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How to Graft Fruit Trees

By Frank Whittemore ; Updated September 21, 2017

To create a true, genetically identical version of a fruit tree with all its desirable characteristics, a graft is required. This involves using a root stock from a similar variety of the tree and implanting into it a live stem, called a scion, from the desired tree. The root stock will then nourish the stem as it grows. The two will eventually merge to form one plant. Grafting a fruit tree requires some special care, preparation and treatment. The Modified Cleft Graft is a relatively easy way to graft to small root stock.

Creating the Graft

Select stems from a tree of the desired variety for the scion in late winter, before buds open. Ensure the stem has bud nodes on it.

Graft in the spring when buds are beginning to open on trees that will act as root stock.

Select a young tree for root stock from a hardy, disease resistant variety of the fruit tree.

Cut off a branch from the root stock tree no more than a half inch in diameter with a sharp knife, leaving about a foot-long stub. The cut should be clean and straight.

Make a small cut down into the center of the branch to slightly split it. Do not split the branch too deeply.

Trim the cut tip of the scion at an angle on both sides to form a wedge-shaped point. This will expose as much of the inner bark as possible.

Insert the wedge end of the scion into the root stock. Align one edge of the inner bark of the scion to be in contact with the inner bark of the root stock. Ideally, the scion should be around the same diameter as the branch on the root stock.

Bind the union tightly with electrician's tape then cover the tape entirely with grafting compound.

Continue to feed and water the root stock regularly to encourage growth.

Remove the tape as soon as the scion shows signs of growth.


Things You Will Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Fruit tree root stock
  • Stem from fruit tree to be grafted
  • Electrician's tape
  • Grafting compound


  • Be sure to label your grafts to document the origins of both the root stock and the scion.


  • While it is possible to graft fruit from trees within the species, such as one type apple tree to another, grafts such as from an apple tree to an orange tree will not take as the plants are not compatible.

About the Author


In Jacksonville, Fla., Frank Whittemore is a content strategist with over a decade of experience as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy and a licensed paramedic. He has over 15 years experience writing for several Fortune 500 companies. Whittemore writes on topics in medicine, nature, science, technology, the arts, cuisine, travel and sports.