Last summer I learned how to T-bud, via a grafting book. I went around my small orchard adding varieties to existing trees, for pollination, or to copy varieties that I liked from my old place, to my new place. I budded about 10 plum grafts, 10 sweet cherry, 5 tart cherry.
It’s a long wait to see if they grow - Budding June to August, with growth starting now in late March. Two of the June buds actually grew like crazy last summer, and 2 grew about an inch last summer, but the rest stayed dormant.
Of the rest, some obviously didn’t take, falling off during the winter. All of the plums took. They must be very easy. Only 1 of the sweet cherries took, and none of the tart cherries took. Maybe I did not wrap tight enough. I used polyethylene tape. Or maybe the timing was bad. I also tried to add 2 peach buds to a peach tree, those also did not take. I tried to add 4 buds to an existing lilac; only one took. I wanted to create a “bouquet” lilac shrub.
Even with not 100% success, I still feel excited, even awed, about the ones that grew.
These were the ones that took off and grew last year, T-budded onto small branches that I then trimmed off. This is a NOID plum or pluot tree. Ultimately I want these to replace two of the original branches. The tree has only borne 2 plums in 3 years. Maybe it needed pollenizing varieties, which it is now getting.
Rainier cherry T-budded onto Almaden Duke cherry
This was Hollywood plum, budded onto a mature plum branch. This bud bloomed. I don’t know if there will be stem growth. There were several that bloomed. Not a bad thing - I think those new varieties helped with fruit set on the understock branches.
I think this one was apricot, budded onto a NOID plum tree. Forgot to label. Might be Toka plum.
Hollywood Plum on a NOID plum tree.
I know the nurseries propagate thousands of trees by T-budding, so it isn’t rocket science. Even so, I feel like I learned something useful and fun, and I feel like I accomplished something that was new to me. This year I want to do more, reworking selected plums and cherries, and moving some additional varieties to existing stocks in my new orchard.