At Canada Blooms I was at a booth where they demonstrated fruit grafting and received an 18” scion with a gala apple graft. It grew in a pot over the summer and I was told to plant it in fall. Do you have any recommendations for planting or would it be an idea to keep it on its pot until it gets bigger? If it’s kept in the pot, should it be indoors, outdoors or in a garage and how much water would it need over the winter? Thank you.
Grafting is one way to propagate several varieties of fruit trees, including apples. The process involves removing the scions, or a small piece of wood collected from a parent plant, and grafting it onto the rootstock of another tree.
Most fruit trees, and apple trees in particular, require a chilling time in order to stimulate bud development come spring. I would recommend planting the sapling in the garden for the winter. Surrounding the sapling with chicken wire will protect it from rabbits trying to nipple the supple young bark.
For best fruiting, an apple tree requires “full sunlight,” which means choosing a site which receives six or more hours of direct sun and well-drained fertile soil.
When ready to plant make sure to dig a hole approximately twice the diameter of the root system. Make sure that the graft union is at least 2 inches above the soil line so that roots do not emerge from the scion.
Place some of the loose soil back into the hole and loosen the soil on the walls of the planting hole so the roots can easily penetrate the soil. Spread the tree roots on the loose soil, making sure they are not twisted or crowded in the hole. Continue to replace soil around the roots. As you begin to cover the roots, firm the soil to be sure it surrounds the roots and to remove air pockets. Do not add fertilizer at planting time, as the roots can be “burned”. Make sure to water the tree at the time of planting.