Reverse cleft graft versus cleft graft

Sometimes the rootstock is smaller than your scion wood and in those cases a reverse cleft graft might be the answer. In that case the rootstock is cut to a point and scion wood is cut down the middle. If the rootstock is bigger than the scion wood a cleft graft or bark graft are excellent solutions. If doing a cleft the rootstock is cut down the middle and scion wood is cut to a point. In a perfect worls where all scion wood in the same pencil thickness a whip &tongue, whip, or saddle are all good grafts. There are many other techniques not discussed here. Here is an example cleft graft Top working Callery Pears weather permitting

A reverse cleft is the exact opposite. Remember most people say you need two sides to a cleft but if your dealing with a small rootstock a single scion is fine for a cleft graft.


Clark, I did some reversed cleft. I found that reversed cleft take rate is higher. Did two reversed cleft so far, both take.


I did a bunch of saddle grafts the second year I grafted, making trees for the nursery bed. I had very high take rates with the saddle grafts.



That’s a nice reverse cleft. Exactly what i was talking about!


The saddle graft like the cleft has lots of cambium contact. Find them at least 2 or 3x as likely to have a higher take rate and heal faster.

This inverted cleft looked fine once it was squeezed together and taped up. The scion and rootstock were both less than ideal.

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Cleft grafting in this way can be dangerous so caution must be used. I never put my hand below the blade of the knife. The knife can cut through one side of the rootstock in the blink of an eye. I put my hand on the dull side of the blade and rock it back and forth very gently. Never do this cleft cut with a razor knife or other real sharp knife it will always cut through. A razor can be used for the scion wood since cutting away from the hand and not towards it.


I have a grafting knife beveled on the opposite side for cutting away from my body (essentially a left handed grafting knife with a single bevel). It works great for cutting wedges for cleft grafts.


Cleft are a very clean edged graft with lots of cambium contact when done properly. Some barely need taped to hold them! They are strong grafts that seldom have problems.


When clefts are done like that with the pieces the same size they can disappear as well as w&t!

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I agree and they dont need to be perfect to get plenty of cambium exposure.


Wow. I can never get my scion cuts to look as good as these pics. I’ve used a single bevel and a razor. My cuts don’t want to come to that sharp point. Anyone have a good video showing exactly how the cuts are made?

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  1. Turn the scion away from you.

  2. Use the razor knife to cut away from you down the scion on each side.

  3. Tightly wrap after it’s cut with plastic , twine , rubberband etc.

  4. Wrap entire graft in parafilm

If two cuts on each side of scion dont get you to that point your not applying enough pressure. The idea is cut the scion with the least amount of cuts possible. I prefer to use one cut per side. The graft above is a persimmon i was doing. The scion will have a thick side and a thin side. The thick side is the side i align with the cambium of the rootstock. The thin side is the part i first slip in the cleft. If you need extra leverage to insert the scion in the cleft use a screwdriver or knife.

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I thought the reverse cleft graft was called a saddle graft.



Minor differences Grafting and callusing explained in every detail - tbud pear example

@jujubemulberry showed a saddle here done with an omega grafting tool on this thread Two-in-one graft

There are many more grafting examples in this thread Grafting large Callery and Betulifolia pear rootstocks

This is what a large cleft i did last year looked like after a few months

Here is another standard cleft.

This thread demonstrates whip and tongue i did as reference Whip and Tongue techniques

As eyesight decreases as we get older cleft or rind become more standard grafts. The days we don’t see well these grafts still work fine.


I’ve had better take rate with a longer slice on whip & tongue. It is not as important with pear, but pecan and other nut trees really need the extra length for callus to form.

As Liberty Hyde Bailey said, there are as many ways to graft as there are to whittle a stick.


Hope this happens to noone else but thankfully i used a cleft graft. We can speculate an eagle, owl, crow, vulture, hawk etc landed there but i dont think it really matters. What matters is a good cleft is a very durable graft. Maybe i wont have to regraft it. It appears i have some stubs left that are sprouting out! I finished breaking off the grafts that were still hanging there.


That’s never great when this happens. I’ve had good luck attaching a stick as a perch right next to the graft. I use a grafting rubber to tie it on.


This always seems to happen to the graft which you had the hardiest time finding scion wood for.
As ramv suggested a perch stick helps. I use tape as my grafting rubbers seem to break down too quickly.

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It is ok in this case i have enough of a graft left it should be fine. Thankfully it was a cleft graft if not i would have lost it.