The Q&A Archives: Different apples from one tree?

Question: Talking with an old timer about apple trees and he said that I could graft a limb from a Yellow Delious to a Mackintosh tree and that limb will produce Yellow Delious apples. Is this true?

I've seen in magazine trees with many different kinds of apples on them. Is this how it's done?

Answer: It is true! Grafting is the joining together of two plant parts (scion and stock) in such a way that they unite and become one plant. When grafting fruit trees, the scion is a portion of a twig taken from the desired tree or variety. It comprises the upper portion of the graft and develops into the fruit producing branches of the new tree. The stock (rootstock) is the lower portion of the graft. The stock becomes the root system of the grafted plant.

Whip or tongue grafting is an easy method for propagating apple trees in the home garden. This type of graft is made when the stock and scion are dormant. The stock and scion should be the same diameter, preferably between 1/4 and 1/2 inch. Scion material should be collected when fully dormant (February or early March) from the previous year's growth.

The first step in whip or tongue grafting is to make a smooth diagonal cut through the stock 1 to 2 inches long. Use a sharp knife to ensure smooth, even cuts. Starting about 1/3 of the way down from the pointed end, make a second downward cut into the stock to form a tongue. The second cut should be 1/2 to 1 inch long, slanted toward the base of the first cut. Using the middle portion of the scion wood, prepare the scion in the same manner as the stock. The stock and scion are then slipped together, the tongues interlocking. Next, wrap the stock and scion firmly together with grafting tape or 1/2 inch wide masking tape. Cut the scion off about 3 to 4 inches above the graft. There should be 2 or 3 buds on the remaining portion of the scion wood.

Good luck with your apple tree grafting.

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