How to Graft a Japanese Maple Tree


Maple grafting is considered a specialized field in the art of horticulture and offers patient growers an opportunity to make and produce profitable plants that nurseries are want to acquire. While the process can be tricky at first--and may require multiple attempts before a graft is successfully accomplished--the skill obtained is one that will allow for years of successful and beautiful maple development. Grafting can even be used to create rare weeping maples, which are not available in the United States as seeds.

Step 1

Determine the tree for gathering scion wood. Scion wood are the young branches that will later be grafted to the established trees. The best scions are those from trees that are roughly 2 years old. 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.

Step 2

Cut the scion wood branches into 6-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.

Step 3

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 two months.

Step 4

Determine the tree for propagating. Healthy maple trees that are 3 to12 inches in diameter at breast height are ideal for propagating. Three grafts can typically be done on each main branch.

Step 5

Prepare the tree for grafting by removing 60 to 70 percent of the limbs with a saw. Leave 1 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.

Step 6

The most common cut for maple grafting is the inlay bark graft. Prepare the scion 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.

Step 7

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.

Step 8

Leave the tape in place for three to six weeks, or until the new graft begins to bud fresh growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Scions
  • Paraffin wax
  • Newspaper
  • Plastic bags
  • Anti-fungicide such as tea tree oil
  • Root stalk
  • Razor sharp grafting knife
  • 1/2-inch clear polyethylene budding tape


  • Grafting Japanese Red Maple
  • Frequently Asked Grafting Questions
  • Japanese Maple Propagation
Keywords: grafting japanese maple, maple grafting, seedless propagation

About this Author

Ann White is a freelance journalist with prior experience as a Corporate and Business Attorney and Family Law Mediator. She has written for multiple university newspapers and has published over 300 articles for publishers such as EHow and Garden Guides. White earned her Juris Doctor from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in English literature.