How to grow more trees without planting more trees...

09 March, 2016

I love variety. Variety is the spice of life, and the backyard fruit patch.

I can't just grow one apple, one peach. I have (at last count) 57 varieties of apple, 8 cherries, 3 peaches, 6 plums, 2 nectarines, 1 apricot, 2 avocados, 2 oranges, 2 limes and on it goes.

But still I want more.

But I don't have space for more.

What to do? Graft.

I learnt how to bud graft stone fruit the year before last, and had some success with this method.

So much so that I was determined to do more bud grafting. But the challenge with grafting, alongside learning the technique, is access to known variety scion.

Scion is the name for bits of tree that you take from the desired variety, to then graft onto your current tree.

Different trees like (or do better) to be grafted at different times of the year. Now is the time for most stone fruit i.e. peaches, nectarines, apricots and to a lesser extent plums. Generally apples and pears (and also plums) are grafted by different methods later in the year.

So I attended the Werribee Park Heritage Orchard grafting day held earlier in February, where scion for peaches, plum and apricots from the orchards extensive collection of varieties was available for sale.

The kindly volunteers from the WPHO had big tables where all the scion was laid out, and you could chat to them about the merits of various varieties to your hearts content.

All the scion was laid out in plastic bags for your selection.

There was lots of information on type, flavour, ripening time and other useful facts.

You could choose your scion (a bargain at $3 each) and buy a rootstock tree ($15) and then either watch the experts, or take a number and get them to graft it for you.

Better service than the big green shed for sure!

Having had some success with bud grafting before, I felt confident enough to take home just the scion and one rootstock tree.

The Biggs Red May peach got grafted onto my donut peach, which is also an early peach. This should make netting and picking easy.

The O'Henry and Golden Gem are later, so these got grafted onto the bought rootstock (I had planned a double graft, so chose a rootstock plant with two good stems), which is now sitting happily in the orchard amongst the apple cordon espaliers, until I figure out where to plant it.

The Early Laxton plum is a little bit of an experiment, as bud grafting can work, but often people have more success with grafting a whole piece of scion, not just the bud, and later in the year (around June from what I hear). But they gave me the piece of scion for free, so I had a go at grafting it onto one of my wicking pot plums.

The apricots got grafted onto the rootstock of a failed apricot graft from the last grafting experiment. The rootstock had survived, so I've kept it with the intention of grafting again, and finally got around to it.

Fingers crossed these grafts take.

If you are interested in grafting, and live in or can get to Melbourne, the Werribee Park Heritage Orchard has two grafting days, the February one just gone and another in July. See here for details. See you there!


  1. I've never done any of that! It's like you're speaking a foreign language...and all those different varieties! It's mind-boggling. ;-)

    1. It sounds difficult, but really the process isn't that hard. I always thought grafting would be too difficult for me, but surprisingly its not!
      Varieties and the sheer abundance of choice is always difficult, but that's why I like grafting - to get more options with the same number of trees in the same space. Win win.

  2. I am so inspired by this! Moving to a smaller garden, so this may well be the way of the future for me:)

    1. It's a great option for smaller spaces, especially on dwarf rootstock too.