Bud Grafting is used most frequently by nurseries. Rootstocks 3/8" (1 cm) to 1" (2.5 cm) in diameter are used. There are two common methods of bud grafting, T-budding and Chip budding.

With T-budding the grafting can only be done when the bark on the recipient stock is slipping easily, that is, when it is moist and flexible and can be lifted away from the wood easily. This can only be done when the cambium layer underneath is actively growing. The period when this happens varies from region to region but is usually about 4 to 5 weeks in mid summer.

Chip-budding does not have to be done when the bark is slipping. It has the longest window of time of all the grafting methods, running from spring through to early fall.

Spring grafting:

In the early spring when the sap starts to run you can graft using buds from dormant scionwood collected in the winter and stored in a cool, damp place.

Summer grafting:

In the summer cut bud sticks from the donor tree branches that have mature leaves with fully formed leaf buds. The sooner you can graft the budwood after cutting the greater the success of the grafting.

Snip off the leaves but leave the stems for handles on the bud chips (or shields). If you will have to store them for a few days wrap the bud sticks in a moist towel and keep cool.


1. For best results prepare the side of the rootstock for receiving the bud shield on the side facing the north or east. This is the cooler side and is preferable in hot summer weather. With a sharp knife make a short cut horizontally across the stock through the bark into the wood / cambium beneath.

2. Make another cut starting in the middle of the horizontal cut but slicing downward with the length of the stock.

3. Slipping the tip of your knife under a corner of the bark, gently lift up to test if it's ready. Budding knives have specially shaped blades with rounded ends that make bud grafting easier. The bark should be moist and pliable. If it is dry and lifts away hard or it breaks or tears, then it is not ready.

4. Take the budstick and using your knife slice upwards from about 3/4" (2 cm) beneath a bud to about the same distance above the bud. Make a horizontal cut on the upper part of the bud chip to square it off and remove from the budstick by holding by the stem handle. The removed bud chip should be the shape of a shield, hence the name "bud shield."


5. Use your knife to open both flaps on the recipient stock.

6. Holding the bud shield carefully by the stem handle, slide it carefully down into the "T" pocket until the top of the bud shield is flush against the top of the "T" cut. Avoid touching the cut surface of the shield with your fingers.

7. Secure the grafted bud shield by wrapping it with rubber budding bands or other tape. Do not tape over the bud. It is not necessary to seal the bud shield with wax as with other types of grafts, however you might have a higher success rate if you do.

8. Spring grafts will start growing in a few weeks. Later grafts will remain dormant until the next season. If the stem "handle" turns yellowish and falls off, you have succeeded. If it turns dark, shrivels up and stays stuck to the bud, it didn't take.

Chip Budding

1. Chip budding differs from T-budding in that an open wound is made in the rootstock rather than a T shaped flap. On a smooth side of the rootstock, facing north or east, make a cut about 1/4 inch (6 mm) deep and slanting downwards 45 to 60 degrees.

2. About 3/4 inch (2 cm) above the first cut make another downward cut, meeting the base of the first cut. Remove this chip and discard.

3. On the bud stick do the same thing except cut below and above a bud which you want to graft. Remove the bud chip, being careful not to touch the cut surface. Try to make both the rootstock cut and the bud chip cut the same size.

4. Insert the bud chip into the rootstock cut with the bud facing upwards naturally. If the chip is narrower than the rootstock cut, be careful to line up one side so that the cambium layers are touching.

5. Chip budding requires careful attention to wrapping and sealing for security and keeping in the moisture. The edges of the cut are exposed unlike T-budding. Wrap the bud chip graft with special parafilm or polyethylene tape if available. Otherwise you can use rubber bands or other types of tape and seal with grafting wax, being careful not to tape over the bud.

1. T-bud grafting illustrated, (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)


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