How to Graft a Pear Tree

Written by emma watkins
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How to Graft a Pear Tree
To grow a pear tree true to its original cultivar, use cleft grafting. (greffes de plantes image by Jean-Michel POUGET from

There are different methods you can use to graft a pear tree, but "Sunset Western Garden Book" recommends you use cleft grafting for fruit trees. You'll need a short twig of another pear tree, called scion, to become the new growth. You'll also need a rootstock---an established tree---to provide the roots. You'll begin the process in the fall or winter and end it in the spring.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Scion wood
  • Rootstock
  • Fine-tooth saw
  • Pruning shears
  • Grafting knife
  • Grafting wax
  • String

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  1. 1

    Select the source of the scion. It should be a pear tree that has the qualities you're looking for regarding flowering, fruiting and form. Look at the varieties of trees you have access to and choose the one you like the most. If the pear tree isn't in your yard, ask for the owner's permission to cut one of its branches.

  2. 2

    Collect the scion after the pear tree you'll be using for grafting has gone dormant in late fall or winter. Cut the tip of a branch that's about ½ inch thick and has at least three leaf buds.

  3. 3

    Put the scion in a clean plastic bag. Seal it and store it in the refrigerator until spring.

  4. 4

    Choose the rootstock. Since this is the plant that will hold the new growth forever, it should be in your property, unless you're grafting the pear tree for someone else. Use a hardy and disease-resistant plant for your rootstock.

  5. 5

    Prepare the rootstock after the buds begin to swell in the spring. Choose a branch on the established tree that's about 4 feet from the ground. Cut off and discard the tip. Split the branch in the middle several inches down, keeping both sides attached to one another below the cleft. If the branch is sideways, make a horizontal, not perpendicular, cut.

  6. 6

    Take the scion wood out of the refrigerator. With a sharp grafting knife, shape a tapered wedge at the cut end.

  7. 7

    Insert the tapered end of your scion into the cleft of the rootstock. You may need to use a screwdriver to hold the cleft a little wider while you gently push the scion in. Remove the screwdriver. If the fit seems loose, tie the union with string so scion and rootstock stay in permanent contact.

  8. 8

    Apply grafting wax to the rootstock to cover the entire length and width of the cleft. Also, cover the exposed tips of the scion to keep them from drying out.

  9. 9

    Tie a plank to the scion for support. This will keep birds and the wind from breaking it. You'll see new growth on the scion during spring.

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