In this post, we are going to go over 4 different techniques for grafting fruit trees. Can you imagine one tree giving you two, three, or even four different kinds of fruit!? Aside from how interesting and beautiful it can be, there are many benefits to this and in many cases grafting can save a tree from not producing at all or being very sick. We will also go over the benefits of grafting and when should you try to do it.
Oh man oh man oh man! I had the pleasure of sitting down with an older farmer a couple of days ago. We were talking about olive trees and somehow got to talking about grafting fruit trees.
He got up, fetched a knife and a couple of branches from the nearby mulberry tree, and started demonstrating grafting techniques to me. What a treat it was to learn all this from someone with so much experience!
Of course, you and I both know I am going to forget everything in about 10.34 seconds, so I am writing it down. All about grafting fruit trees.
4 Techniques of Grafting Fruit Trees…
Before we start, I’ll take a moment to link to all the great fruit tree information here on the blog. If you are a beginner or if you’ve grown fruit for a while, you can find great information in these posts.
4 Techniques For Grafting Fruit Trees (this post!).
What is Grafting…
Grafting means to unite a shoot or a bud with a growing plant by insertion or by placing in close contact.
It is the joining of two living trees from the same family. For example, an apple with another variety of apple or a pear or an apricot or something else from the Rosaceae family.
Another example is an orange with another variety of orange or lemon or grapefruit or something else from the Rutaceae family.
You can’t graft an orange tree with an apple tree since they are not in the same plant family and can’t “communicate”.
Grafting makes it possible to have one tree giving you 2 or more kinds of fruit!
Here are a few more benefits of grafting…
Why Would You Want to Graft a Fruit Tree…
There are many reasons, but the bottom line to remember is that we want to take advantage of one tree to grow the crop of another.
Let me give you a couple of examples…
Let’s say you have an established red apple tree.
The location of this tree is perfect in your homestead, the root system is strong, you get a lot of delicious red apples from it, and it’s big and strong enough to survive the Winter.
Your friend told you about this great green apple tree she has on her homestead, and now you think it might be nice to have a variety of green apple as well.
But, you don’t have room for another tree, or maybe you don’t want to wait years before another tree starts producing fruit.
Join a small shoot or a bud of the green apple tree with your established red apple tree, and you have one tree producing two kinds of apples.
You are still spending the same amount of time taking care of one tree, you don’t water more than before, and you didn’t use up any more space on your homestead, yet, you now have another variety of apple for your family to enjoy!
Let’s say you have an olive tree of variety A. that has been on your homestead for years as part of the beautiful view of your backyard.
The problem is that a certain type of fly comes through your area around the month of July. This fly loves your olives. The fly lay its eggs in your olives, ruining them completely.
By the beginning of August, your yard is full of brown, bad olives.
You don’t want to spray with chemicals, you don’t want to take the tree down, and you really want to enjoy a crop of olives.
What can you do in order to save the tree? How can you use this established tree to produce great olives?
The answer is grafting.
You know about an olive tree of variety B. This variety start producing olives a bit later, at the end of July or beginning of August after the fly is gone.
You graft variety B on the established tree of variety A and you save the tree!
There are a million examples, but I hope these help you understand some of the reasons for grafting a bit better.
Grafting Fruit Trees- Method 1
For better understanding let’s say we are grafting tree A on tree B.
The first way of doing this is by taking a shoot of tree A, hold it upright and cut half of the width of the lower one inch of the shoot, exposing the inside of the small branch.
Here is another look of the piece we took from tree A. Next, we will go to tree B and find a nice size branch that we want to graft tree A on.
We will then cut off half of the width of the top of the branch to match the same cut we did to the shoot we took from tree A and join the two branches together.
Make sure that the bark of shoot A touches the bark of branch B. Trees grow as new cells are added beneath the bark, those cells carry water and food throughout the tree.
The bark of the two parts should touch for a better rate of success.
Next, wrap the joined area with medical cotton gauze or a piece of fabric to hold them firmly together.
Cover the whole thing with a plastic bag, for a greenhouse effect. Make a couple of holes in the bag for ventilation
You should graft in late Winter when the tree is bare of leaves.
When Spring comes and temperatures start to rise, the shoot (A) will start growing.
Open the bag gradually as the shoot is filled with leaves. A few weeks later, when more branches grow from the tree and it looks like everything is growing as it should, you can take the gauze off.
You can see how this all this is done in the field HERE.
Grafting Fruit Trees- Method 2
For this method, we need to cut shoot A’s end into a thin tip, exposing the middle of the shoot from both sides.
It’s better to still keep a little bit of the bark on one side.
Again, make sure the remaining bark of shoot A is lined up with the bark of tree B.
This method is good if you want to graft a few shoots on a wide branch. You can then peel the bark in, let’s say, three places around the wide branch and insert three shoots.
Do the same as in method 1. Wrap the grafted area, cover with a plastic bag and so on.
Grafting Fruit Trees – Method 3
In this method, shoot A will be cut the same way it was in method 2, but the branch of tree B (after we shorten it and clean from leaves) needs to be cut lengthwise in the middle, we basically split the branch in two about an inch deep.
Grafting Fruit Trees – Method 4
In this method, you don’t have to cut the branch you want to graft short, you just leave it as is…
Make a crosswise cut half an inch under the bud and another half an inch above the bud. You are only cutting the bark here, not the whole branch.
We do this to make sure the water and food the roots send up the tree, stay in the grafted area. Without the bark, the top area of the branch will dry out and eventually you will be able to cut it off.
There is no need to cover with a plastic bag. Remember to do this in late winter. New growth will emerge in spring from the bud, and a few weeks later you can take the gauze off.
You can see the difference in the color of the bark between the two trees.
It’s in my mother-in-law’s yard, and every year she gets two kinds of mulberries from the same tree. I am not sure what technique was used to graft this tree, but the fruit of the second tree is much sweeter and bigger than the fruit of the first one.
What do you think?
Have you ever grafted a tree? Do you own a grafted fruit tree?
Do you have a problem with a fruit tree you own that grafting might be able to solve?
Share with me in the comments below!
**TO SEE HOW ALL THIS IS DONE IN THE FIELD, CHECK MY STEP-BY-STEP PICTURE TUTORIAL ON HOW TO GRAFT FRUIT TREES**
Lady Lee is a single mother of four, she was born in Israel and raised in an agricultural commune called a Kibbutz. From a very young age, she was very interested in agriculture and farming.
She is a former IDF fitness trainer and is passionate about simple, natural living. She now lives in NC with her four kids, dog, cat, goats, ducks, and chickens.