What type graft should I use on espalier?

I would like to graft n Akane scion onto a Rubinette rootstock. I would like to graft it as a cordon branch on the side of the rootstock because the rootstock is an espalier. What type graft should I use?

do you have a picture? or more information?

What “style” of espalier? Just the horizontal one? and on what tier do you need to graft? is there already a side branch? or do you need to create one?

At this time of year you could chip bud onto the rootstock at the desired location. Once it starts to grow, you can tie the new growing branch onto a support at the angle that you want.

i second chip bud as likely prefurable method. Although T-bud should also work fine right now.

However for an espalier, you can’t just graft and “be done with it”

you’ll likely need to do a few more actions to get balanced growth on the espalier.

The espalier is a horizontal cordon. It developed one branch at one level and I want to add a second branch at that level.

I have not done a lot of espalier yet myself and am learning, but I think it is fairly normal to offset an espalier branch on either side of the tree by a bit, right?

Here is a pic. I need a second branch at the top tier.

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With the shoot going left I think you might have future problems because it is above the wire causing the sap to flow downward. This could cause it to be weak. It might be better to start over with a cut at the wire pushing growth from the two buds just below it. Then perhaps pinching out the third bud that wants to grow upward. Maybe some others can weigh in here that have more experience.

i agree with Masbustelo here.

The existing branch is bend to far downwards (don’t go below horizontal)

Since it’s the top, your less likely to run into balance problems :slight_smile: That was what i was after. (if you where missing the bottom tier left branch for example, and already had 2-3 tiers above, you would have a hard time)

I would either prune it back. Or do 2 oppositely placed chip buds at the wire Hight. And immediately train the fresh growing shoots horizontally. (to avoid the downwards curved branch like you have now)

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I would cut it at the wire and then train two resulting shoots out on both sides of the wire. This growth is still very young so you won’t be losing much progress. In fact, given how thin the next tier down is, probably would be best to not even try to grow out the top tier before the lower one grows some more. But I am also impatient and find it hard not to just start working on the next tier up if the tree wants to grow into it. As a result I have a number of too thin lower tiers!

I guess what I would do give where we are in the season is just leave it like it is, then next spring head it off at a bit under the wire and train the resulting new shoots.

I actually don’t think the downward swoop of the side branch is a problem. The top tier wants to grow too much anyway so you will always be fighting it if the tree has leftover vigor after filling out the top tier. The downward swoop might help to suppress overly vigorous top growth. But like I said I think it would be better to head it below the wire next spring, to better form two shoots and to give the next tier a little more time to develop.

you could also prune it now. (lower than wire)

graft it. With the Akane variety. And with some luck it will grow a shoot.

You can pinch that shoot just below the wire. And next year just below you pinched it, you canb get 2 shoots at exactly the same Hight.

i myself would just double chip bud it, like in my picture.

Oh right, forgot about the grafting aspect. In my view it is easier to have the same variety for right and left branches on the same tier. I have multigrafted espaliers like this and I have done them two ways.

In your case, I would leave it until next spring. Then head it off a bit above the bottom tier and do a whip and tongue graft to the new variety to the vertical stub. Then let that grow up, pinch at the wire, train two of the resulting shoots to the wires.

The other way I have done it is to train the lower variety up and onto the wires to make the side branches. Then the next spring whip and tongue horizontally onto those and train out the shoots.

I think I will cut at the wire. Do I need to wait until next spring to do that or can I do it now?
(I decided not to chip bud graft because I have only done a few chip bud grafts and they all failed. Also, I scraped the bark on the scion and see only a very light green which tells me the scion may not be healthy. I received the scion this spring.)

you can always graft now (chip bud or even W&T)

And check if the graft takes. If it does not, you can prune back and grow a new rubinette shoot

You could try the graft now and if it doesn’t take just cut it off a little lower next spring and try again.

Thought I would include a pic from grafting horizontals in 2018.

This one is grafting the vertical, also 2018. My go to is cleft graft, unless the stock is too thin.


Very cool to see, Holly. I’m curious whether having the scion placed almost at a horizontal affects growth early on, and if so by how much. (I’m thinking that an alternative would be to place the graft closer to the main trunk, where it would be closer to a 45 degree angle initially, and then tying it down as it grows out.)

Your trees always look great, though.

@HollyGates That sounds like an excellent idea!

Holly- if those are from 2018, how about some current photos to show your espaliers. If you have posted recently and I missed them, I’m sorry. But I’m sure we’d all love to see how those turned out- they looked great then!

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Thanks J. I had wondered about horizontal grafts too but they ended up working fine. Being the top two tiers on an overly vigorous tree, they actually have grown too much and are thicker than the bottom tiers and send out too much wood now, especially the top tier.

These grafts were Reine des Reinettes grafted on Sweet 16 on G30.

You mentioned the idea of grafts at 45 degrees. Actually that same year I did two of those, on a tree where I wanted to split the central leader to make a heart shape in the center of the tree. That was working out fine for the first tree that was there (the heart part of the trellis I made out of willow boughs). But then that tree died and I planted another in the same spot with the same plan, this time a King David on G222. These grafts I put on above the second tier are Wickson.

These grew well, but then I was away living in Malaysia for almost a year and the tree was left to its own devices (not to mention having half the bark eaten off the trunk by bunnies since no one was there to put guards on). The next season I was too wimpy to cut it back hard so I tried to reshape the woody growth with some partial saw cuts. That helped but it is still poorly shaped. Anyway, here is a pic of that tree from january this year. I circled the graft locations in red . I’ll try to remember to take some pics tomorrow of current state of these grafts.


Good idea, I’ll try to remember to take some current pics tomorrow. Here is what those two trees looked like in January 2021 - I circled the approximate graft locations in red. You can see on the horizontal ones that the weakest tiers are the lower two, which are the non grafted ones!

Here is the one with grafted vertical that I showed before. The lower tier (Redfield) is weak, while the upper ones are much more vigorous (Hooples)

So I guess my take away is that position on the tree has a bigger effect than variety or graft orientation. If I were doing it over again I would work harder to put move vigorous varieties on the bottom and give them more time to develop before allowing the upper tiers to form.