Preparing Scions for Shipping

I think it would be helpful if experienced grafters would make a short: “How To Prepare Scions” for shipping tutorial. I looked through the Reference & Guides sections and didn’t see anything specific on this. It might be helpful to others as well to have a brief post that could go in the “Guides” section.

I should have scions from various fruit trees available to share with forum members for the first time this year. I am in zone 5b/6a. I want to prepare them correctly so recipients have the best chance at success! So even though the process isn’t complicated, is anybody willing to share tips?

If you know you are cutting scions to share, (so the majority won’t be for your own use) how soon before shipping do you want to take cuttings?

When is the best time to be shipping? Date ranges for different zones?

How do you prep scions? H2O2 dip? Other?

How can you be sure you are not sharing any diseased plant material?

Wrap in parafilm or not?

Moist paper towel included in the ziplock?

Is it OK if some fruit buds are present on scions?

Do you ship Priority Mail, or regular 1st class?

etc. etc. etc.



I can only speak from experience about apple and pear scions. Other stuff might be fussier.

  1. Cut them while they are still dormant, although later is probably better.
  2. I like to drop them in the mail on a Saturday knowing they’ll be delivered when someone can get them. Cold weather gives you some wiggle room, although you have no control over what the shipper does with them. If they’re chilled when you ship them and then get refrigerated again right away upon receipt they should be fine.
    3.I wrap them in parafilm right away upon cutting them. Dipping in @Barkslip’s wax mix is probably better if you have very many of them. I don’t use H2O2 or other such; don’t know if I should.
    4.I assume that if my stuff is growing OK for me it’s OK for others, but who knows for sure? There are good reasons that some states and countries have restrictions.
    5.I like a little barely damp paper towel in the bag, but I don’t know if it helps.
    6.I think it’s OK if there are some fruit buds on the scions, but it’s not OK to let the scion fruit.
  3. I can’t remember about priority vs. 1st class. Usually not much cost difference anyhow. If you can save a day or two with priority it makes sense.

Not saying that everything I do is the best way, just that it works for me.


I swish the scions in a bleach solution to sanitize them. I then rinse them with running water, and swish them around in clean. I put mine in a ziplock, in the crisper. Store them in a blackout material to keep them from budding out in the fridge.

1 Like

The optimal time to take cuttings is right before they start to make their first steps out of dormancy - that way they will spend the minimal time off the tree. But, for most things you can take cuttings well before that and they will still be highly viable for grafting. Easier things like apples and pears I feel fine taking cuttings any time after the new year if needed, but I usually wait til Feb or early March. For peaches which are harder to graft I want to wait longer, into March. The time before shipping is not super important, it is the time from when they are cut to when they are grafted that matters the most.

January to April is the rough window depending on where the from/to locations are. California is more on the January side, and the northern US is more toward March/April. Usually Feb/March is the sweet spot as it works for most places. It is rare to be too cold to ship but occasionally that can be a problem; the bigger problem is too hot, don’t ship in an April heat wave.

I personally don’t prep what I ship but if scions I receive look diseased I will give them a soap scrub and/or bleach solution dip.

Don’t share from any clearly unhealthy tree. There are some specific diseases which are easily transmitted by scions which are a reason to not share, e.g. peach leaf curl. Citrus in the US has some restrictions due to citrus greening.

I don’t do that personally.

Yes, either that or a sprinkle of water added. Don’t overdo the water though, it can lead to water logging.

Yes, that is fine! If they are starting to swell or open though it is a sign it is getting too late.

I use whatever is cheapest. First Class works for most small shipments, up to 13(?) ounces and is usually cheaper. It used to be a lot cheaper but unfortunately the rates really went up a few years ago.


Yes, anything 13 ounces and over has to go Priority Mail.


Very helpful Scott. Thank you!

It will be interesting to see how the mail is by scion swapping time. Right now it sure seems erratic and slow. A first class letter someone sent me recently took over a week from just one zip code over.


@marknmt, @nil, @scottfsmith,

Great information!! Thank you for contributing. This is exactly what I was hoping for. It will certainly help me, and hopefully some others as well.
You guys are awesome! :grin:


Once I received fig cuttings in the winter, they were frost damaged during shipping, a lot of them failed to root for that reason. I have been scared to ship cuttings in the winter for that reason. Yet lately I have been thinking, that packaging cuttings right would make it less likely that they’d freeze, like doubling the wet paper towels, doubling or tripling the plastic.

I have a story to share. This spring, I got some persimmon scion from a forum member. There was a mixup with the post office where the package came back to him before going out to me, so they were nearly two weeks in transit! The poor sticks were a bit moldy when they arrived, but I gave them a bleach bath and a soak and they looked good as new. I got good takes on my grafts and they grew well. I had plenty extra, so I held them in reserve.

Fast forward to June. Another forum member made a late request for persimmon scion. My extras still looked good, so I sent them. June was hot, and they probably took another 4 days in the mail. By his reports, his grafts took, too! And I was even storing my scions in my kitchen fridge with fruits and veggies (although triple bagged).

So, the moral of the story is that so long as the sticks are kept reasonably moist, they can put up with quite a lot of abuse (at least persimmons, I guess). That being said, I would want to give them the best chance they can and not skimp on prep. I think the best is to soak them in cold water, dry them, then put them in a ziplock WITHOUT any paper towels or newspaper. The paper keeps things too damp and invites problems. @barkslip has a post somewhere explaning this, and this is how Bob Purvis ships his scionwood. I always give incoming scionwood a bleach bath, but I feel like it would be courteous for outgoing as well.


Jay tells the whole story. That’s what I do.

After they’re disinfected and hydrated. I quick dip in bleach. Then I clip off the ends for fresh cuts (cut off a mm or 2 mm) and into a straight water bath for 15 minutes or so but definitely not more than 30. And then under a ceiling fan or I use the fan on my microwave and lay the scions on the stove top.

Get them completely dry. It takes 45-minutes to an hour (rotate halfway thru or rotate several times).

Then into bags and into a refrigerator (never a freezer.)



I think the better time to prepare scion/cutting is probably weekend, then send out early of the week. So the package won’t get delayed over the next weekend. Regular mail should be fine for most people. But it can take a week to California. I received fig cuttings from CA and they arrived dried even wrapped in damp newspaper. But they took roots. Priority is probably better in this case.


That is really amazing, and a good reminder not to give up on scions that looks less than ideal. Thanks Jay!


I generally try to send them out as soon after cutting as I can, though it can be tricky if I am sending to a number of people that year. That way, they don’t spend much time in my care, leaving it up to the recipient on how they want to store (peroxide, parafilm, dry, etc) the scion. While they are in my care, I just cut them into sections and throw them in ziplock bags with a chunk of moist paper towel. I have dedicated a fridge (to avoid ethylene) to it in the past, though this year I may just double-bag and use an enclosed drawer.

For stuff I am going to be keeping until grafting time, I’ve started wrapping each scion in parafilm. At least for some wood. I didn’t do that in the past and noticed that problems with both peaches and persimmons. The persimmons because they are grafted so late and cut so early (before the winter lows risk damaging the scions). And the peaches because they are (sometimes) grafted a bit later and are just generally harder to get success with, so I need any edge I can get.

That true if there is still a while until grafting time, but if they are to be used immediately, I’ve had decent success in cutting from one tree and grafting to another the same day. Still probably not ideal and success could vary by the type of fruit.

I try to find some decent weather to cut scions in late Feb.


I wouldn’t have known to dry them for that long of a time, I would be worried they would dry too much! Thanks for the details Dax!
The pear and peach scion you sent me in 2018 all took, with the exception of one peach (Sure Crop). I had 26/28 take, so that really encouraged me more than you know!!!


I have wondered about that as well, when I realized too late that I should have cut a bit of scion of a particular variety, but forgot to do it earlier in the winter.
My first year grafting peaches made it seem so easy! I realized it wasn’t my skill, but was still disappointed when my second year trying peach grafts ended up being around 20%. Good tip to wrap parafilm around those more ‘difficult’ to graft scions. Thanks!

@RedSun, I agree. With my rural area, I think sending scions out first thing Monday morning might be the best, if I can manage it. It is weird how slow the USPS is sometimes though, depending on where the mail gets shuttled. It can take 1.5 weeks to get a simple letter from KS to AZ sometimes, going regular First Class.

1 Like

Some people wrap the individual cuttings in film. I’m not sure what that achieves. The moisture can still be trapped inside. I can see the benefits of protection from rubbing against each other. But when in storage, they are not handled frequently. It is just a lot of work to wrap each scion/cutting individually.

I have a separate fridge in garage. I do not normally store fruits, but maybe potato and onion. I have a small amount of cuttings stored with one ziplock bag. Not sure if I should double bag them. They are just fig cuttings. What you think?

1 Like

I wrap my scions in parafilm as soon as they are cut for two reasons. The first is to help prevent dessication and the second is so that when they are grafted they are already wrapped and you don’t need to do it after making the graft. That matters to me because I always had a devil of a time wrapping the scion without wiggling it, and I was always afraid I’d mess up the cambium alignment. But I should mention that I’m talking about grafting in an already growing tree; bench grafting might be different.


I started wrapping scions to aid in field grafting too, @marknmt. I found it took me too long to wrap them in the field, because I am slow and inexperienced. Prewrapped made field grafting faster and maybe had better takes since the cut wood wasn’t exposed to elements while I tried to get it wrapped. I have also read not to touch your fresh cut because oil from your fingers can hinder the graft callusing and taking. Not sure if this is true, but I found that I would make a cut, then try wrap the scion, getting my fingers all over the fresh cut. I suppose I could have wrapped, then cut, but that seemed backwards to me at the time.

1 Like

That’s what I do! And you’re right - it does seem backwards. But I cut the wrapped scion with my nippers, peel back an inch or so of parafilm and cut the wedge (if doing a cleft) insert the scion, wrap the graft,pulling the parafilm back where I can, and overwrapping just enough to seal up holes. I generally hit that spot with a little johnny wax just to be sure.

On a whip it’s even easier: Cut the stock; put a piece of tape or parafilm on the stock below the cut. Cut the scion, peel back the parafilm if needed, align the pieces, wrap the tape or parafilm forward, enclosing the graft and very slightly up on the scion. If using parafilm to hold the graft follow with some other wrapping material to ensure contact.

1 Like