Rootstocks pushing buds, how much time do I have?


I am grafting for the first time, and am one of those ultra paranoid types. I may be overthinking this. I ordered scions and rootstocks from two different sources, and received part of my order today The majority of the scions and half my rootstocks are here. The rootstocks are pushing buds, a couple have tiny leaves popping out at the top… and it’s still below freezing where I am in zone 4. Our daytime temps are mid 30’s but we have been in the teens overnight. The scions look pretty dormant yet.

My question is, can I put the rootstocks in the fridge for a bit or am I committed to grafting now seeing they are budding? The rootstocks are apple, EMLA 111 and Bud 118. I wasn’t expecting them quite this early, so I need to stall until Wednesday at the earliest because my wax, parafilm, etc. won’t be here until Wednesday. Can I hold them in the fridge for a bit or should I graft on Wednesday? Thanks in advance.



Just stick the rootstocks in media in a dark place inside your house. Basement preferably but it really doesn’t matter. Just gotta have the roots moist, Amy.

Scions go into the refrigerator until you’re ready to graft.



You don’t have a problem- just do what Dax says and keep the scions from breaking dormancy until you’re ready to graft. You just have to keep the rootstock healthy and the scions dormant until you’re ready- you can put this off for quite a while if you need to and no harm done.


Thank you so much for the advice. I’ll put them downstairs and make sure they stay moist. I appreciate the quick replies and all the other knowledge shared on this board!



I have this same problem with some rootstocks I got from Cummins today. I wouldn’t have guessed they’d be like that with Ithaca being colder than us in Iowa. But they had a problem getting my Marianna stocks so maybe they are just re-distributing other growers’ rootstocks? I would have figured they’d be doing their own stooling of the Geneva apple rootstocks, but maybe even those they get from elsewhere?

I think it is the Marianna rootstocks that are budding, but I didn’t get a chance to pull them all apart.

Good to know that I can put them off.


I have since grafted my trees (I did 50 so far), stored them in the (cool) basement for a couple weeks and they are now pushing buds through the wax (@Barkslip your wax recipe worked great!). The roostocks are growing new roots, they seem happy so far. They are wrapped up in a moist bag, carefully wrapped in a towel.

The ground is still frozen solid here (so much for a spring season, I was planting trees outside this time last year), so would the best thing be to plant them in a big Rubbermaid tub in a well lit area, or would planting them and leaving them in the dark be better at this point? Or just leave them in the moist bag that they are in? The weather is supposed to improve into the 40’s next week, and 50’s after that, but I will have to baby them for awhile because the nighttime temps will still be freezing.

Thanks in advance for any advice!


You now need to get them to as much light as you can, Amy.

I’d put them all in a rubbermaid, yes.

Isn’t wax great?! I did two grafts in parafilm of 750-800. I only needed to do two grafts yesterday.



I did another 25 or so apples yesterday, and I still have 25 pears and 25 plums to do if the rootstock ever shows up. I figure if I can get half to live, I’ll be in great shape. I will say the second round went easier than the first, I knew how I wanted to set myself up. I was better with the knife too :relaxed:

Thanks again for the advice Dax!


I agree getting them planted even temporarily is good if they are growing. Its stressful on roots if they are loose while a plant is growing. I killed many of my bench grafts years ago not paying enough attention to the roots.


Apples are happy in the tub, leaves are greening up. Things look good so far I think. The foot of snow is melting and I see temps into the low 50’s for next week, maybe we will get spring after all - yay!

I noticed one Hudson’s Golden Gem has 4 flower buds on the last bud I left, but no leaves. I left two buds on the scion (not the tip), but I can’t see if the bud under the parafilm/wax is growing. Do I risk it an remove the flower buds? Let it go and see if the other leaves pop through?



Pinch off the flowers and leaves will replace them if/when necessary.



I will do that thanks!


I ordered 50 Mazzard cherry CVI rootstock from Lawyer nursery. They arrived on Friday after spending 5 days on the UPS truck. I was a little worried about them because, as you can see in the picture, they were beginning to push. I bench grafted about 30 trees the day they were received. I kept those bench grafts, and the rest of the rootstock in some moist peat until yesterday (about 4 days) when the weather was good for planting. The seemed to be doing ok.





That’s what mine looked like when they came. Mine seem to be doing well so far, I hope yours do too! My Antonovkas froze in transit from WA in our crazy spring weather… hoping they are OK… I grafted them anyway!


EMLA 111, Bud 118, Antanovka… You’re going to be growing some large, very hardy apple trees. Have you ever considered starting your own seedling rootstock? It generally makes for hardy, long-lived, and large (standard sized) trees, similar to the rootstock you’re using. Plus, it’s easy and cheap to produce, not to mention fun and kind of rewarding.


Yes, I have thought about doing seedlings, but I need to read up on it a bit more. Can you use any seeds or is it more prudent to make stool beds? I did keep an Antonovka to try a stool bed with, and I have a few local crabs that I started in the fridge last fall that I just potted up. Growing is fun and rewarding, I concur!!!

I’m in a cold area (4b) with pretty heavy soil so the big trees are what I think I need. I’m pretty sure my conditions will keep them somewhat in check, if not I’ll be pruning more. I’d also rather have the longevity of a larger tree for my project (a 3/4 acre orchard for our small family farm). I had planted a few purchased trees over the past couple years and decided if I wanted to put in a larger orchard and berry plantings I needed to do the grafting and propagating, so I am learning. We built our house in 2012 and I never landscaped the yard so I’m having fun landscaping outside the orchard with edibles.


From what you’ve described, I’d say regular apple seedlings would be ideal. A stool bed isn’t necessary. When planting seedlings (as opposed to using clonal rootstock), it truly is a mixed bag - you never know exactly what genetic traits the seeds will possess, but the dominant traits of seedling rootstock usually produce a vigorous, widely adaptable, hardy tree which takes a fairly long time to produce fruit (about 7 or more years). Since those traits are dominant, seeds from any regular apple (malus domestica) should do fine. I save seeds from apples and put them in a paper sack. In about December or January, I put the seeds in a zip-loc bag with moist peat moss and put them in the refrigerator for about three months. This process, called cold stratification, simulates winter conditions and is necessary in order for the seeds to germinate. After that, I plant them in the spring. They make great rootstock the following spring. Antanovka and Bud 118 are indeed super-hardy, but in zone 4b, I don’t think you’d have any problem with seedling rootstock. Plus growing your own seedlings gives you more control over your rootstock and avoids the shipping problems that your original post addressed.

I have a small apple cider press and I always end up with lots of seeds in the fall. If you’d like some, I’d be happy to send you some this fall. Just shoot me a reminder, because I’m sure I won’t remember 6 months from now.


Thanks for the advice and offer for seeds. Very kind of you! My parents have a few old apples on their property down the street, so I’m sure those seeds would work for me. I have stratified lots in the fridge just messing around, and had several trees started via that route, I’ve got that part down I think. I do have a wild crab apple tree in the front yard, it’s quite small (might only be a 10 years old at best), would that possibly cut the size down of my trees? It’s a tough little tree I know that much, I wasn’t as kind as I should have been when I dug it out of the field and brought it home. Thanks again for the advice, you all are a great resource! :slight_smile: