Saturday, February 27, 2016

Grafting Ginkgo biloba tree. 2.27.16

Whip/Tongue Grafted Ginkgo biloba.  2.27.16
Today I grafted the third of the Ginkgo biloba trees.  The scion if from a tree grown from seeds that my Dad collected, nearly 30 years ago.  I want to keep the tree if possible, after moving from the Vancouver house to the Battleground place. 

The rootstocks are Ginkgo trees that I started from seeds 3 years ago.  They are all on containers.

The cambium layer seems very thin and delicate.  The wood is harder to cut accurately, compared to apple and pear wood.

If the grafts don't take, I'm sure the rootstock trees will regrow from the buds below the graft.  But I want them to take.

In case they need protection longer, compared to apples and pears, I wrapped the entire length of the scion.  They are double-wrapped, first polyethylene grafting tape, then parafilm tape.  Both tapes are 1/2 inch wide.


  1. Hello Daniel,
    Found your Blog while searching for Ginkgo grafting information. I have been unsuccessful for 3 or 4 years in a row now. Basically trying to put known Male scion on unknown Ginkgo root stock. The graft does not take and I wonder if you or one of your blog readers might be able to help. I have a few questions to start with.
    1. scion timing - late winter, no bud swelling?
    2. stock timing - same or early Spring?
    3. graft pliers tool making a saddle cut?
    4. any hormone dip on cuts? water? dry?
    5. suggested wrap, grafting wax needed?
    Another Central Illinois Ginkgo fan with a 30 ft. female and at no loss for Ginkgo seeds for seedlings except this last Fall 2016. Thanks for any advice offered.

  2. Hi There,

    Nice to hear from someone from my old stomping grounds, sort of. My older ginkgo trees were from seeds, saved by my dad in Quincy. The source tree was from the neighborhood where I grew up, yard of a very nice German gentleman.

    I grafted last year 2016 in Feb, 3 scion from the known male tree from my dad's seeds, onto 3 seedlings from local trees. The seedlings and the scion were both about pencil thickness. I used scion from the newest growth, so that was growth from 2015. These grafts were in Feb although in Illinois March is probably better. I tried to take them somewhat shortly before bud swell. It's OK if the under stock has bud swell, but the scion should be fully dormant. It's OK to refrigerate your scion to ensure that it stays dormant, just seal in heavy duty plastic zip-lock bags. Sometimes if I do that, I dip the bottom end in candle wax but I'm kind of random about that. I always use whip and tongue grafting, which makes the tightest bond. I use a grafting knife. Some people use a utility knife which they say ensures a sharp blade, I don't know if that's true but maybe. Whip and tongue grafting can be hazardous for the grafter and some joke that it takes a blood sacrifice to become successful :-) I have learned how to do it without the knife slipping, but I don't have the teaching talent to describe how. A grafting tool would be safer but I have no experience with those. No hormone treatment which might encourage rooting but I doubt helps the graft. I have not read about that. I don't dip in water but it might help, I don't know.

    I wrapped with 1/2" vinyl grafting tape. Lately I've been experimenting, and found that cutting Ziplock® freezer bags into approx 1/2" wide strips, has similar stretching properties can can make a tight wrap. I was wrapping the rest of the graft with Parafilm® wrap, but that's expensive. I am experimenting now with using candle wax painting on with a paint brush. I painted some on my hand and it didn't seem too hot at all. Another option is using thinner polyethylene for the rest of the scion since it doesn't need to be as tight as the graft itself. I usually leave 2 buds of scion. I don't think a lot of grafts can support more than 2 buds, and you only need one. Lastly, the ginkgo buds only grew a tuft of leaves, while the under-stock grew much longer stems. Ginkgos seem to grow just a tuft of leaves when they are stressed. I've had that happen with transplanting them, too. I just recently pruned off those lower growths, and am hoping that the grafts will take off and grow like gangbusters this year. I have only done 3 ginkgo grafts. Two took, one did not.


  3. Summary for what I did for these ginkgos -
    1. Scion was dormant.
    2. Stock was dormant. Timing for me was Feb in Pacific NW. Based on other trees, it's less important that the stock be dormant, but scion does need to be.
    3. I used whip & tongue. Ginkgo stems are harder to make good cuts compared to apple or pear, so it took several tries. Be careful! Grafting can be hazardous to fingers!
    4. The scion length that I used, is 2 buds which was about 3 inches.
    5. I wrapped with vinyl grafting tape and over-wrapped with Parafilm® tape. Doing it again, I might cut my own tape from Ziplock® bags. Oh, the top end of the scion should be sealed, I usually use candle wax. Around the graft itself, a tight seal is important because pressure promotes organized cell union instead of random callous. On the rest of the scion, the purpose of wrapping is prevent dehydration, and does not need to be tight.
    6. For me, growth the first year was just a tuft of cells. I pruned off growth from the understock, during the summer just leaving the first couple of leaves per stem, to provide nutrition. During the winter, I cut off those side stems entirely.

    I hope that is helpful! I am also amateur, so someone else might have better info. If I made a mistake, it was in leaving the wrap in place all summer and fall. I think that restricted growth somewhat, and will not know until they leaf out, if that caused a problem. But the top buds do look fat and viable, which is good.