How Do I Graft Fruit Trees?

Overview

According to the University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, "Grafting is a vegetative propagation techniques in which a single bud or stem (scion) of a desired plant (cultivar) is attached to a rootstock plant." For many fruit trees, grafting enables an old plant with well established roots to extend its productive years by merging it with young productive branches. For other plants, grafting is the only means of producing an edible harvest within a tree's first 5 years.

Step 1

Determine the tree for gathering scion wood. Young trees produce the most vigorous growth and are ideal for grafting. For best results, graft fruit trees in the spring to allow the plant an entire growing season to recover and merge with the new branches.

Step 2

Cut the scion wood branches into 6-inch strips and immerse the branches in water while cutting and moving to the root stalk location to ensure they will not dry out.

Step 3

Determine the tree for grafting. This particular approach is most successful on larger branch or stalk varieties where the stalks are at least 3/4 inch in diameter.

Step 4

Prepare the tree for grafting by cutting the branch at the crotch, just above where the smaller branches begin growing. 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. Leave at least one entire branch from the old tree as a nurse branch. This branch provides the nutrients for the rest of the tree.

Step 5

According to the University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, the best technique for grafting is as follows: "Cut vertical slits 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches (6.2 to 8.7 cm) long through the bark of the remaining freshly cut rootstock stubs down to the wood. These slits should be spaced 3 to 5 inches (7.5 to 12.5 cm) apart. Cut the scions 5 to 6 inches (12.5 to 15 cm) long with 4 to 6 buds per scion. If scions are cut longer than this, they may dry out before healing. When cutting the scions, make a sloping cut about 3 inches (7.5 cm) long at the base of the scion."

Step 6

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 budding tape.

Step 7

Leave the tape in place for 3-6 weeks, or until the new graft begins to bud fresh growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Scions
  • Bucket of water
  • Root stalk
  • Sharp grafting knife
  • 1/2-inch clear polyethylene budding tape

References

  • Grafting Citrus
  • Grafting Avocado
  • Grafting and Budding Fruit Trees
Keywords: fruit tree propagation, vegetative propagation, grafting fruit trees

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.