How to Graft Two Fruit Trees Together

Overview

In the novel Frankenstein, a scientist makes a human by cobbling together pieces of long-dead humans and reanimating the resulting body. While Frankenstein is the work of science fiction and horror, the idea of grafting is much older. Grafting is an ancient practice of healing a branch from one tree onto another to create a hybrid tree. If your yard or orchard is limited in size, you can graft branches of various fruit trees, such as Macintosh and Rome apples onto one rootstock for increased fruit variety.

Step 1

Cut scion branches (living branches) from young growth of fruit trees in fall or winter when the trees go dormant. Scion branches should contain between three and five buds and should be at least as thick as a pencil.

Step 2

Store scion branches in a plastic freezer bag with slightly damp peat moss to prevent drying in winter. Place the bag in a refrigerator kept at a constant 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3

Observe your rootstock tree for signs that the tree is producing buds. Graft the scion onto the rootstock tree when the first signs of buds appear.

Step 4

Determine which type of graft you will use to attach the scions onto the root stock. Scions that are the same size as the trunk of a young root stock tree or branch may be attached with a whip graft. Scions that are smaller than the root stock tree or branch may be grafted with a cleft graft. Scions that are too large to whip graft but too small to cleft graft may be grafted using a side graft.

Whip Graft

Step 1

Cut the tip of the scion at a 45-degree angle with your grafting knife. The scion's cut should be 1 ½ inches long and should cross the scion from one side to the other. Make the cut with one slice of your grafting knife.

Step 2

Cut a groove into the scion by slicing downward through your first cut. Then place the blade at the center of your first cut and angle the knife inward. The groove should extend no deeper into the wood than the first cut.

Step 3

Cut the rootstock branch to match the scion branch. The scion and rootstock should fit together like pieces of a puzzle along their cut ends.

Step 4

Press the scion and root stock together. Ensure that the bark of both pieces touches one another.

Step 5

Wrap the cut with a piece of grafting tape to seal the union. Within two weeks the union should have healed together. You will be able to unwrap the tape at this point. Repeat this process over several branches with different scions to graft several varieties of fruit tree onto the root stock.

Cleft Graft

Step 1

Select a point on a tree's limb or trunk that is smooth and free of knots.

Step 2

Saw the rootstock limb away with a sharp saw.

Step 3

Open a wedge-shaped cleft with a grafting wedge and mallet.

Step 4

Cut the tip of the scion to a blunt point with one side of the point thicker than the other.

Step 5

Slip the scion into the rootstock cleft. Align the scion so that the cut end of the bark touches. Slip the cleft wedge out of the cleft so that the rootstock closes around the scion.

Step 6

Protect the union by coating it in grafting emulsion.

Side Graft

Step 1

Position your grafting knife on a smooth section of rootstock branch 1 foot away from the trunk of the tree.

Step 2

Cut into the branch at a 45-degree angle extending into the trunk.

Step 3

Cut the scion branch to a blunt tip with one side thicker than the other.

Step 4

Bend the rootstock branch back and slip the scion into the cut. Make sure that the bark of each part touches and release the rootstock branch.

Step 5

Cover the union with grafting emulsion. Wait two weeks until the scion heals onto the rootstock. Remove the rootstock branch just above the union to allow the scion to become the dominant leader of the tree.

Tips and Warnings

  • Grafting is most successful when you graft fruit trees of the same genus and species. You can graft trees of different genus and species, but the resulting tree is often short-lived. For example, Rome apples graft well onto crabapple rootstocks, but pear grafts placed onto quince rootstock do not live long.

Things You'll Need

  • Scion branches
  • Root stock
  • Grafting knife
  • Peat moss
  • Cleft grafting wedge
  • Mallet
  • Grafting saw
  • Plastic freezer bag
  • Grafting tape
  • Grafting emulsion

References

  • University of Minnesota Extension: Grafting and Budding Fruit Trees
  • NC State University Extension: Grafting and Budding Nursery Crop Plants
  • University of Missouri Extension: Grafting

Who Can Help

  • Pittsburgh Garden Experiment: Homemade Grafting
Keywords: grafting fruit trees, propagating trees, fruit tree hybrids

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."