Parafilm vs. Polyethylene for grafting

It feels like this is grafting season in my climate, maybe others. This is my thought about Parafilm vs. Polyethylene for wrapping Whip and Tongue grafts.

This is my first year trying Parafilm for grafting. Parafilm seems to be growing in popularity.

Today I did some apples and a plum, whip and tongue. In the past, I used polyethylene tape. All of my prior whip and tongue, using polyethylene tape, took. Just apples and pears and asian pears, nothing exotic.

I don’t know how I feel about Parafilm. It takes more force to stretch it, then seems to stretch too easily, and has more give at the end. Hard for me to describe. Polyethylene seems to stretch more evenly and uniformly, and seems, to me, makes a tighter seal. I feel like I have more control over the polyethylene. Less likely to shift the scion from it’s place while stretching the tape.

The Parafilm does not need to be tied, it sticks to itself if I stretch it right. The polyethylene does need to be tied, but a half hitch is easy even for me.

I don’t know which I like better. I have a roll of Parafilm to use up now. Polyethylene is almost free, if you cut pieces from plastic food bags. I have not tried that so I don’t know if it will work. I don’t see why not.

I thought the Parafilm might be nice to cover the end of the scion to prevent drying, instead of using asphalt emulsion. Too awkward for me. I tried melting the parafilm by holding a lit match next to it. Still didn’t work well. Maybe I can melt some wax and dip the end.

I am nostalgic about Parafilm because I used it during my grad student years in the research lab. It was nice to feel it in my hands again. Even so, I think when I use up the roll, I will go back to polyethylene tape. Probably home made from freezer bags. The shipping via Amazon makes even cheap stuff expensive.

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Do buds push through the poly? That’s one nice thing about parafilm. If I really want a graft to take I cover it over the parafilm with aluminum foil wrapped and squezzed up tight. The Al foil comes off after two weeks and buds push through the parafilm. I’ve never thought the Al foil hurt but probably not needed.

I like the parafilm but that’s all I’ve ever used. Sounds like your more comfortable with the poly wrap & it’s worked for you so maybe that’s what you should go with. After all there’s more than one way to skin a cat or wrap a graft :smiley:.

I’ve been practicing whip grafting and I don’t really care for how parafilm goes on. As mentioned, the stretch is not consistant. seems like there is tension and then all of a sudden the parafilm stretches too easily and can tear. I will use it but I am thinking I might try electrical tape. maybe the good rubber kind. for bark and cleft grafting I’m going to use the pink flagging tape for compression.

I really like the bigger budding rubbers for pulling things like W&T tight. It’s pretty easy to apply and will pull things tighter than I think you can do with tape. The tighter the better IMO. And I think the constant pressure of rubber is better than anything with less stretch.

Then once the union is secured with 2-3 layers of rubber it’s easier to apply parafilm. Or apply the parafilm before attaching the scion. I usually apply 2-3 layers parafilm also stretched out and pulled tight. Just takes some getting used to.

Not everything they call parafilm is the same. I struggled with the first parafilm I got. I then found parafilm-M. This comes in 2" width which is too wide for me. I cut it down the middle to make 1" strips. It has a little stretch and sticks to itself when stretched. Buds push through easily.

I use it to wrap the entire scion to keep it from drying out. If my graft is naturally tight, I use it to cover the graft. If not, I use electrical tape. I always use electrical tape for securing bark grafts because the do better with more pressure.

I did use polyethylene strips cut from grocery bags, when I lived in Russia for grafting. I successfully grafted plums, apricot, pears and apples. I would not use freezing bags for strips, I think they are too thick. I prefer polyethylene strips cut from small thin bags that everyone use for veggies and fruits in the grocery store or may be just the regular grocery bags. I never used parafilm for grafting, but I use it at work. I noticed that after a time parafilm dries out and loses its strength. I would expect it to be more perishable in the outdoor environment. When I grafted I secured the place of the graft with plastic strips and the rest of the scion I covered with grafting wax to prevent water loss. However in Russia we had a different grafting wax, I do not know if the one available here works the same way.

As it turned out, today I did a bunch of grafts. The first 2, I just used Parafilm. I tried to melt the Parafilm on the tip to seal it. That wasn’t great.

Then I decided to use polyethylene strips for the rest. Before grafting I quickly dipped the top end in melted wax. It was easy, using a jar candle which stayed burning. By doing that first, I did not worry about dislodging the graft to seal the end afterwards.

Then I thought, I have the Parafilm, why not use it. So I overwrapped with it.

Probably overkill. We’ll see if they grow.

If they grow, my semidwarf Jonared apple is now a Jonared, Redfield, Porter, Priscilla, Keepsake, and Granite Beauty apple.

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Parafilm is to prevent dehydration, thats all. you still need to wrap with a rubber band for best results. I do parafilm with the rubber band on top. But have a friend that does rubber band first.

This is my first grafting season with both 2" parafilm m and 1/2" grafting parafilm. As many of you did I tried several different wrapping methods. My first impressions of it is positive as long as you recognize what it’s limits are (still working out the limit thing). The parafilm m appears to be an excellent under wrap for electical tape to avoid graft damage when removing the tape. It seems to be the best option for a scion wrap to avoid dehydration. I’m not hearing much positive about the 1/2" parafilm for grafting so I whip grafted 9 smaller size scions of hood pears and they are starting to grow. I was a little concerned if the 1/2" grafting parafilm would hold up long enough for a good take. It looks good as of now. Bill

I use grafting tape only, when I bark graft and a combination of
parafilm topped by grafting tape on wedge grafting, and I liberally spray
spectracide pruning sealer on all of the exposed areas as a water seal.

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Last year I used only polyethylene tape for whip and tongue grafts for apples pears and Asian pears. I sealed the tips with Treekote. Every whip and tongue graft took and grew. If I use a jar candle to keep wax melted, and dip the cut top of the graft before grafting it, I can probably stop with the Treekote.

I wanted to try Parafilm because I read so much about it.

I think after I use up the Parafilm I won’t buy more. The polyethylene tape is easier for me to use, is cheaper, and I can’t get better than the 100% take that I got last year.

For other types, like T-budding, I don’t know yet. Only about 1/2 of my T-buds took. I did plum, cherry, and peach. Plum did the best. One cherry took, of 10 tries. I only tried 2 of peach, those did not take. I also got 1 lilac of 8 tries. Maybe Parafilm would be better for those.

Has anyone completely wrapped the scion with parafilm grafting tape instead of the parafilm m? It appears to be thicker and I was wondering if the buds can easily break through.

I use parafilm when I do T-budding. I apply electrical tape over poly for cleft and W&T grafts. This a pear graft I did about a month ago

For W + T I used the rubber grafting bands to get the tight connection, and follow with a coat of Doc Farwells over the band and cut off tip. I use an exacto knife so never get a great straight edge - but I don’t cut myself either.

For budding, I use Parafilm over the bud area only as of yet, but I will start to cover whole scion to increase my successes.

Have been using Parafilm M for 20 years. I buy the 250 ft rolls, cut off 6" lengths, then split those 2"x6" pieces,lengthwise, into three approximately 2/3" x 6"strips. Trial and error, this size has worked best for me for most grafts - one piece does most, though with some large-caliper pecan/walnut stuff doing 3 or 4-flap ‘banana’ grafts, I’ll use 2 or more.
I wrap the graft union and the scion, in its entirety, with at least one - and usually two - layers of parafilm, then overwrap the graft union with a wide rubber band.

Had a chance to try some Parafilm Grafting Tape several years back, when I was doing a grafting class for the local Master Gardeners class - did not like it; it doesn’t stretch like Parafilm M, breaks more easily than Parafilm M…I just didn’t like it.

Apples & pears are EASY. You can almost just throw the scions at the rootstock, and they’ll take. If you get them in the same zip code, they’ll take. Anything remotely resembling close approximation of cambium layers should be met with a very, very high success rate.

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Like fruitnut and quill, I like wide rubber bands for w and t for the pressure, and parafilm for budding.
JohN S

On all my grafts, I used Parafilm M to wrap the entire scion then used the black electrical tape to secure the union. I taped the first layer of the electrical tape back ward of the non-sticking side and then twisted the tape back to the stick side for another tight layer. This will prevent bark damage when I remove the electrical tape down the road.



I’ve recommended this very method Tony. In the electrical industry it is common practice to do this over temporary mechanical splices to aid in removal later. There are products for this (cloth / varnished cambric), but for temporary stuff when it’s not available almost everyone lays down the first wrap backwards. Also be sure to leave yourself a “courtesy tail", that is, fold back the last 1/4” to leave an easy to spot and easy to start end to aid in unwrapping.

I notice in most of the photos you guys are using import tape. If you try 3M’s Super 33, you’ll never buy that junk again. It’s attributes really favor grafting as it has far, far more elasticity and makes it very easy to snug things up but also has some elastic give much akin to a rubber strap. It’s also Made in the USA for those that care.

I hear you Appleseed. My sister in law works for 3M in Valley Nebraska and she bought for me a large brown paper bag of that tape for $10. I will never run out of that 3M electrical tapes.