When is the best time to graft cherry scions?

When is the best time to graft cherry scions onto Van cherry trees? ? I just learned my two Van Cherries will not pollinize each other. I don’t really want to buy another cherry tree, so I would like to grafting instead. What is the best time to attempt this?

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Graft when the tree starts leafing out. Squirrel ear sized leaves are probably ideal as long as the temps aren’t real cold. If the temps keep freezing I’d wait. Thats my situation right now. Many of my trees are starting to leaf out but I don’t want to graft them if 25 degrees temps are projected.

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Hi Naomi,
Your cherry trees are very nicely planted butd I can’t tell how far apart they are. My concern is they may be planted too close to each other.

I have a Black Gold and. a Vandalay about 8 ft apart. They are on Gisela5, a dwarf rootstock. By year 4years, some branches have already run into one another.

I agree with Speed to wait until they leaf out a bit and the weather is warmer. In my experience, it is harder to graft sweet cherry than sour cherry. Not sure why.

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Just be careful with the pruning and they will be OK - don’t let any limbs cross. You will really need to be on top of the pruning and doing summer pruning to keep them in line. I have had sweet cherries get a bit out of control, they are one of the harder fruits to keep small.

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I have summer budded sweet cherries with success…

Some sweet cherries and most all sour cherries bloom too late for van. The sweet cherries are harder to graft because of handling the scions between seasons. I have been mentored about that several years ago when my sweet cherry grafting was near zero. What changed is being told to keep dormant scions picked well before Christmas and store anywhere from 20F to 34F.

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What is the best way to seal a graft?

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I grafted sweet and sour cherries about two weeks ago, when the trees showed swollen green buds. The grafts are doing surprisingly well, they are pushing swollen buds and green tips through parafilm. I sealed the scions with parafilm and I really liked it. It is fast, clean and it preserves the scions well.

buddy tape is the best graft material (it stretches to 8 times its length).

*insulating tape(Electrical tape),tightens well, but it should not be long in pear and apple trees, isolation for more than two months can create cancer,It works very well for grafting fig trees

*plastic tape,tend to be used in summer for chip grafts, yolk window or patch

*flexiband,are elastic gums

*parafilm “m”,parafilm for medical use, you can be purchased at a pharmacy

*synthetic resins (mastic) and raffia


buddy tape,which costs more money, but wing time best, is very similar to parafilm but estiraza up to 8 times as a rubber squeezing more and better



By the way, yesterday I received scions from Bob Purvis and also his teaching notes about grafting.
According to his notes, cherries are harder to graft because they begin to grow too fast in the warm temperature before the graft union forms, which will result in dehydration of the scions. He writes that Cummins nursery hold their cherry benchgrafts at the 40-45 F for 3-4 weeks before planting them outside. For the field grafting he recommends to graft cherries as early as Feb or March as the cooler weather stops buds from waking up. He does warn that freezing below 28 might damage the callus tissue though. But I think that all the wrapping around the graft protects a lot against the cold. I grafted my cherries quite early about 2-3 weeks ago, yesterday we had the freezing night up to 26 F. And there will be another 28 freeze on Monday. We’ll see how it goes.


That is good (and timely) info. It sounds like I should graft cherries today, given that last night seems to be the last forecast night under 28F. I had assumed that I should hold off for warmer weather (70’s) like peaches, but it sounds like that would have been very late.

Thanks, Antmary,
Cherry grafting will be first grafting to do this year, then. Hope Bob Purvis is right.

Seems to always be conflicting info. I am knew to bench grafting cherries this year so I plan on doing some experimenting to see if I can find what works for me. I think alot of grafting success is related to geographical weather factors than most people take into account.

There is certainly ly conflicting info out there. I’ve always been under the impression that apple and pear was the most cold tolerant, then plum and cherry, and lastly peach and apricot.

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That is how my order of grafting for the last 9 years or so.


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Same here. I wouldn’t graft cherries too early. I have done fine grafting them with plums.


Cherries in February and March here didn’t work out but late March or April I have had good luck. Grafted plums dormant with no problems so at least here plums are easier to graft than cherries. I’m still grafting pears this year since the weather was unpredictable earlier.

I do not really know which way is better. Just that Bob Purvis recommendations were very similar of what I was thinking myself. Back in Russia when I read about grafting they always recommended to graft in the early spring about the time when the sap in the trees start to flow i.e. buds start to swell. So I did as it was recommended back there and I grafted pretty much anything during the cold spring: apples, pears, European plums, apricots, they all took OK. The reason for the early grafting was the same - to let the graft union form before the scion start to grow.
Here most people graft when the plants are actively growing and they have small leaves on them. So it is good if it works, because, to tell the truth, to graft in the cold weather is no fun. This year I had a lot of grafting to do so I started early in March when the weather was warm. I followed my logical sense and I started with the trees which wake up first: Japanese plums and apricots, then sweet cherries, sour cherries, and finally apples. If I knew that you guys do it in the different order I would probably did it differently too. Anyway, now the grafts on Japanese plums and apricots started to grow leaves the size of mouse ears, the buds on sweet and sour cherry grafts are ready to pop, apples and all the other things do not show much so far.
The interesting thing is that I have the second round of the scions received from Bob and I grafted Japanese plums, sweet and sour cherries, apricots, apples again today so it will be interesting to compare the results of the graft takes from the first and the second graftings.


Thanks, Antmary for sharing your experience. As we are in colder zones, I am interested to hear when people in colder zones graft.

I was not successful with sweet cherry grafting last year. I grafted when the trees leafed out a bit and temp was in the 50-60’s. About 50% success with sour cherry but zero with sweet cherry.

I am sure there are many factors including my inexperience.

However, another factor you mentioned that I Find interesting is when scionwood is collected. Bob Purvis appears to suggest collecting it earlier than later. It is a bit hard as we are at the mercy of our scionwood exchange partners re. when they collect the scionwood for us :wink:

I will collect cherry scionwood earlier next year to do my experiment.

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Maybe you are right Mamuang. Bob’s scions were super dormant, very hard to cut. My scions, which I stored in refrigerator were a lot more active. He probably controls humidity, which I am not able to do.

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