How to Graft Pine Trees

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Things You'll Need

  • Sharp grafting knife

  • Sterilizing solution or isopropyl alcohol

  • Moistened burlap

  • Plastic bag

  • Wood saw

  • Parafilm or grafting tape

  • Grafting wax

Graft pine trees successfully using the veneer or bark grafting technique.

According to the Toronto Botanical Gardens, veneer grafting is a method commonly used to propagate conifers, or pine trees. Veneer, also known as bark or inlay, grafting is similar to side grafting and makes use of scions--cuttings a bit thicker than a pencil and 3 to 6 inches tall that include a few buds. These are connected to rootstock over 1 inch in diameter. It is important that the vascular cambium of the scion--the layer of green tissue between the bark and wood--contact the vascular cambium of the rootstock to facilitate exchange of nutrients and adoption of the scion to the rootstock.


Step 1

Disinfect the grafting knife with the sterilizing solution or isopropyl alcohol.

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Step 2

Cut two or three healthy scions from the tree, wrap them immediately in moistened burlap and place them in the plastic bag for transport. If they will not be used immediately store them in a cool location as near 32 degrees F as possible.


Step 3

Clean and sterilize the grafting knife and wood saw.

Step 4

Use the wood saw to cut the rootstock trunk or branch at a right angle to the grain of the wood just above a smooth, knot-free section. Smooth the cut if necessary by trimming with the grafting knife.


Step 5

Cut one slit about 3/4 inch long, or cut two slits, one at each side, the width of the scion.

Step 6

Sterilize the grafting knife again.

Step 7

Cut into the scion at a shallow angle to form a shoulder then cut down toward the bottom of the scion so it forms a wedge.


Step 8

Slide the scion into place in the slit with the cut side facing the center of the rootstock. Push it down into the single slit or at the center of the double slit until the shoulder rests on the edge of the rootstock. Make sure the vascular cambiums are in contact. Peel the bark back at the top edge if necessary to start the scion into the slit.


Step 9

Wrap the graft with parafilm or grafting tape to secure the scion to the rootstock.

Step 10

Apply grafting wax to any exposed cut areas to protect them from insects or disease.


Graft plants when they are dormant from late winter to early spring just before the plants start growing again. Bark grafting is best attempted just before growth starts when the bark separates more easily from the wood. Only plants of similar types graft successfully. Check with a local greenhouse or the horticulture department at a university to find out if the plants you are considering are compatible for grafting.


Handle the grafting knife carefully as it is very sharp. Never cut toward yourself.


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