How do you match the right scion to a rootstock?

I’ve only heard a few references to this in a video, and I can’t find any information. How do you match a rootstock to scion (or do you)? For example, if I get G-41 or M.111, are there certain scions of an apple variety I should get to match them? Or can I use any scion for the most part?

There are occasionally incompatibilities between certain rootstocks and varieties of scionwood, but I think it’s pretty rare in apples.


G41 and honeycrisp are not a good match. Weak graft unions can lead to breaks once the tree is older.
Other than that, there aren’t many I know of. A vigorous rootstock can help push growth on a weaker growing variety, and a weaker growing rootstock can slow down more vigorous varieties. It’s more about what you want.


You cannot graft kumquats to seville sour orange rootstock. I used a poncirus trifoliats to span between the scion and roots

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Apple wise, it’s pretty easy to make selections and run with it from what I understand. The confusion begins when you start to graft stone fruits to other species of stone fruits, or apples to hawthorn or (as I recently found out) pears, serviceberry, aronia or other distant relatives. There are some very helpful threads about this in the reference section.

I’m no pro by any means, but I’ve grafted roughly 60 apples of ~30 varieties, all on MM.111 or G.41. I think I’ve had 2-3 failures. The failures were all cases where the scion was significantly smaller than the rootstock.

When you asked “how do you match” I assumed you meant size. I do whip & tongue grafts, if possible. That’s best if the scion and rootstock have the same diameter. That way, there can be a cambium match on both sides.

So basically, I try to find scions and rootstocks of the same diameter. I use a micrometer, but that may be overkill. With approximately matching diameters, there’s very rarely a failure. If the scion is smaller, then I go with either a cleft graft or a bark graft.


I also used a small adjustable crescent wrench as a micrometer. My take rate improved significantly.

The people on the YouTube videos just eyeball it I notice. I’m not too proud to admit I need training wheels.

Buddy tape helped a lot too.


Humility is a good thing.

Sticks are also not perfectly round, so sometimes you can improve the match by rotating the stick.


For apples, my experience has lead me to prefer to favor a more vigorous rootstock than I originally used to think I’d need. I’ve found with a lot of deer browsing on my trees, etc. I’d rather have a bit more vigor and do some summer pruning to control size than have a tree that lacks vigor and never gets to the size and fruit production I had expected. This is particularly true of varieties like goldrush that become productive very early and become all spurs and no new vegetative growth if you aren’t careful.

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Thanks. I didn’t think about diameter.

Actually, though, I meant type or variety. I saw someone that said don’t put apple x, for example, with this rootstock y because the scion variety was susceptible to such-and-such disease and so is rootstock y. I didn’t know if that was a big concern or not, as I had never heard that before.

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No prob. The best approach re disease would be to select rootstock with low susceptibility to the disease(s) of concern. On that basis, G.41 and MM.111 work well here as my default choices for dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstock. But there are other options too.

Are you worried about the g41 breaking?

Any graft union is a weak point on a tree. I don’t think G.41 forms a weaker graft union that other rootstocks. Any recently grafted tree should be staked to reduce stress on the graft. And the stake should be taller than the tree, so that birds perch on the stake rather than the tree.

G.41 is a dwarfing rootstock. Like many other dwarfing rootstocks, it is precocious – fruit comes quickly. And like many other dwarfing rootstocks, it is productive. It’s typical for a dwarfing rootstock to produce so much fruit on a young tree that branches can break. Or the graft union can break. But this is a problem of dwarf trees generally, not G.41 specifically. Conequerntly, dwarf trees require staking of central leaders and benefit from trellising of branches.

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I didn’t know that two years ago and grafted Fortunella japonica and a Nagami seedling on sour orange seedlings. So far they look great

I have red that they are incompatible and all my grafts died within days. I tried Meiwa and Fukushu… some reading.,%20FSHS.%20Kumquat%20Calamondin%20Compatibility.pdf Could you post some pictures. Mine grafte 15 months ago on flying dragon.

This yearsngraft done 5 months ago is just starting to grow. The tree in the picture of Fukushu on PT on seville is a month younger that the Fukushu on flying dragon 5 months old.

I read that too, but I can make a picture tomorrow.

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The OP was unclear as to what was being matched. But the example given is literally apples-to-apples. So I assumed we were talking grafts within the same species. Inter-species compatibility is a whole 'nother issue.

Yes it got a little off topic, but for I think u/Kellogg_Hill_Farms answer is pretty comprehensive for apples. It just comes down to vigor and preference.
I would just like to add that some old varieties don’t do well on dwarfing rootstock. The fruit don’t develop right, get to big and drop early with physiological disorders like watercore. Gravenstein on M9 would be an example

It’s a published fact that G41 has weak graft unions with Honeycrisp and Gala. There are multiple sources that have published this information.

Was the weakness mostly on budded trees? I thought I remember reading that whip and tongue and cleft grafts were less likely to have an issue, particularly if staked.