Three Months After Spring Grafting

So you bench grafted or field grafted and have kept your rootstocks free of any growth that has formed on them with the exception of failed grafts you are 100% certain of, so what’s next?

I’m going to keep this very short and sweet.

Bench grafts tied with rubber bands or budding strips. The budding strips should be removed now on all grafts, successful or non-successful. The scions should now be removed from failures and the tag in the container should be turned upside down so you may reuse the rootstock. If the graft was done low it’s now time to allow one-ONLY leader to take over as the new tree. You may be able to use the rootstock as a place to tie the new-growth of the new leader or you may need to use a stake. Sometimes an inch or more of rootstock remains and from that you will be able to retrain a new tree but later in the year you likely will need a stake due to floppiness.

Bench grafts tied together with parafilm. Nothing usually unless you put so much on that there may be 1/8" or more holding the graft together in which case you should remove all the parafilm tape. If you put more than 1/8" parafilm on scions prior to grafting that’s not good. Put the stuff on stretched well and on thinly and do it prior to doing the craftsmanship involved.

Bench grafts with electrical tape preferably placed on top of parafilm. I say that because if you put parafilm on first and then electrical tape you won’t be tearing the bark off when you decide the right time has arrived to completely remove your electrical tape.

  • in most cases you will completely remove the tape or you will cut a dashed line thru the tape with intentions of removing the tape the following year.

  • when you bench grafted a heavy/thick caliper seedling and scion with electrical tape you may decide to leave it on if the scion has grown considerably so in that case you either a) cut the tape top to bottom like this: - - - - - - - leaving gaps or b) leave it on completely.

You must learn your weaknesses and strengths. If you’re a person that consistently wraps too tight with either a rubber product or electrical tape then it would be in your particular best interests to unwrap all of them to check each and every union and then re-wrap those needing so.

Field Grafting / In-Ground Grafting Outdoors where preferably rootstock is well-rooted:

Any rubber bands must come off three months after grafting. Those that have not degraded must come off and the unions examined and sometimes another bud strip/rubber replaces the other if the union looks weak for any reason or reasons.

Lastly stakes. Once either your bench grafts or field grafts are outdoors they need a stake so birds don’t land on the grafts at any phase of the grafting process breaking the graft. Stakes are also a necessity when grafting on larger caliper trees where you’re getting 1-3 - 2/3’s a meter of growth or two meters of growth: without a very strong stake either taped to the rootstock or stuck in-ground next to the trunk the risk of the graft being ripped off from wind-especially but also a large bird or squirrel too or snow/ice during winter… it cannot be said more dutifully than to be sure you are staked and ready for any situation.


Well done, Dax. Very useful, very timely, very well said. Thanks for the clear layout.


Thanks for commenting, Mark. I really appreciate your input.



Very helpful information Dax. I appreciate the update.


Good stuff Dax, Thanks!


How tight is too tight with a budding strip or rubber band?

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I haven’t found too tight. I tend to pull them up as tight as possible esp if there is a gap that needs closing. I’ve never thought that tight hurt anything. If you wrap several layers real tight it should probably be removed after a couple of months or sooner.


I think that one year I got really carried away and actually managed to compress the bark to the point of constriction, but I don’t think you’re likely to do that. It was actually kind of difficult.


Good information. Wish i knew it by reading a post and not making tons of mistakes. I lost some nice grafts this year because I did’t stake them.


I found out the hard way that pawpaw bark is a lot more fragile (softer, thinner) than apple or pear bark. When I use my normal tight tension on rubber bands on pawpaw it strangles them so I have to consciously ease up on tension when taping or rubber banding pawpaw.


I find the rubber band deteriorates in the sun in 3-4 weeks, Parafilm also.


Walmart rubber bands or wherever from I notice don’t last long either. I’d say you’re spot on. I use these bench grafting and 99% of the time I dip wax over them. They’ll stay on a full year until they come apart.

I understand the folks that simply do not like budding rubbers. I, however like them for smaller nut trees and fruit trees (1/4" caliper types). Holding together larger grafts with rubber bands and/or budding strips, you’ll often crush the cambium and cause indented rings all up and down the working area. Ask me, I’ve done it, and too many times.



Thanks, staking my T-budding done on 6/20 tomorrow.


Read this yesterday: “Although budding rubbers and polyethylene tape reportedly decompose and need not be removed, studies show that unless they are taken off, binding or girdling of fast-growing plants like Bradford pear may occur within a month.”

From NC State Grafting and Budding Nursery Crop Plants