One scion wood stick = multiple grafted trees?

Please excuse my ignorance with this question. I read something and wanted to confirm its accuracy.

I read that one piece of scion wood (e.g., 8" to 12" long) will often make three or four 2-bud grafts.

Is this the usual approach when grafting scion wood? Cut the stick into several pieces, each of which has a couple of buds on it?


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I am no expert as this was my first year grafting but I was able to make two to three grafts per one foot of scion of apple, pear, and plum wood. I tried to leave two or three buds per piece.
Hope this helps.


I like about three buds, but yeah I just did today what you said. I have some 12 inch pieces and got 3 to 4 pieces. I don’t like them too short, because a larger piece of wood can stay viable longer, giving more time for the graft to take. Thicker diameter piece too. But I graft small, large, long and short. Sometimes the number of spots is limited, so I make them 4 bud sticks.


On a side note, Drew, that Satsuma scion you sent me has grown through the paraffin on both trees I put it on. Thanks again.


I’m just starting grafting now. Man, i have so much wood to choose from, more than I need, but trying to use it all. The Satsuma tree is flowering profusely at the moment. Most of the grafts I put on last year have flowers. I was surprised because I cut them down to thicken them up, and they still produced some flowers.



Speaking as a less experienced grafter - and it sounds like you may be in the same boat? - I would say that while one stick CAN be used to graft multiple trees, getting multiple grafts out of one stick may be one of the areas where an expert grafter will tend to have better results than a novice.

For example, a less experienced grafter may be more prone to botch the whittling of the scion (don’t ask me how I would know this…) or just have difficulty getting two viable pieces out of a smaller/thinner scion (which you may sometimes end up with). So, if you had say twenty rootstocks to graft, you might not want to count on getting twenty viable pieces out of ten scion sticks.

This may or may not speak to your particular situation, and I’m only basing this on my own experience, which like I said is limited.

My instructors told me to leave no more than 3 buds on any stick, because the longer the scion the harder time it has keeping the whole thing alive, so I think that probably is standard procedure.

Plus, they generally tell you to pick the most vigorous shoot and pinch the rest off, so extra buds are superfluous.

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When the wood looks good and the buds nice and plump, I often just use one bud and get 4-6 grafts from a stick. If it is questionable, I’ll use the section with the best 2 buds on the stick.

If you are grafting to an established tree with good roots, or top working a whole tree, I think using more buds may be fine. But when grafting lower, on a small branch or bench grafting I feel like I’ve had more grafts of longer pieces of wood with 3+ buds die out on me (or just sort of limp along for a season) than I have the one bud pieces. I wrap everything in parafilm, so when multiple buds push on a longer scion it is exposing more of the scion and possibly more fresh growth to the elements before the two pieces are fully connected. So asking a freshly planted rootstock or a smaller lower branch to support a full 10" piece of scion may be less likely to succeed than an inch long piece of wood with a single bud, at least in my experience.

Sort of like chocolate cake - more not always being better. At least that has been my experience.


I think the longer sticks are more vulnerable to getting knocked into, or lit on by birds


I usually get about 2-3 grafts out of one good stick…each probably 3 - 4 inches…when I first started grafting I made the sticks much too long…found they take more quickly the shorter they are…one other tip…make make sure the buds are point in the right direction…

I’m not sure about that (I hadn’t heard it before, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true), but I don’t like scions which are too short, as there isn’t much place to hold it from and I don’t want to knock the only bud off it with my fingers…

I did experiment with grafting a much larger scion one time (an asian pear which was close to 12" inches long) and got very good growth out of it. But, one of the dangers of using too big a scion is that the growth could be too heavy and cause the union to snap. It also means that there is a lot of leverage on the union, increasing the chances that a bird landing on it (or you brushing against it) will cause it to break.

So normally I like somewhere in between. 2 buds is fine- I’d use 3 if I have extra/unlimited wood.

True- you can always go from a 3 bud scion down to a 2 bud scion, but the other way is harder (and involves interstem grafting :slight_smile: ).

With smaller wood, just do a bark graft. I used to struggle to do tiny cleft grafts and bark grafting them is much easier.

Here’s a series of pics I made last year showing how I bark graft. Last year was the first time that I did it, but I was pretty happy with the results. I wouldn’t replace cleft grafts with bark grafts if I have pencil-thick wood, but for the tiny stuff it is the way to go.


I feel your pain!!

Yes, that is true, well at least you can get a good cut with the first, and if enough left split it. So only make 2 or 3 after the first cut is proper shape, then think about splitting. You still may mess up the 2nd piece. This is my 4th year grafting, I just whipped out 7 grafts from 3 pieces about 8 inches long. Today I grafted Old Mixon Free peach, Ernie’s Choice peach, and Utah Giant Sweet Cherry. Tomorrow I want to do Rosemary plum, and various nectarines, but it is supposed to rain. I may do a couple more tonight.

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Most of my work is on plums. I only graft less than three buds if I have a shortage of wood. Five buds is my preference and works well for me if I have plenty of material to work with. If all five buds grow out it is easy enough to pinch some off later although I never do. Frequently one or more buds will not grow especially if the scion had a rough journey before you grafted it.

In my work with plums, if I only have one or two buds growing they tend to form long whips while the scions with many buds tend to grow into more of a bushy form and produce more fruit from the lower buds the following year. I get around 90% takes with plums. The failures are mostly from misalignment or using questionable green pithy wood.

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To tell the truth I noticed this with fig grafting. I have not made those observations on stone fruit. Mostly all are short, never did longer ones. I can say that the larger diameter pieces last longer than shorter pieces in the fridge. The smaller pieces turn brown first. I have had all sizes on old wood, and only the large pieces were still alive. So I assumed more area equals longer life. At least as far as storage it was fairly obvious the bigger wood fared better.

I have a question, did you just make one slit in the bark? How long? Also in that discussion angled grafts are mentioned. I don’t know anything about them? Anybody have any links to videos?

I was grafting a big and a small piece of fig scion. Both failed. When i inspected the scion, the small piece was completely dead, but the big piece was still gree once I cut away the dried part. I trimmed it to fresh wood and grafted a 2nd time, and it took!!

I agree with that. I would much rather have multiple branches and choose all, or some at a later date. These grafts definitely grew the best (those with more buds). But I have limited experience with success :slight_smile:

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Just one for a single bark graft. Each scion gets it’s own cut, so if I’m doing a double bark graft (one scion on each side of the host tree), I’d make 2 cuts.

I’d say between 1/2" and 1". However long you normally make a cleft- I use the same exact technique to make the scions into spears for bark grafting that I use for cleft grafting. Maybe I try to get them a bit thinner (for bark grafts).

Just in the last few days I’ve had a few host trees where the bark was only kind-of slipping. What I started doing for these is to wiggle the knife in both directions after making the slit. Then I can slip the scion a bit under each of the flaps (right down the middle). And I don’t have the high likelihood of a rip/damage in the bark trying to spread it too far.

This is my 6th year and I feel like I took big steps forward in year five by learning the splice/whip and bark grafts. Now I can handle big and small scions much better than doing clefts on everything. Of course, saying that I’m feeling good about them means that I’m tempting fate…

I’m right in the heart of grafting season now. From my records, I’ve done 52 grafts in the last 6 days, including 13 today.

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I got about 13 done today too, maybe more? I do mostly whip grafts. I tried a few Z grafts. A few ways to do them, so not sure I like it yet? I want to try a few more before I decide. And see how they do. My bark is not slipping enough right now. So have to wait a bit for bark grafts. Thanks for the hints, that will help a lot! I do cleft too, I like them because the graft is easy to see. No matter how pretty other grafts are nobody can see them anyway even me! Some of my whip grafts are really hard to tell where the graft was. Today peaches opened flowers for the first time. Sweet cherries, plums, and peaches all bloomed at once. Well yesterday a few plum flowers opened. Today the peach, nects, and sweet cherry opened. I guess I met the chill hours :slight_smile:They were just waiting for a chance, and since it comes in May, chance of a freeze is rare here this month. It’s going to be a good year here, berry plants look very awesome too. The figs are doing well, and many new ones to try this year. Some set backs to new ones. they were small and had to endure my garage. A touch of dieback here and there.

My transplanted wild plum tree bloomed last week, hard to tell if the 32-33 mornings last weekend zapped them or not. I will say it had some quite pungent smelling blooms…

Our tart cherry trees are blooming right now.

Our peaches bloomed 3 weeks ago, and we had a 25° night a week later, so it looks like no peaches this year.

We go through a LOT of scionwood grafting one bud per tree. I ship right after grafting and the stubby scion survives the journey and subsequent handling well. I’ve found that either all the buds sprout or none of them sprout, and so there’s not much need for redundancy.


Right on! One Bud = One Tree!

Question, How do you get your confused apple trees to go dormant and keep the scion from budding before it’s grafted in Africa?