Grafting is the only means of propagating certain types of maples such as the laceleaf weeping Japanese red maple. While many nurseries shy away from the process of grafting because it is time consuming and challenging, it can be effectively accomplished at home with some practice.
Determine the tree for gathering scion wood. Young trees produce the most vigorous growth and are ideal for grafting. For best results, collect the scion wood while the trees are dormant in the wintertime.
Cut the scion wood branches into six-inch strips and tie in bundles of 25 sticks for easy counting and use. Wax both ends of the sticks with paraffin wax to lock in the wood's oils and moisture.
Wrap the bundles in wet newspaper with a hint of anti-fungicide such as tea tree oil, and place in plastic bags in the refrigerator until the older tree is ready for propagation. Do not keep them in the refrigerator for longer than 2 months.
Determine the tree for propagating. Healthy maple trees that are 3-12 inches in diameter at breast height are ideal for propagating. Three grafts can typically be done on each main branch.
Prepare the tree for grafting by removing 60 to 70 percent of the limbs with a saw. Leave one foot of the limbs remaining on the tree. For best results and to prevent splitting, saw from the bottom of the limb until the saw binds, and then do the final cuts from the top.
The most common cut for maple grafting is the inlay bark graft. The scion can be prepared for this graft by cutting one side of the basil end to a long, straight bevel. Remove the remaining course bark from the crown of the scion, being careful not to damage the wood underneath.
Place the scion alongside the tree's branch and use a knife to trace where the scion will be grafted. Then make cuts into the bark equal to the width of the scion. Gently lift the bark and insert the scion. Fasten the scion by wrapping tightly with the rubber budding tape.
Leave the tape in place for 3-6 weeks, or until the new graft begins to bud fresh growth.