How to Graft an Apple Rootstock


Grafting is the process of combining two plants to form a new, and often better, hybrid. When grafting rootstock that is the size of a pencil or smaller, whip grafting is a very successful technique. Whip grafting is best done in a cool, indoor location such as a garage, barn, or shed, to better prevent the grafted pieces from drying out prematurely.

Step 1

Select the scion wood in winter when the apple trees are dormant. The branches should be growth from the previous year with some healthy leaf buds in place. Refrigerate the wood in a plastic bag with moist sphagnum moss until spring.

Step 2

Slice a diagonal cut roughly 1 1/2 inches long at the top of the rootstock. Slice a similar cut at the top of the scion wood and place the two sticks so that the centers or cambium regions completely touch.

Step 3

Wrap the graft with rubber grafting tape to hold the graft firmly in place. Do not worry if the graft is wrapped tightly, as the rubber tape will loosen and eventually fall off as the tree grows.

Step 4

Cover the entire graft site with wax and examine the graft as the wax dries. Cover the graft in one additional coat of wax.

Step 5

Store in a cool place for 7-10 days to ensure the cambium regions heal. Transplant the grafting apple rootstock outdoors before the leaf buds form leaves.

Things You'll Need

  • Scion
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Plastic bag
  • Rootstalk
  • Razor-sharp grafting knife
  • Rubber grafting tape
  • Grafting wax


  • Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences: Grafting and Propagating Fruit Trees2
Keywords: grafting, rootstock, apple 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.