Grafting Fruit Trees

Fuse stems with rootstocks to form fast-growing, fruit-bearing plants.

June/July 2017

Story and photos by Lee Reich

mature fruit tree 
An old tree can be perpetuated by grafting one of its stems onto a young rootstock.

Grafting is the joining together of two living plant parts so that the whole grows as one plant. The rootstock provides the roots and a short length of trunk. The scion becomes the rest of the trunk, plus the stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits of the grafted plant. The graft union never moves; all growth above this union retains the identity of the scion, and all growth below the union retains the identity of the rootstock.



Grafting is useful for multiplying clones (genetically identical plants), whether the clone is a ‘McIntosh’ apple, a ‘Sargent’ cherry, or some nameless apple tree bearing tasty fruits. An old, dying apple tree can be perpetuated by grafting one of its stems onto a young rootstock.