How to Graft Japanese Red Maples


Most named varieties of Japanese red maples are propagated using grafting. Some, however, may be propagated via cuttings. However, by grafting, you can put a named variety tree, such as bloodgood, burgundy lace or chishio, on a rootstock that is hardy and better suited to local growing conditions. Grafting a Japanese red maple is no different than grafting any other type of tree. Although a number of grafts will work, a whip-and-tongue graft offers more surface contact between the cambium, or live growth area on the cutting and rootstock.

Step 1

Make a 1- to 1-1/2-inch diagonal cut with a grafting knife on the bottom of the cutting or scion.

Step 2

Make a similar 1 to 1-1/2 inch diagonal cut with a grafting knife on the top of the rootstock.

Step 3

Make a cut straight down the center of the cutting starting halfway down the first cut and ending at the bottom of the first cut. This will make a tongue.

Step 4

Make a similar cut on the rootstock.

Step 5

Slip the two pieces together so that the tongues meet interlock. Make sure the cambium of the two pieces meets as much as possible.

Step 6

Wrap the graft with grafting tape.

Step 7

Cover the graft and grafting tape with grafting compound to protect the wounds from infection and to help reduce moisture loss through the graft.

Step 8

Remove the grafting tape and compound when the buds or leaves on the cutting or scion begin to grow.

Things You'll Need

  • Japanese maple cutting or scion, 1/2 inch or smaller
  • Compatible root stock, 1/2 inch or smaller
  • Grafting knife
  • Grafting tape
  • Grafting compound


  • Texas A&M University: Japanese Maples For Glorious Fall Color
  • North Carolina State University: Grafting and Budding Nursery Crop Plants
Keywords: Japanese maple propagation, grafting Japanese maple, Japanese red maples

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.