Grafting Heritage Apples

There are many different ways to graft trees.  This is the way I was taught.  For me it has been simple and I have only lost very few grafted trees.

The first thing you need to do is collect scion wood from dormant trees you want to graft.

I collected all of my scion wood in early Feburary.  I found it best to wrap the scion wood in a wet paper towel and place it in a open plastic bag and keep it in the drawer of your refrigerator.  Make sure you label your scion wood!

Wrapped and bagged scion wood

This grafting demo will be done with Ashmead’s Kernel scion wood and Malus ‘Antanovka’ Rootstock.  I try to use all standard root stock for my trees.  I believe it will give you a better longer lived tree.


The supplies needed to graft are very basic.

     1. Pocket Knife (Very Sharp)

     2. Pruners

     3. Wax Bowl Ring

     4. Florist Tape (Paper tape coated with wax)

     5. Pencil

     6. Plastic Label (Section of mini blind)

     7. Scion Wood

     8. Root Stock

Root Stock & Scion Wood

Select a good root stock and scion wood with a few dormant leaf buds.

Similar diameters

Take a piece of your scion wood and try to match up the diameter to the root stock, this is not extremely important, but it makes the grafting a lot easier.  Take the pruners and cut the root stock to where you want to graft on the scion wood.

First Cuts

Take the root stock and with your knife slice off the tip at an angle so you get a tapered point.

Second cut

Do the same for the other side of the root stock.

Tapered point

You should have a long slender tapered point.  Be sure to leave the cambium layer (green inner bark layer) intack on the sides of the tapered point.

Cut scion wood

Cut your scion wood, you should have 3 good buds.

Cut down the center

Take you knife and cut down the center of the scion wood you will be grafting to the root stock.

About 1 inch

Cut down the scion wood  about one inch.


Insert the root stock into the scion wood, this joint should hold together on its own. You must have the cambium layers match up, this is the most important part of grafting.  If the cambium layers do not come in contact with each other the graft will not take hold and grow.  If you have scion wood or root stock that do not have the same diameter the graft will still work as long as you have one side of the cambium layers match up.

Wrapping the graft

Start to wrap the florist tape around the root stock and continue to wrap around the graft.  Make sure you apply pressure on the tape this will compress the grafting joint together and insure the cambium layers touch.  Check alignment of the cambium layers as you wrap.

Check alignment Full wrap

Wrap tightly and do it a few times.


I have found the best grafting wax is just a regular wax bowl ring.

Just a little will do Apply wax

Take a small amount of wax and place it over the florist tape.

Smooth the wax over the entire graft and florist tape and wax the tip of the scion wood.

Completed graft

This is what your completed graft should look like.


Be sure to label your newly grafted tree before moving on to another graft.

I soak all of our newly grafted trees in water over night and then plant them in a prepaired nursery bed. 

Nursery Bed

A nursery bed is the best choice for now because you can keep and eye on them and water them as needed.  They will stay in this nursery bed for 1 to 2 years.  When your trees are old enough or large enough plant them out in your orchard or anywhere else.

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