What is fruit tree grafting?
Fruit tree grafting is a historic propagation method where a stem (scion) is fused to a rootstock to create a new plant. The purpose of fruit tree grafting is to take one plant’s qualities and merge them with the roots of a stronger, resilient, already established plant. By choosing the rootstock you can ensure it is both true to the variety and to the size of tree you require.
This is a difficult task which is why in most cases, fruit trees are available to buy already grafted, generally meaning that your new tree will produce fruit rather more quickly.
What if you do not have a rootstock?
It is possible to take a cutting (called a graft) and plant it in the earth, but the variety will take quite a long time to grow and become fruitful and will also grow to the normal height of that variety, which generally means a considerably large fruit tree.
Why do we graft?
Of course, fruit trees can be grown from pip but again this can be tricky, and if you are lucky enough to germinate and nurture a fruit tree seed you cannot be sure what exact variety it will become.
How to graft?
To graft means that you take a cutting of a stem with several buds on it from an existing fruit tree and at the bottom of that cutting (graft) you slice a diagonal cut to show the white wood. This piece of stem is known as scion wood. You then make the same cut to a young branch on a young tree of the same species. You then cover both cuts with a smear of grafting wax and join the two cuts together and bind them securely with grafting tape.
This “new” fruit tree should then be planted either in a very large pot or in a nursery and supported by a post or cane. After two or three years, it is considered a “young” tree and can be planted in its final position.
When to graft?
Scions should be cut when the fruit trees are dormant. This is ideally in January but can run into early February if the weather remains cool enough.
This year the mild weather is proving particularly tricky as we have already noticed some bud movement in the pears. So, if you’re planning to cut your own scions for grafting, we would say do this as soon as possible; the earlier the better.
Can you store scions?
To find out more, why not join our half-day grafting course this Saturday 21st January, or on February 11th – Tickets can be purchased here.
Good luck and happy grafting!