What do you do after the whip and tongue graft?

I keep reading, but if I have a rootstock and a scion, and I do the whip and tongue graft, and I tape it, seal it, etc., what do I do next?

I saw something say dip the end of the scion in wax to not dry out, but what about the roots? I saw another that said keep the roots moist in sawdust or the like until the graft heals, another just plant, another don’t plant.

I don’t know what to do immediately after I wrap up the graft. Thanks for help. I always see this last part left out of most tutorials.


I put mine in big planting pots, some plastic 20 gal squats left over from greenhouse days. The tops splay outward. I use rotten sawdust, peat moss, and this year cause its here, using a potting soil that is for raised beds, etc.

If you ask your grocery store produce person to save some waxed lettuce boxes, those work great or buy some plastic totes from Tractor Supply, they make some soft pliable tubs that are handy with molded handles.

I wax the scion tip, not the buds, and I use three buds, one is the cleft cut into the rootstock, the other two are above so at least one will make it. They stay put in the barn or shed, cool and slightly damp roots. Mostly, I take care not to bump a graft loose.

I have to wait out this wet weather usually till good friday weekend before the garden is ready. They get rowed out in those fiber pots on a previous post. If you are in plastic containers, same difference.


After I do the whip and tongue graft I wrap it tight with a wide rubber band and then with wax grafting tape. I seal the scion tip with some silicone caulk, loosely wrap the roots with a moist paper towel, put in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for about two weeks. After the two weeks I will plant them in a two gallon plastic pot and put them under my deck on the east side of my house. They get morning sun that is not to hot and protected from the wind. Last year I had 14 out of 15 successful grafts.


There’s really no “right” or “wrong” way, there’s lots of variation in what people do, and most likely result in success… Here’s a process that works for me.

I use nothing but Parafilm to hold and/or seal. I tear off a small piece and wrap the cut tip of the scion first. I cut the whips and tongues, join 'em up, wrap in a liberal amount of Parafilm. Put the roots in a bucket of water as I continue to graft more trees. When I get tired of doing that or I finish, pot 'em up. 2 gal nursery pots, some cheap “potting soil” I got from WalMart or similar. Put 'em in an area that gets some sun, but not too much, keep 'em hydrated well throughout the summer. That fall when they start to go dormant I carry them over to and set them out in the orchard.

Apple scions and M111 rootstock have routinely hit 6’ by summer’s end this way.

Good luck.


Like @wdingus says, there isn’t any one right way to do it. At the core of everything, though, is that you basically want to 1. Leave the graft alone and trust you did it right and 2. treat the whole assembly like you would any plant of that species. You can either just keep the roots heeled in and moist while you wait for the graft to show signs of growth, or you can plant it in a pot, nursery, or permanent location. You do want to make sure temps are adequate for the plant to heal, so 50s-70s for apples.

There are loads and loads of things that are probably good ideas, but those couple of things are the non-negotiables IMO. Check out the various “Basic Tips for Grafters” threads on here for a lot of those optional good ideas.


I dip the whole scion an graft union into crockpot filled with wax and put in a pot of pro mix.

I know there’s a lot out there to read on it, but what wax do you use?

Edit: The whole thing graft up? That won’t keep the whip from growing?

I had some “sawdust” on the ground from a tree that got cut down. I made it damp and have my rootstock in there at the moment.

I found some good threads on here for it that I didn’t before. Thanks for the keywords to search.

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Loads of good info on this site. And don’t get too hung up on any one way of doing things. The important thing is to get an understanding of what conditions a healing graft needs and what hazards you might need to protect against. Then, figure out what methods make sense to you that will provide those conditions or mitigate those hazards.

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This, to me, is the crux of the issue. Each species has specifics to their growing needs. A Pawpaw is not an Apple is not a Medlar is not a Walnut. A lot of the variation comes down to timing and moisture. Timing is also not a calendar thing. April in Alaska is a different creature than April in Florida, so look at time and environment from the tree’s point of view.


@beforeIdie , the wax will not stop the buds from sprouting . I cut my scion down to two buds after grafting and dip in wax to cover the whole thing tape and all. I actually grafted using the wooden clothespins without tape and dipped the whole clothespin in wax.


What about storing the new grafts in sand? I see people referencing sand quite a bit for different things.

As far as apple grafts, you may have seen older references to storing grafted trees in sand. I’ve seen this in old publications sometimes. 100 years ago, orchard people often grafted trees earlier in winter than is typically done now. I suspect they did things according to a schedule of when they had time to do this indoor job. By March, they could be very busy outdoors and might not have had time for bench grafting.

Without reliable refrigeration, they stored scions in the cold ground, in sand, to keep them dormant and unfrozen. Wet sand kept them moist but not rotting. I can see where they might also have stored completed grafts in sand to heal for a month or so before planting out in the nursery rows.


I did my first 4 WT grafts this week…
NovaMac and Early McIntosh on B9.

I wrapped the graft area as tight as I could with 3 or 4 layers of parafilm… then took one layer of parafilm tape all the way to the top of the scion.

I reinforced the graft area with some rubber tape that worked great… good tight stretch there. It’s not moving.

I planted into 2 gal pots with a mix of garden soil and compost… and watered them good.

My back porch gets morning sun and our Temps are to be in the 60s 70s this week with no freezing Temps in my 10 day forecast.

I plan to keep mine on the back porch a while and keep an eye on them.


I moved my newly grafted apples to my back porch this morn… faces due east so gets some good morning sun but only indirect light after that.

I found 3 more fig cuttings in my garage fridge yesterday got them in a pot too. I will give them a chance anyway.

My 10 day Temps listed… but they normally miss my lows +5 or more in my favor.

A little morning sun on those black pots will warm up the soil inside nicely… works well for most new starts… not sure about new apple scion to rootstock starts…

Question… I am rooting fig and mulberry cuttings in my basement… at this point I have them in a sunny window location.

It is cool down there… 65 67 degrees normally but my cuttings are on a heat mat 78 degrees.

I have room on the heat mat there… the soil would be warmed to mid 70s… air temps where grafts are would be 67 or so.

Is that more ideal than my back porch location ?? For new graft starts ?

This is a very helpful thread. I know people do things differently, but what are people’s thoughts on the “healing” process of keeping a new benchgraft inside for a month or whatever before planting outside? I have the opposite problem of most and it’s already quite warm where I am (80+ degree days) while I’m only partially through my grafting. I always am in a much warmer climate than most of my scion and rootstock sources. I’m wondering if a healing period would be good to keep my scions from waking up too rapidly, or it’s mostly for people in cold climates.

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I think with a bench graft you have the great opportunity to keep it in the optimal temperature range instead of submitting it to the whims of the weather. It can really increase your success rate. I think this is more important for species that are more finicky about temperature (apricots, peaches, persimmons) than for something like apples or pears that will callus well in a fairly wide range of temperatures. I think 10 days should be sufficient, except for things like nuts. From what I’ve read, nut grafts really benefit from a hot callus pipe setup for 2-4 weeks.

@jcguarneri … so do you think it might up my odds of success with my new apple grafts (scion to rootstock) to keep them in my basement on the heatmat for a week or so ?

The soil in the pots would be kept at a nice even 75 degrees or so… but the room temp there averages 67 or so.

Outside on my back porch those temps are going to vary quite a bit daily over the next 10 days… from 40 to 75.

They should be fine outside, especially since apples are pretty forgiving. A steady 60-70 would be best, so inside might improve your already high odds. I actually think the heat mat would be unnecessary at best and counterproductive at worst for apples. I’ve only been doing this a couple years, so someone more experienced may have a different opinion.