Grafting English Apples

Learning to Graft
May Queen Laxton's Fortune on MM106, 16 weeks after grafting Laxton's Fortune on MM106, the graft; tape just removed Wyken Pippin, from Leicestershire

Most fruit trees are propogated by budding or by grafting the selected variety onto the chosen rootstock. The method is used because it brings the trees into bearing much more quickly than when they are grown on their own roots. The rootstock can also limit the eventual size of the tree and improve the quality of the fruit.

It's even possible, with modern rootstocks, to produce a small tree containing several varieties of fruit. A well-known nursery on the Isle of Wight produces trees for sale with up to five varieties of apple, in various shapes, and a "traffic light tree" with fruit coloured red, yellow and green. They do another bearing both almonds and peaches, and yet another with an apple and a pear.


Grafting is done in March or April. The rootstocks are obtained from a nursery or other supplier, usually in February or March, and planted loosely in pots or the ground. Just before grafting they're gently pulled out and put on the workbench.

A piece of the desired variety (the scion) is then joined to the rootstock in the correct manner ..... and the stock plus scion is immediately planted. I put mine in pots until I'm sure they're growing; then they're transferred into the ground.

I am an experienced teacher, and have written two detailed, illustrated booklets on grafting - one on the basics; another on making family trees - which have two, three or several varieties on the same tree. Email me if interested. I will not be putting this information on-line.

Nigel Deacon

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