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Grafting a Dogwood Tree

Grafting a dogwood tree can be a daunting task for beginners. If you want to turn your white dogwood into a pink dogwood, however, grafting is pretty much your only option. You can also graft a dogwood tree to make it bicolored, so that both pink and white blooms appear on one tree. Whatever your desired outcome, grafting a dogwood tree doesn’t have to be a time-consuming or hair-pulling ordeal, as long as you have the right tools, guidance and tips to make your grafting project a blooming success.

Graft your dogwood tree during winter or early spring, when both the scion and rootstock are still dormant. If your tree is planted in a container, move it indoors during grafting and place it in a cold but protected area afterward.

Select your scion by looking for a healthy, insect- and disease-free shoot that grew the previous season. Make sure the scion wood isn’t frozen or has suffered any winter damage. Your scion should be between 6 and 8 inches long and 1/4 inch in diameter.

Sever the scion. Trim the scion’s cut end into a wedge shape.

Disinfect your knife or pruning shears before and after cutting the scion wood. Place your tool in a solution of three parts denatured alcohol to one part water.

Cut off the rootstock about a foot above the roots, and then slice the rootstock vertically. The rootstock that you’re using for the graft should be between 1 and 4 inches in diameter. Use a small tool wedge and a mallet to split the rootstock down 2 to 3 inches.

Insert the scion wedge into the slice. Secure the graft by sealing all cut surfaces with grafting wax or grafting paint. Heat the grafting wax before applying it so that it’s hot enough to flow but not so hot that it will damage the grafted wood. Grafting paint does not require heating.


Select a scion that has three or four healthy buds. You can graft two scions in your sliced root stock; when doing so, place the scions on either end of the cleft. Prune off the weaker scion after the first growing season.


All parts of the tree above the graft site will take on the scion’s characteristics, and all parts below will retain the characteristics from the rootstock--so if the rootstock is a pink dogwood and the scion is a white dogwood, all parts of the tree above the graft site will resemble a white dogwood.

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