How long does it take for a tree graft to heal

When Is The Best Time To Graft Fruit Trees?

Grafting fruit trees is a great way to make sure you know what variety of fruit you’re getting, diversify your orchard or yard, and get some extra fruit for snacks or meals! The process itself is fairly simple, and there are plenty of resources out there to help you with the technical parts. The timeline can be a little more confusing. When is the best time to graft fruit trees? How long does grafting a fruit tree actually take? If you aren’t sure about when to start grafting to get the best results, then this guide is for you.


  • When is the best time to take cuttings?
  • When is the best time to start grafting?
  • How long does grafting take?

When is the best time to take cuttings?

There are two types of cuttings: hardwood and softwood.

Hardwood cuttings are taken in late fall, winter, and early spring, when the tree is dormant. These cuttings are the growth from the previous spring and so have had several months to a year to mature. They’re less flexible but sturdy.

Softwood cuttings can only be taken in spring as they are the new growth for the season. These cuttings are more flexible and tend to attach faster but aren’t as sturdy.

When grafting trees, flexibility is more important than sturdiness, so take softwood cuttings in the spring. You can still use hardwood cuttings, but they take longer to adjust to being part of a different tree and are slightly more likely to fail.

When is the best time to start grafting?

The best time to graft fruit trees is around spring, when plants begin gearing up to grow, making it easier to establish a connection between the two trees. There are a few routes you can take with this.

If you’re taking softwood cuttings, you can graft your trees right after you take the cuttings without issue. If you choose to take hardwood cuttings, or if you’re purchasing cuttings and have to wait on them to arrive, you can graft them in summer. It may not recover as quickly, but the difference shouldn’t be significant. If you have hardwood cuttings or softwood cuttings that have been stored, another option is to begin grafting in late winter, right before spring.

The only times that you should avoid starting your grafts are fall and early winter. This is when trees are dormant, meaning they aren’t putting out new growth. The grafts will attach in fall, especially in early fall in a mild climate, but it takes roughly twice as long. Late winter is OK because the graft won’t have to wait long before beginning to grow. If you graft in fall or early winter the cut ends of your graft will be exposed to the elements for much longer and are more susceptible to rot or disease.

How long does grafting take?

The amount of time it takes depends on the type of graft you use. In general, the more material you have grafted or the larger your graft is, the longer it will take to heal and grow. Grafts that are only a single branch grafted onto an existing tree will heal and become part of the tree in a week and a half to two weeks. From there, the branch grows as normal, and you can expect flowers and fruit on schedule with the type of tree you’ve grafted from.

Larger grafts, however, take longer. If you’re using a technique such as whip grafting to grow a new tree from the root stock of another, that is a more strenuous undertaking for the tree. A graft like that will take three to six weeks to heal and become a single tree. It then grows as normal, and you can reasonably expect to see flowers and fruit a year later.

There you have it, the timeline for grafting fruit trees! Now you know when you can expect to be able to take the dressings off your graft and how soon after that you can expect fruit. Be sure your shears are sharp when taking your cuttings, bind your graft tightly, and start in the late winter, spring, or summer for the best results. Small grafts should take only a week or two to heal, while larger ones may take a month or two. Enjoy your extra fruit!

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How to Graft a Tree Using the ‘Whip and Tongue’ Method

Spring has sprung and that’s good news for gardeners who’ve been eager to dig into the soil once again. If you’re one of the few who’s added fruit trees to your crop list, there’s one practice you may want to think about integrating this season: grafting. 

Why would you want to graft a tree? Some varieties of fruit have better root systems and some have better fruits. Grafting allows you to combine the two into one plant. You fuse a branch of a desired fruit tree—apple, pear, cherry or plum, for example—to a healthy, hardy rootstock. 

Grafting helps strengthen a tree’s resistance to certain diseases and allows a tree to adapt to growing in non-native soils or environmental conditions. It’s also utilized to repair injured trees.

In general, grafting is a preferred alternative to growing trees from seed. The technique helps finicky varieties grow successfully. It also ensures the tree will produce fruit that is “true to seed” or an identical genetic copy. Apple seeds, for example, grow genetically different trees than the tree that produced the apple. In order to grow more Granny Smith or Pink Lady apples, the grafting process is necessary.  

You’ll also get to harvest fruit quicker. On average, a grafted tree will start to sprout fruit three to five years earlier than if growing from a seedling. 

If you’re new to the grafting game, we suggest starting with apples, as they have a reputation for being beginner friendly. Check out our Guide to Types of Apples for inspiration. 

Once you’ve got your grafting game down, try making something called a combination tree, which consists of one tree grafted with branches that produce several different crop varieties. 

The Whip and Tongue Grafting Method

There are several different ways to graft a tree, but the “whip and tongue” method is one of the most widely adopted techniques. Before getting started, there are a few terms worth familiarizing yourself with. 

Rootstock: The tree or branch of the parent tree you are starting with. 

Scion: Your cuttings or wood that will be grafted to your rootstock. 

Cambium layer: This is the greenish layer of stem tissue between the outer and inner bark. It’s the magic material that actively divides and produces new cells, and it is what’s needed to match up between the two plants for grafting to occur. All growth above this union retains the identity of the scion, and all growth below retains the identity of the rootstock. 

What you need

—A grafting or bevel knife (make sure it’s sharpened before you make your cuts)
—Pruning shears
—Tape (grafting tape is best, but electrical tape is also fine)
—Rootstock (or a parent tree)
—Scion wood
—Clean gloves

Initial tips to increase grafting success 

Wait at least a year or two before grafting a tree if you’ve planted it as an adult tree. This will allow time for the tree to adjust to its environment. 

Pick rootstock and scion crops that grow in your local area, so you’re not left guessing whether they’ll be able to fare in current or future conditions. Ask your local nursery or extension officer for recommendations. 

[RELATED: How to Plant a Fruit Tree]

Graft plants from the same species (apple scion on apple rootstock, cherry scion on cherry rootstock, etc. ).

Ensure all your cutting materials are sterilized to minimize the chance of an infection.

Where to source scions 

Some gardeners will swap scion wood with friends, but if you don’t have a parent tree and scion candidate readily available, many nurseries or orchards will sell you these materials in person or online.

If you’re new to this and you’re shopping for a parent tree, ask for clonal rootstock. For those interested in online scion swaps with fellow grafters, check out this link here. 

If you’re going out to collect your scion wood from existing trees, it’s best to do this when the plant is still dormant in the early spring. This ensures that it doesn’t begin growing before it’s attached to the rootstock.

 Collect wood that is less than a year old. Look for branches that are straight, less than a diameter of a pencil (one quarter to one half of an inch) and with limited to no side branching. 

When you cut your branch, ensure it’s around 12 to 18 inches long. Use a sterilized knife or shears to do this to prevent infection. 

Storing scions 

Put the scions in the fridge in Ziploc bags to prevent them from getting warm and drying out. This will also help them maintain dormancy. Label them with the name of the tree and the date that the cutting was made. Wherever you store these cuttings inside your fridge, remove any fruit in close proximity. This is because certain fruits can produce ethylene as they ripen, which can kill the wood. 

According to experts from the University of Missouri’s pest management program, temperatures lower than 0°F can injure the buds on your scion, but temperatures warmer than 32°F will shorten the storage life of the scion wood. Make sure your storage temperature strikes between these two thresholds.  

Ideal conditions for grafting 

If fruit trees in your neighborhood have buds that are starting to open, this means the tree’s sap has started to flow throughout the branches. This is the perfect time for grafting because, with sap flow, there are better chances for the two branches to bond, minimizing conditions for the scion to dry out. 

The grafting process

1. Use your shears to clip a branch off of the rootstock. Make sure this branch is clean and there are no tears in the outer layer of the wood. When you make that cut, you will see a lighter, greenish wood—this is your cambium layer.

2. Be sure to wear clean gloves during this process. Do not ever touch the cambium layer with your bare hands. The oil from your hands will kill the cells that are exposed and ruin your chances of bonding.

3. Using a knife, make a long, straight, sloping cut, about two to three inches long. Place your flat side of the knife toward the rootstock (not the bevelled side). This should be a very clean cut, so try to do this with one stroke of the knife. We suggest doing a few practice runs beforehand.

4. Cut the first inch of the bottom and top of the scion wood. These areas are prone to drying up.

5. Find the lower end of your scion wood. You will know what is the lower end because it’s the opposite end in which the buds are pointing. This is where you will make your first cut.

6. Make a cut on an angle that matches up with the cut that you’ve made on your rootstock.

7. Match up these cut surfaces, checking to make sure they are the same length. If held together, the cambium (green woody layers) should meet and the rootstock and scion will appear as one branch. Make any adjustments to your cuts if necessary. A small gap is acceptable, as we will be binding the two pieces.

8. To make the “tongue” cut on your rootstock, start about one third of the the distance from the tip of where you just made your initial cut. Press the knife slowly in a downward rocking motion. What you’re making here is a little flap that will grab and interlock with a similar flap on your scion, kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. It should be about a half an inch to an inch deep. Do not push on the knife—you will slice your finger if you do.

9. Make the tongue cut on the scion the same way you did with the rootstock. Start about one third of the distance from the tip to the end of the cut and wiggle the knife down the wood until the cut is about half an inch to an inch deep.

10. Flex the scion piece so that the gap between the tongues opens up. Line the cuts up, and slide them together, making sure to interlock the tongues. Make sure that the cambium layer is in contact with the other. (See the above diagram for some visual direction.)

11. It’s time to seal it up. You can use electrical tape, but choose a brand that is elastic and fully adhesive. You can also use grafting tape, which is designed to last long enough throughout the grafting process. Do not stretch this tape too tightly or it may crack. Make sure that there is no exposed cambium layer when you’re wrapping the branches up.

A healthy healed graft.


It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for the grafting to heal and fuse. We suggest monitoring it every three to five days.  

If you see rootstock growth below the graft, prune it off immediately with sterilized shears. This also includes anything around the base of your tree. By clipping this growth off, it ensures the energy is transported to the graft and not to the rootstock, so that the fusing between the two branches can be completed as quickly as possible. 

[RELATED: How To Prune Your Fruit Trees]

You should also monitor new growth on the scion. The first sight of growth will mean the graft union is a success. However, your plant will still likely need the protection of whatever you’ve wrapped it with.  

Once the scion grows and expands beyond the seal or wrap, growth may be restricted. If the seal is too tight or starts to crack, and you’ve confirmed that the scion has new growth, you can remove the seal. 

We suggest waiting until fall to remove a protective barrier entirely, to prevent the bond from drying out. If the scion has outgrown its seal and it’s still summer, remove it and apply a new seal. 

For the grafting to fuse and heal up, it can take three to eight weeks on average but sometimes longer depending on the type of tree. For it to actually sprout fruit, it takes one to four years on average.

How to graft seedlings: grafting methods, tying and care


  1. Grafting: what it is
  2. Why graft fruit tree seedlings?
  3. Methods of grafting seedlings: what are the
  4. Tools
  5. How long does the vaccine take root
  6. Harness
  7. How to care?
  8. Common errors

Any gardener dreams of a rich harvest of fruits and berries. You know, it's not hard to make dreams come true. Are there quality seedlings nearby? You can graft your favorite varieties on them. This will be a reliable and inexpensive solution. With a competent approach, planting seedlings of apples, plums, apricots and other varieties is easy. We will tell you how to graft seedlings. We assure you that even those who are far from professionals can do the task!

Grafting: what it is

Grafting helps in the reproduction of plants. It allows you to get cultivars by crossing a scion with a rootstock. The first to appear are buds, branches, cuttings, bearing varietal characteristics. The role of the stock here is performed by the very basis where the scion takes root. Any tree of the same species as the scion is taken. It carries the nutritional properties of the plant, is responsible for resistance to frost, nutrition, growth .

Why graft fruit tree seedlings?

The process ennobles the seedlings, makes it possible to obtain a tree of a certain variety . For example, you had a summer apple tree, and you got a winter one, and from an ordinary plum - yellow. The fact is that from a plant grown by self-sowing you will not grow a varietal, in this case the seedling requires vaccination.

Grafting garden trees helps to improve winter hardiness if you notice that some trees in your garden do not tolerate winter well.

As a result, you get a plant that has a root stock system with all its properties and the fruits of a scion.

Methods of grafting seedlings: what are the

There are several options for carrying out the process. Choose based on the size of the components, the climatic conditions of the region, the season.

Over the bark

Graft over the bark if the components have too different thicknesses. The period of holding is the time from the beginning of sap flow to its active stage.

Trim the rootstock to a stump. The scion here will be cuttings prepared in advance, which are still sleeping or just waking up. Cut them to 2-3 buds, and cut them from the bottom at an acute angle, the length of which is 3 cm. For an effective process, in addition to the oblique, a horizontal incision should be made.

An incision should be made on the stump along the length of the cut made earlier on the scion. Place the cutting there, slightly separating the bark. Make a tie. Open places must be coated with garden pitch - a solution of paraffin, rosin, vegetable oil. You can cook it or buy it from the store. Before buying, carefully read the composition, consult with a specialist.

In the cut

The thickness of the rootstock does not matter here. You can carry out the process at any time except autumn.

This option is usually used to renew the bark. On the side you need to cut a narrowing gap. Cut the scion to 2 buds, cut off on both sides along an oblique curve. Then screw it into the slot. Do not forget to tie the plant, and process open places.


Suitable for trees with rough bark and those that have previously been damaged by grafting. For a beginner, this method is the best option. Note that it should be carried out before sap flow.

Make a stump from the rootstock and clean it with a knife. Create a gap and insert a wedge there. The scion will be a small branch with 5 buds. Cut it at an angle on both sides, insert it into the slot, remove the wedge. The stock is thicker - place the handle on all sides. Strapping is not needed, as the clamp forms itself. Coat absolutely all open areas with garden pitch.


For bark - not your option? Copy will do. You can even use young seedlings. It is held in winter or spring before sap flow.

The graft should be shortened to 2-3 buds, then oblique cuts should be made on it and the rootstock. Align them, wrap with adhesive tape. The thickness of the branches is equal - put the scion on top. The rootstock is thicker - the scion is on the side, it is necessary to achieve the coincidence of the bark and the cambial layer.


Here is a graft - a living tree, a bush. Grafting should be done in the spring, although any time during the growing season will do. Any plant thickness will do.

Similar thickness - graft into the butt with oblique cuts. With a thick stock, cut the bark, place the scion there. Don't forget to tie.


Grafting by a bud, here it is a scion. A very popular option among gardeners. Take a kidney from the desired plant, engraft it on a branch or trunk.

The kidney also needs to be prepared in advance if you plan to do the process in the spring. Take last year's kidney. If the budding is summer, take the cut kidney in the near future. It will take root, survive the winter, and begin to grow in the spring.


The knife must be specially shaped and have a sharp blade to obtain the required cut. A kitchen knife will not work, because its blade is sharp and strong, any inaccuracy will ruin the effectiveness of the graft.

To prepare cuttings and rootstocks, take garden shears . Remove branches with lopper .

Important rule! Wash and treat pruning shears after cutting each tree. Diseases are easily transmitted through a dirty tool. You can use alcohol.

How long the graft takes root

Watch the plant. On average, after 2 weeks, the shoots begin to grow. A month later, you can understand whether the process was successful. If the stalk is dry, it has not taken root. With a successful vaccination, fusion occurs after 2 months.


Take PVC or PE film. Cut the material into strips 2-35 cm long, 8-10 mm wide. In the process of growth, the scion thickens. You can also use twine or fabric-based adhesive tape for tying.

If the strapping is tight, there is a risk that it will dig into the bark. We recommend loosening it after 8-12 days. It should be completely removed only next spring.

How to care?

Cuttings begin to grow after 12 days. After complete fusion below its place, the kidneys awaken. Shoots emerging from them must be removed so that the cutting continues to develop.

Shoots , formed on the handle, must be pinched, tear off the grassy top. This is how new branches, the crown of the tree, are formed.

Trim must not cut into crown . Be careful, it may happen that the cutting can break off from the sun, wind or birds. Having removed the strapping, they noticed a constriction on the handle - make 2-3 longitudinal cuts, process them, tie them again. The tissues will help flatten the bark. Loosen this strapping after a month, but do not remove it anymore.

In the last month of summer, limit yourself to pinching 2-3 top leaves to prepare the shoots for frost.

Pay attention to fertilizing, watering containing phosphorus, potash fertilizers .

Common mistakes?

Sometimes gardeners with little experience make mistakes. We have collected common shortcomings in the work, so that you definitely do not allow them.

1. Unprepared tools

Prepare the tools in advance, sharpen them, check the correct operation. Before the process, wash your hands, do not touch the cuts made to avoid a detrimental effect on the plant.

2. Slow operation

The process takes about 20-30 seconds. If you do everything slowly, then the cut surface may dry out, oxidize. Prepare the stock, cut. Also note that you should stand with your back to sunlight, so the cuttings do not have time to dry.

3. Short cut

Insufficient contact area due to small cut is a bad result.

4. Bad cuttings

Cuttings should be prepared in autumn or early spring. Keep track of their safety, as there is a risk of drying, freezing and mold. The recommended storage temperature is 0-3 degrees above zero.

5. Removing all branches on a rootstock

You cannot cut all branches. So you deprive the plant of nutrition. The graft will die due to the lack of organic matter.


Thus, from this article you learned about the method of reproduction of fruit plants, important nuances of carrying out. A competent process will lead you to a garden rich in various fruits. Important that the components are of the same kind. Pairing a cherry with a pear or a peach with an apple will not work. Do you want to grow an apple tree? You need to take an apple tree. To grow a hawthorn, a pear is suitable, but a pear is not picky, an apple tree, a mountain ash, a cotoneaster will do here. Follow simple rules and, and then rejoice in the fruit harvest!

Grafted plant. Plant grafting. Vaccination methods. Tree grafting methods. Methods for grafting fruit trees. Budding. Budding of trees. Split grafting.

In the previous article "Plants grafting: main stages, types" we reviewed all the important information regarding plant grafting. That's behind the choice of a rootstock, the choice of a scion, and the graft itself. It seems that everything is already done, but this is only half the battle. Now comes the most important thing - the process of accretion of the scion and rootstock. The result of vaccination depends on its successful completion. This article is devoted to the principles of care that a grafted plant needs.

The process of fusion at the grafting site consists of three stages: the formation of callus by grafts and stocks, resorption of the insulating layer and the formation of common vessels. Callus formation occurs due to the division of cambial cells when damaged. Inoculation is essentially a wound, and therefore, both on the rootstock and on the scion, immediately after the operation, a protective tissue is formed, and cambial cells intensively divide under it. On the 3rd day after inoculation, an insulating layer is formed from the dying outer cells of the scion and rootstock. Over time, the layer resolves, and numerous newly formed cambial cells grow together, forming joint tissues of the bark and wood.

In order for this process to go quickly and efficiently, you need to help the plants a little. The rootstock, in principle, has not changed significantly, and, most importantly, the main organ of nutrition has remained - the root. Therefore, rootstock care remains unchanged, except that in hot weather it is necessary to increase watering.

But the graft, separated from the mother plant, was left, as they say, "without a livelihood." If the scion is chosen correctly, then the nutrients stored in the wood and the core are sufficient both for the formation of callus and for feeding the scion until a common nutrient system with the rootstock is formed. But the scion may clearly not have enough moisture, because the only place to get moisture is the surface of the stock, which, moreover, is covered with an insulating fabric during fusion. Therefore, when growing together, the main thing is to keep moisture at the grafting site. For this, a tight bandage has already been applied, and all open wounds are smeared with garden pitch, but this is not enough.

When budding, in addition to a tight bandage, earthing up the grafting site with earth or wet sawdust with wood ash 20:1 will help retain moisture. Wood ash will help the sawdust to retain moisture longer, and also, being a good antiseptic, will prevent the introduction of pathogenic bacteria into the cuts.

When grafting into the split, under the bark and side cut, it is necessary to build a simple device. First of all, 50 cm below the grafting site, we attach a pole to the trunk. If the stock is a young tree, then next to it we drive a stake into the ground. We put a plastic bag with a cut off bottom on the grafting site, grabbing a pole or a stake. Below the grafting site, 5 cm with electrical tape, we fasten the bag to the trunk along with the pole. Next, put a glass of a mixture of wet sawdust and ash into the bag so that the mixture covers the graft. And 5 cm above the grafting site, passing the cutting into a separate hole, we wind the top edge of the bag to the pole. In no case should you wrap the edge of the package to the scion. For a cutting, even the weight of a bird sitting on it is fatal. Therefore, it is recommended to close the cutting itself with a white breathable paper bag or make holes in the bag.

If the grafting site is not high from the ground, a bucket without a bottom can be used to retain moisture. It is put on the scion upside down, a mixture of sawdust and ash is poured inside so that the upper buds of the grafted cutting stick out. Outside, below, the bucket should be piled with earth. In all cases, we fill the sawdust very carefully so as not to touch the stalk and not to disturb the tight contact of the scion and rootstock.

After all the adaptations and shelters are made, all that remains is to wait and hope for Mother Nature. Within two weeks, all stages of fusion of the scion with the stock take place. At this time, the plant does not need any intervention, except perhaps for watering in hot weather.

After 2 weeks, you can determine whether the scion has taken root or not? This can be judged by the condition of the eye or cutting.

Moving the shelter away from the place of budding, in case of successful engraftment, you can observe a healthy, not wrinkled eye, and at the junction of the bark of the scion and rootstock there should be a brown callus tubercle. If there are no these signs, then the eye has not taken root. Do not be discouraged, budding can be repeated, if not this year, then next. It is made on the same stock, only on the other side. If there are signs, then accept my congratulations.

The grafted plant needs watering, loosening, fertilizing, cutting off wild growth, loosening the binding and tying up the young shoot. After some time, wild shoots will definitely come out of the root neck, which, if not removed, will take all the nutrients coming from the root, and thereby weaken the young graft. Every 20 days, it is necessary to carefully inspect the root collar for overgrowth, and at the same frequency, loosen the bandage at the grafting site. This is done so that the bandage does not cut into the trunk when it grows and thickens. As it grows, the young shoot is tied to a stake driven into the ground next to the stock.

Regardless of when the vaccination was made (spring or summer), the shoot is not yet ready for open wintering. Therefore, for the winter, the grafting site should be covered with earth, and the sprout, together with the stake, should be wrapped in burlap. Watering, loosening and fertilizing are carried out in the same way as for an ungrafted plant.

When grafted in a split, under the bark and in the lateral cut, swollen buds, and maybe even hatched leaves, are a signal of successful fusion. There should be a callus tubercle at the vaccination site. After removing the moisture-retaining devices (except for the pole), on the accustomed handle, we leave one hatched bud growing outside the crown, and remove the rest. The stalk is very weak, and is not capable of growing more branches. We immediately tie the stalk to the pole.

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