Skip to main content

When is the best time to graft your fruit trees? Here are our suggestions

Grafting fruit trees is a great way to make sure you know what variety of fruit you’re getting, diversify your orchard or yard, and get some extra fruit for snacks or meals! The process itself is fairly simple, and there are plenty of resources out there to help you with the technical parts. The timeline can be a little more confusing. When is the best time to graft fruit trees? How long does grafting a fruit tree actually take? If you aren’t sure about when to start grafting to get the best results, then this guide is for you.

Orange tree
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When is the best time to take cuttings?

There are two types of cuttings: hardwood and softwood.

Hardwood cuttings are taken in late fall, winter, and early spring, when the tree is dormant. These cuttings are the growth from the previous spring and so have had several months to a year to mature. They’re less flexible but sturdy.

Softwood cuttings can only be taken in spring as they are the new growth for the season. These cuttings are more flexible and tend to attach faster but aren’t as sturdy.

When grafting trees, flexibility is more important than sturdiness, so take softwood cuttings in the spring. You can still use hardwood cuttings, but they take longer to adjust to being part of a different tree and are slightly more likely to fail.

Recently grafted tree, with the new branches still secured to the tree
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When is the best time to start grafting?

The best time to graft fruit trees is around spring, when plants begin gearing up to grow, making it easier to establish a connection between the two trees. There are a few routes you can take with this.

If you’re taking softwood cuttings, you can graft your trees right after you take the cuttings without issue. If you choose to take hardwood cuttings, or if you’re purchasing cuttings and have to wait on them to arrive, you can graft them in summer. It may not recover as quickly, but the difference shouldn’t be significant. If you have hardwood cuttings or softwood cuttings that have been stored, another option is to begin grafting in late winter, right before spring.

The only times that you should avoid starting your grafts are fall and early winter. This is when trees are dormant, meaning they aren’t putting out new growth. The grafts will attach in fall, especially in early fall in a mild climate, but it takes roughly twice as long. Late winter is OK because the graft won’t have to wait long before beginning to grow. If you graft in fall or early winter the cut ends of your graft will be exposed to the elements for much longer and are more susceptible to rot or disease.

A grafted tree with a healed graft, the smaller branch is growing fully out of the older, larger branch
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How long does grafting take?

The amount of time it takes depends on the type of graft you use. In general, the more material you have grafted or the larger your graft is, the longer it will take to heal and grow. Grafts that are only a single branch grafted onto an existing tree will heal and become part of the tree in a week and a half to two weeks. From there, the branch grows as normal, and you can expect flowers and fruit on schedule with the type of tree you’ve grafted from.

Larger grafts, however, take longer. If you’re using a technique such as whip grafting to grow a new tree from the root stock of another, that is a more strenuous undertaking for the tree. A graft like that will take three to six weeks to heal and become a single tree. It then grows as normal, and you can reasonably expect to see flowers and fruit a year later.

There you have it, the timeline for grafting fruit trees! Now you know when you can expect to be able to take the dressings off your graft and how soon after that you can expect fruit. Be sure your shears are sharp when taking your cuttings, bind your graft tightly, and start in the late winter, spring, or summer for the best results. Small grafts should take only a week or two to heal, while larger ones may take a month or two. Enjoy your extra fruit!

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
The best (and worst) watermelon companion plants
Grow these plants alongside your watermelons
Growing watermelon

Watermelons are sweet, juicy, and perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day. If you want to grow them in your garden, then you’ll need a lot of space. With their sprawling vines and large fruits, watermelon plants take up a lot of room, even if you grow them on a trellis.

You might even think they don’t leave any room for other plants, but that isn’t the case. There are still plenty of watermelon companion plants you can grow with your sweet summer fruit. Whether you’d like to pair your watermelons with other fruits and veggies, herbs, or even flowers, here are our favorite watermelon companion plants -- and the ones you should avoid.
Fruits and vegetables

Read more
The best (and worst) broccoli companion plants
Plant these with your broccoli
Harvesting broccoli

Broccoli is a delicious vegetable that is surprisingly easy to grow. However, unless you’re just a huge fan of broccoli, you’ll likely want to grow a few other plants as well. Unfortunately, brassicas (such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage) aren’t considered great companion plants for many other vegetables, due to how many resources they need to grow. To help you plan your next vegetable garden, here is our list of broccoli companion plants that you should consider -- and a few you should avoid.
Beets, carrots, and radishes

Small root vegetables, such as beets, radishes, and carrots. make great broccoli companion plants. They need far fewer resources to grow, which means they won’t be competing with your broccoli plants for nutrients. Additionally, they enjoy the same growing conditions as broccoli. Broccoli is a cool-weather crop that grows best in early spring or mid-fall, as they can bolt quickly in hot weather. Carrots, beets, and radishes are the same way, making them perfect broccoli companion plants. Both broccoli and these small root vegetables can tolerate a frost, and small root vegetables even taste sweeter after a frost because of chill sweetening.

Read more
When are pears in season? What you need to know
Here's the perfect time to pick your pear harvest
Pears on cutting board

Sweet, juicy, and crispy, pears are not only versatile in recipes, but they’re also some of the easiest fruits to grow in a home garden. They ever-so-slightly resemble apples in look and taste but tend to be much more resistant to pests and diseases. Plus, they're full of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium for added benefits to your health.

So, when are pears in season, and when can you pick them for cooking and eating? We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about growing, harvesting, and preparing pears for delicious homegrown snacks!
Growing pears

Read more