New Apple Grafter in Need of Advice

Hello, new forum member here!

I have gotten started in Apple grafting this year and am looking for some help. First of all, I will provide some history of how my apple younglings have gotten to where they are. Apple scions were grafted to b118 or m7 on March 19 and immediately potted for easy moving. Apples were then stored under a humidified tent in my dark garage for 2 weeks to allow grafts to heal. The apples were then moved to a porch where they initially were provided an hour of morning sun each day. Zone 7 in Tennessee. Each week since, I have moved them to allow slightly more sun each day. At the moment, the trees receive sun from about 7am to 1pm each day. Currently about 75% of them have grown shoots 6 inches or longer. So I think those grafts may have took!

Now where my question arises: I have noticed that some of the apples are wilted after receiving sun by around noon or so. Then after the sun moves so they are shaded for a few hours, they perk back up. Pictures are below of the same apple wilted, then after recovering.

Any ideas what would lead to this? A small pest I can’t see? I already ridded them of aphids and a caterpillar that are one of them Lol. I read that root rot can lead to wilting. Too much sun too soon? Has anyone had their grafted apples do this?

Any help is appreciated!


And the same tree after “recovering”.

You’ve got a lot of top growth there and it’s all pumping moisture from the pot and it, that is, the top growth, needs more water. Obviously that could be caused by underwatering, but I’m betting you’re keeping a close eye on that. So my bet would be that the roots just aren’t quite developed enough for the amount of sun they’re getting. (Strangely enough, overwatering can cause leaves to wilt too, but they don’t recover so quickly in that case as yours look to be.)

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I appreciate your observations!

Speaking of roots, the rootstock actually had more roots than the store-bought bare-root trees I purchased this year. And interestingly enough, these grafts are growing shoots faster than my store bought trees. So maybe these grafted trees are overly ambitious and need less sun?

In regards to watering, I water when I can sink my finger 2 inches deep in the potting soil, and it feels just barely damp. I read that overwatering leads to root rot, while underwatering leads to the callous/union failing by desiccation. I am not 100% confident I have found the proper middle ground yet.

I think so. And I think you’re paying close attention to everything, But if your trees are perky in the morning but saggy in the sun I’d say they’re not getting too much water. I think they’re just getting a little too much sunlight and they’ll be fine as soon as the roots catch up.


Mine were doing the same, so I moved them to a little more shade and they seem to be doing alot better now.


Good advice. Don’t move them out of a dark place into full sun…that is asking for troubles. Speckled shade under trees is where mine have stayed since March 17.


Sounds like lessening the sun exposure a bit might be the way to go. I guess the next logical question would be about what time of year would most of you have typically moved grafts to full sun?

Also, I while I’m thinking about it, what about spraying newly grafted apples? I have a spray schedule that works quite well for my 20 or so established apple trees. Should the same pesticides and fungicides be used on these newly grafted trees? Any I should avoid? Any I should add?

Thanks once again for all the advice thus far!

Some varieties are more prone to this condition than other. Even on in-ground root stock that is well established in the nursery we will still see this on occasion. The initial burst of growth is very “soft” and tends to wilt with exposure to heat and even more so on windy days. It always corrects itself in our experience especially as the growth begins to harden off (become more woody). Keep a tab on the pot moisture level though as the more leaves become established on the growth the more water uptake it will demand.


I too agree it is a hydration issue. I like a bud or two or three above the scion but not more than that. Please let me switch my directions / comments to cuttings…

Not to change the subject at all but many things are similar to grafting / budding.

Please, pick out what is useful to you and dismiss the rest…
I try to put two nodes / buds pruned away and in a nice deep seed starting mix. I want some leaf tissue above as there are more chemical / physiological issues going on (some we have figured out and more than we have yet to figure out.)

You can cut back all the leaves below and just leave a few snipped leaves above: leave just a bit of the actual leaf on the cutting… Nice and tiny to reduce moisture loss.
As far as wilting, it is a hydration issue… If you rig up a mini-greenhouse and put it outdoors before going to work, the greenhouse will be hot enough to make a rotisserie chicken! Inside undter household lighting you will have better luck. Either way a 10% success rate is… well…a success.

I know I am just giving just a few suggestions to directions to go. Others will have better suggestions.
Honestly, I am excited to see what they have to say.
Snap a few picture. I’ll bet you could put together a nice tutorial!