Turn Your Favorite Tree Into Many, by Grafting

July 6, 2017
A photo of a ripe red apple hanging on a tree.

WOOSTER, Ohio — There’s a gardening skill called grafting. It’s used a lot on apple trees. And it can help you turn a favorite tree — whether an apple, a pear, a dogwood or another — into more new trees just like it.

When someone grafts a tree, they splice a scion — typically a twig or other cutting — from one tree onto the rootstock — the roots and stump — of another. It turns them into a single new tree that features the best traits of both.

“There’s satisfaction in watching a plant you grafted turn into a large tree,” said Paul Snyder, program assistant at Wooster’s Secrest Arboretum, who’s giving an upcoming workshop on the topic.

The arboretum, part of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, is holding its annual Summer Grafting Workshop from 8 a.m. to noon July 20.

The rootstock of a grafted tree typically provides helpful basic features such as resistance to disease or hardiness in winter.

The scion, meanwhile, is usually cut from a favorite or outstanding tree — a tree that a gardener wants to duplicate. That tree might produce especially tasty apples, for instance. The new grafted version benefits from the stronger rootstock. It also will flower or bear fruit much sooner than a tree started from seed.

Skill works on ‘almost any deciduous tree’

Snyder said he grafts new trees every year, especially some of the arboretum’s rarer crabapples. He said it’s fun, challenging and fairly inexpensive.

“It’s a skill a home gardener can apply to almost any deciduous tree,” he said.

The workshop will emphasize chip budding, which Snyder called a “nearly universal graft” that’s easier to learn than other methods.

Chip budding, according to its Wikipedia entry, involves splicing a chip of wood containing a bud from a scion into a cut that’s made in a rootstock. The bud grows to become a tree.

Bring your own scions if you want

Snyder will provide scions and rootstocks for the workshop’s participants, who can take home the trees they create.

But he’s also encouraging participants to bring scions from trees in their own gardens, especially apples. There’s big interest in grafting fruit trees at home, he said. Plus, sometimes those trees have a history.

“A lady brought scions from a Johnny Appleseed apple tree last summer,” he said.

How to register

Registration for the workshop is $35 for members of the Friends of Secrest Arboretum and $45 for nonmembers. Details and a link to register online are at go.osu.edu/2017SummerGrafting. Call 330-263-3761 for more information.

The workshop will be in the arboretum’s Jack and Deb Miller Pavilion on Williams Road. OARDC’s main entrance is at 1680 Madison Ave.

OARDC’s rootstock, as it were, is the Scarlet and Gray: The center is part of The Ohio State University — specifically, its College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.



Kurt Knebusch


Paul Snyder