did fine in full sun, rather poor soil with a bit of compost or cured manure added & a dusting of mulch.
At a nearby orchard I helped graft hundreds of bench grafts. We put 'em in the ground without
ceremony. His percentage was poorer than mine.
I’ve since bench grafted & put it into a pot, which was harder to care for. Once a potted graftling was in the ground a couple years later, it did much better. Ask Quill about caring for potted trees. She mastered that years ago; much better than me on that score.

1 Like

@Emberly - Thanks for posting up here! Welcome, and good info. How long do you keep your apple bench grafts in the shade, before hardening them off for full sun?

All, I had about an 80% 3-month survival rate on my 30 apple bench grafts. The 5 that were struggling and had just tiny leaves for the first 2 months were mostly very thin grafts (1/8-ish" scion) or scion that had already started to leaf out.

Almost all the rootstocks are now have small leaves (I had pulled off most RS buds), some coming from below ground. Can anyone here speak to re-grafting apple rootstocks?

Specifically - can I re-graft the rootstock several inches above where it’s leafing out, or do I have to wait until the new growth lignifies and cut off everything above that? How much growth/leafing should the rootstock have before I attempt to re-graft?

Here are a couple of mine that failed or appear to be failing, but the rootstocks are growing: