How to Graft Flowering Fruit Trees

Overview

Many of the most popular fruit trees are flowering varieties. The fruit from these trees grows as a direct result of flower pollination. Many fruit trees are hybrid trees that do not grow from seed. Instead, growers produce new hybrids by grafting the branches of hybrid trees, known as scions, onto the roots of existing trees, such as crab apples. These root trees are known as rootstock. Grafting is most successful when done in spring while the trees are dormant.

Preparation

Step 1

Collect scions for grafting in fall or winter when you prune trees. Each scion should contain between three and four buds on it. The width of the scion wood will determine the graft you use. Scion wood should be dormant.

Step 2

Store the scions in a plastic bag filled with damp peat moss.

Step 3

Place the plastic bag in a refrigerator set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Wait until spring when the rootstock trees begin to set buds before grafting.

Step 4

Sharpen your grafting tools with a sharpening stone and sterilize them with a solution that contains 10 percent bleach before grafting.

Step 5

Graft your scions to the rootstock once the rootstock begins to grow buds on it.

Whip Graft

Step 1

Graft the scion to a branch of the rootstock that is the same size as the scion.

Step 2

Cut the scion's tip at a 45-degree angle. Make a straight, slanting cut in the tip of the scion and the end of the rootstock branch. Each cut should be 1 ½ inch long. The slant should be about 45 degrees. You should be able to press the two cut ends together like two halves of a puzzle when you have finished.

Step 3

Make a second cut to form a tongue into the grafting surface of each branch. This cut should start midway down the surface of the first cut and should angle more deeply into the branch. Do not allow the branches to split. Instead, cut with even pressure. The cut should be slightly shorter than half the size of the initial cut.

Step 4

Fit the scion branch into the rootstock branch. Ensure that the bark of both pieces touch one another. Wrap the union in grafting tape.

Step 5

Remove the grafting tape once the two pieces of branch heal together.

Cleft Graft

Step 1

Graft a thinner scion onto a tree stump or base of a thick rootstock limb with a cleft graft.

Step 2

Cut the tip of a scion to a point so that one side of the point is thicker than the other.

Step 3

Slice off the limb or the tree's trunk with a saw. Make the cut cleanly in an area free of knots.

Step 4

Cut a wedge into the center of the tree's rootstock. Do not allow the bark to split.

Step 5

Slip the scion into the wedge. Allow the cut surface of the bark from the scion to align with the cut surface of the bark on the rootstock.

Step 6

Cover the union with a grafting emulsion.

Step 7

Remove any buds that appear on the scion. The tree will put its energy into growth rather than into producing flowering fruit when you do this.

Side Graft

Step 1

Side-graft a scion to a tree when the limbs are at an intermediate stage between the whip graft and cleft graft.

Step 2

Make a cut into your rootstock tree in a smooth section free of knots or buds. The cut should slant at a 45-degree angle almost to the core of the tree.

Step 3

Cut your scion to a blunt point with one side of the scion's point slightly thicker than the other.

Step 4

Bend the rootstock branch back and insert the scion into the cut. Release the branch to allow it to close over the scion. Ensure that the scion and rootstock bark layers touch along the cut surfaces.

Step 5

Cover the union with grafting emulsion. Remove the rootstock from a point above the union once the scion and rootstock heal together.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Plastic bag
  • Peat moss
  • Grafting knife
  • Sharpening stone
  • Bleach
  • Grafting tape
  • Grafting emulsion

References

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

Who Can Help

  • North Dakota State University: Grafting Techniques
Keywords: grafting fruit trees, fruit tree propagation, growing hybrid trees

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."