How do you determine the right time to graft plums?

Continuing the discussion from Multi graft plum planning: need suggestions:

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Good questions Muddy. I’ll be watching this thread.

Hey Muddy,

Get lots of budwood in Feb. Begin grafting as soon as winter loosens its grip on SC, doing clefts and saddles. Give them as much sun and apical dominance as possible. Water the understock during dry spells. Wait a few weeks to determine winners and losers. Keep remaining budwood in the frig. Cut out the losers and try again, using same methods. Wait a few weeks and repeat. You will eventually have as many winners as you need. This is what I do. It’s a numbers game. Keep grafting through spring and summer as needed. You will achieve your goal if you keep at it!


Thank you, Matt. Maybe I can get my head around this and be ready for the next go round. Once upon a time I kept very detailed calendar notes on gardening observations. I haven’t done that for many years now.

I think part of my problem is that winter isn’t something that usually sets in and makes itself at home here. It’s more like a battle between the arctic air mass trying to dip down to antagonize us and the Gulf air giving us temps in the 60’s to 80’s. Winter doesn’t usually grip us. Instead, it repeatedly visits long enough to rough us up and remind us who’s boss.

We had, for us, a very late (brief but destructive) freeze on March 29th this year. Winter had come late and given us a colder than normal February. The blooming sequences started later than usual, and were more compressed. For instance, the first daffodils usually bloom Jan 18th or a few days later. (That’s the time to start planting peas.) This year it was Feb 6th.

On March 29th the plums had all passed petal fall, peaches had completed blooming but still retained shucks, cherries were nearing the end of their blossoms, and Fuji apple blossoms were just opening.

I don’t know if any of that information is helpful at all. But might it mean that late Feb to mid-March might be the proper time to start here?

With peaches I kept reading to wait until the weather would be holding in the mid-70’s for awhile. I think that’s late Sept or Oct here. ( I might as well confess as many of my misconceptions as possible at one time.) That thought was probably far off base. Summer generally means temps in the upper 90’s and low 100’s with infrequent rain until late summer. Even established trees get stressed through summer. Very little growth takes place.

Sorry if that seemed a bit rambly. If I knew what was relevant, I’d probably wouldn’t have any questions.


I read this the other night, and though it about summed up the wonderful benefits of a community like this one. You can browse, and ask, and finally learn what you should have asked in the first place! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


I decided to test Drew’s grafting experience in my area- when he claimed to get best results grafting around first growth my first reaction was, “how could that be right?” because it contradicted my own experience here. But after thinking about it it seemed that he must know what he’s talking about, at least as applies to his region. The thing I couldn’t figure out is how his region would create a situation where timing would be so different than here in S. NY besides him maybe having more warm clear days in early spring.

Then I tried to remember when I started using parafilm on stone fruit grafts and it seems it was right around when I started waiting until after petal fall to graft- hmmm maybe my anecdotal experience was not being properly analyzed and the parafilm was the significant issue.

So this year I started grafting shortly after first growth, then again 10 days later and again 10 days after that. The early grafts are pushing leaves. so I’m beginning to believe the issue was parafilm most of all.

I will come back with more on this in a few weeks when all the evidence comes in.


I wrapped all my scion with parafilm. I’ve grafted plum early like April 21 when buds started to push. No issue. I have 100% takes on 15+ grafts. I had almost 100% takes last year, too.

In fact, I grafted a Howard Miracle on 4/21 upside down. After a couple of weeks, the graft started to push buds. That’s when I realized my mistake. I took the graft out. The wood was still nice and green. I grafted it to another tree. I checked the graft yesterday. It looks like the graft is taking. To me plum is so easy.

I was surprised to read on another thread that you grafted plum very late. Plum and cherry are one of the earliest grafts of the year for me. Then, apples and pears.

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So I assume I can start grafting J. plums early as well. The thing is that if I graft apples late they don’t do so well but peaches and plums keep growing well through summer. E. plums can be difficult- you have to keep the leaf hoppers and aphids off of them to keep them growing so early grafting may be particularly helpful- the same problem with apples.

This ain’t the first time my anecdotal conclusions have led me astray- I’m used to that by now. Best to stay skeptical and keep an open mind.

Here’s Reema grafted on 4/21/18. It has grown almost two feet.


OK, I’m a convert to early grafting of plums. Thank you, that is impressive.

I believe you will love that plum- it likely will bear heavily next season given how quickly it is growing there. Even my much later grafts established very quickly and I had a ton of fruit by the third year. The flavor is similar to Laredo, but Laredo barely set this year while Reema is a burden to thin, just like last year and last year most of the high quality J. plums didn’t not set well at all. If this continues, Reema will be my favorite J. plum for being both extremely grower friendly and also high quality.

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What was the harm in parafilm that made it the problem, and what did you do instead that worked? Or maybe I am misreading your post.

No, the opposite. I had much better success with plums once I started using a thin type of parafilm.


Oh! I did misread it- thanks for setting me straight. Now that I read it again I see my mistake.

With all this wildly warm weather my Shiro plum is starting to show signs of growth, at the same stage as the photo below. Is now a good time to graft? Seems a bit early to me but I guess I could always use your strategy of redoing the graft if it fails.

Weather forecast is supposed to stay well above freezing but rainy for the next week. The 8-14 day forecast also predicts well above average temps for this time of the year. That being said our last frost date is not until April 20th

Everything seems early this year. Plum grafting is easy and seems forgiving. You can do it now or wait a couple more weeks. I grafted plum after they flowered with no issue.


I grafted plums early last year and had a much higher failure rate than usual. Re-grafting worked though. This year I am going to wait for a little warmer, give me some 70’s.

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I have grafted cherry, plms, apples, pears with temp around 50’s for high and 40’s for low.

Peaches and nectarines are done in a warmer temp in high 60’s (70’s if possible).


Well i went ahead and grafted my plums - temps are supposed to be mid 30’s to high 50’s for the next few days. All cleft grafts with scion fully wrapped in parafilm, then electrical tape to close the graft union as tight as possible and foil to reduce drying out due to sun.

Got plenty of scion left incase there are failures thanks to several generous forum members!

Ill let you guys know how things look in 2-3 weeks.

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Three weeks later it looks like 13 of the grafts are just starting to leaf out and 2 are likely failures. Tomcot apricot on Shiro plum is doing okay so far, not sure how long it takes graft incompatibility to become apparent.

Decided to remove the foil because the next few days are supposed to be rainy / overcast with a High of high 60s and a Low of high 40s. Figure the graft union should be healed enough by now to avoid drying out.


Your grafts are much more organized on the tree than mine. Congrats.
Mine were done a while back and done so haphazardly that it now looks messy.