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How to Graft Fruit Tree Limbs

By Frank Whittemore ; Updated September 21, 2017

Grafting a fruit tree branch can serve two purposes. It can be used to join hardy, disease-resistant root stock to high quality, fruit-bearing branches or to allow more than one variety of fruit to grow on the same tree. An example would be to have golden and red delicious apples growing on one tree. The graft involves implanting a stem from the desired tree, called a scion, into a branch of the root-stock tree. The two will eventually merge to form one plant. The Modified Cleft Graft is a relatively easy way to graft to small root stock.

Creating the Graft

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.

Select a stem with bud nodes on it from a tree of the desired variety for the scion. Ideally, the stem should be around the same diameter as the branch on the root stock.

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.

Wrap the union tightly with grafting 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. Allow the union to completely heal, then plant as you would any other tree.


Things You Will Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Grafting tape
  • Grafting compound


  • 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 because 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.