T-budding tutorial

I’m new to T budding figs. They seem easy so far and the wood is big enough to show well in pictures. Too close on some so not focused but still visible I think.

First a couple of key points. Don’t even try if the bark isn’t slipping well on the rootstock. If not slipping it’s hard or impossible to insert the bud cleanly under both flaps of the T. Not cleanly under and success falls thru the floor.

Get bark slipping by watering at least a week ahead of budding. Also cut back the rootstock in winter if needed to force strong new shoots. Those strong new shoots make the best stock. This is not a technique for old and thick barked stock, graft that.

It helps if bark is slipping on the scion wood but not essential. Bark must slip if you want to do a bud with wood out. Taking out the wood makes a much better fit if scion is as big as the understock. I’ll show what taking out the wood looks like in pics below.

First a couple pictures of T buds, nectarine/pluot, onto K1 for a forum member. I’m kinda proud of the second because it’s a half inch above the top roots and was between two new shoots since pruned off. T budding can be done on very small wood in very tight quarters.

Here are the materials needed: understock in pot, scion wood, budding rubbers, grafting knife, and pruning shears…oh and for me magnifying glasses.

Immediately cut off leaves on budwood to reduce water loss. Leave a stub of the petiole to help inserting the bud.

Find a flat spot on the understock away from any buds or anything else that might limit slipping of the bark, like damage to the bark.

Make your two cuts, down and across. Cut fully thru the bark but not into the wood. It’s usually easy to tell as the bark is much softer than the wood. Then I sometimes on stuff like figs with thick bark cut a ramp above the T. This can help insert the bud.

Then I pry the bark loose with my thumb nail starting at the top and moving down. I like using this method because I can use my finger to brace against the stock so as to only loosen the bark not pull it off or tear it.

Not a good pic but the prepared stock with bark slightly spread.

Now that stock is prepared cut the bud starting below the bud and cutting up.

Now cut through the bark above the bud and gently pry the bark loose at the top by the cross cut. Again I use my thumb to avoid tearing the bark. When the bark is loose at the top press down and sideways on the bud. If the bark is slipping this will pop the bud stick off minus the wood.

Now insert the bud down into the T. If necessary use you nail to pull the bark out slightly while inserting the bud.

If you could see it first the partially inserted and then fully inserted bud.

All that’s left is wrapping with the budding rubber while leaving the new bud uncovered. Covering it for two weeks won’t hurt.

Another picture of the budstick with the wood left behind. The bud pulls off at the cambium layer. If you get the bud cambium fully under both flaps of the stock and laying flat against the cambium of the stock, you’ll get 80-90+% takes.

Here’s a budded fig after three weeks. The new bud is starting to swell and graft union indicates a good tight fit of bud and stock. Can’t be seen here but after 2-3 weeks if the inserted bud looks alive, cut the stock back above the inserted bud. Don’t cut too close or you risk damaging the union. Keep all buds pushing from the understock rubbed off.


Very clear!

Thanks for doing this

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Thanks Steven, this was pretty close to what I did with the few I did last year. I noticed that you don’t cover the bud with parafilm. I think my main issue was not wrapping the bud tightly. I used parafilm over the whole thing but didn’t use a rubber band to wrap tightly.

Notice in last picture even wrapped like mine the union seems to open a bit. I like to wrap the budding rubber tightly. If not the union can open up and reduce success.

The petiole stub doesn’t need to be covered. Setting in the sun you’d think it would dry out everything. Doesn’t seem to. Covering for two weeks with parafilm won’t hurt. The petiole could be trimmed back after completion of the graft and before wrapping with parafilm.

Thanks again Steven. My successful T-bud definitely could have benefited from a tight wrapping. It still looks very weak and is not tucked in well into the understock. It was also an inverted T and looks really ugly. It was just an experiment though and I think I’ll try again with these modifications.

F/N, Great pictorial, needs to go in the Growingfruit encylopedia. Thanks for your outstanding contribution.

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Thank you! I think it’s extremely helpful and clear. I especially appreciated the tip about the wood removal and I really liked your ramp- never seen that done before.

Excellent job.

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Very clear. Thank you very much.

Very good. Thanks

Thanks for your effort to show us. I am yet to T-bud but would like to try.

Only thing I wasn’t completely clear on, and which probably isn’t important anyway- do you replace that little shield you removed to form the ramp, or just let it heal over on its own or what?

It heals up on it’s own. I think there was one cut on the plant in the last picture. Hard to tell at this point. The ramp isn’t essential by any means.

The pros at places like DWN would do 10 grafts while I do one.

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Thanks for this. I understand everything except what’s going on in photo 016.

Thanks for this, very good pictures and tutorial. Now I hope I can increase my budding success, with 0% takes for the last 2 years it can only go up

Next to last photo right? That wasn’t necessary. I was just posting another picture of the scion showing what’s left after taking off the bud minus the wood.

It’s possible to T bud without ever removing the wood from the bud. That’s the only way the pros do it. And the only way if the bark isn’t slipping on the scionwood. You just need to cut the bud thinner than I did. But you’ve got to cut into the wood a little. You can’t just skim the bud and some bark off the wood. I should have included a picture of what that bud would look like.

If not removing the wood it helps if the understock is bigger diameter than the scion. Or try to find a flat spot on the stock to place your bud.

If scion is a little bigger than the understock it’s hard to T bud without removing the wood, and hard even if you do. In that case chose the smallest diameter scion bud you have at hand.


Very nice Fruitnut!

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Very nice. Thanks for sharing.

I read somewhere, the “stub of the petiole” can serve another purpose, after a week or so, if the stub fall (or pull off) easily, means the T bud is alive. Good indication.

I just made 3 T-bud(peach) last week. 2 without the small wood, 1 with the small piece wood still attached to the bud. will see how it goes after 3 weeks.



Do sour cherries T-bud well? I would like to try some later this summer, or should I wait till spring?

I haven’t tried them. But all other stonefruit works well. My approach is to try grafting and budding whenever the opportunity arises. If that doesn’t work try the same or another technique as soon as possible. Eventually something will stick and you’ll learn. It’s all about experience and learning as we go.


Thanks Fruitnut! I don’t know how I missed this one when I really needed this info. My friend and like member of GF, Bradkairdolf, suggested I look at your tutorial because I had gotten very discouraged at doing any kind of grafts since none of mine were successful. Well, as a result of watching this tutorial, I have new knowledge and a much clearer understanding of what I need to do going forward. I see exactly where I made my mistake regarding T-budding scions. I never fully took off all the wood. (I know I am an amateur in the school of learning grafting! :grinning:) You have made this simple and clear for me to understand step by step. Although I am not sure how my future T-bud grafts are gonna turn out, I have faith to start anew with a better understanding of the technique! Thanks so much again Fruitnut! I really appreciate this. Off topic, how did your Flavor Supremes turn out this year? I lost all of mine due to the late freeze. :weary: