How to graft plum trees

Updated February 21, 2017

Grafting is the best way to guarantee plum trees will bear fruit. This method of combining two existing trees is preferable to planting a seed because grafting gives gardeners more control over when the tree will bud and how the fruit will taste.

Collect scions during the winter before the plum trees have a chance to bud. Wrap the scions in moist paper towels and place in the refrigerator to await grafting.

Prepare the scion. Use a knife and strip the scion with a long, smooth cut usually about 35 to 50 mm (1½ to 2 inches) long (depending on the size of the scion). Make it an angled cut that gives the scion a pointed end.

Make a cut in the rootstock exactly opposite to the cut you made in the scion. When you place the scion on the rootstock, the two should fit together like puzzle pieces.

Place the scion on the rootstock and bind the two with tape. Use budding strip or grafting tape, start with the rootstock and wrap up to the scion. Cover the wrap with grafting compound until the scion starts to bud on its own.


The scion is the small piece you've taken from the desired plum tree. The rootstock is the root system the scion will be attached to. There are numerous ways to graft plum trees and while the cuts differ with each method, the goal is the same. You're trying to match the cambium layer of the scion with the cambium layer of the rootstock. This small layer of tissue delivers nutrients throughout the tree and if you don't get it matched properly your graft is sure to fail. Always complete your grafting during the spring-ideally April or early May. Start after the trees have budded but before they blossom. This will give your grafts the best chance to survive.

Things You'll Need

  • Scions
  • Knife
  • Tape
  • Grafting compound
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