Follow these top tips to add more stone fruit to your backyard and learn how to bud fruit trees.
By Jane Varkulevicius
A present of bud-wood is the perfect gift. What could be better than more delicious homegrown fruit?
Even if you have space for just one tree, it’s easy to have up to four different cultivars on one plant. You can extend its harvest time by adding cultivars that ripen in turn over the season — or just delight in more of your favourite fruit. All you need are a few sticks of bud-wood.
If you would like to have stonefruit over a long period, here are some suggested cultivars that will ripen early (E), mid season (M) or late season (L):
May Grand E
Golden Queen L
Remember that nectarines can be budded onto peaches and vice-versa. All these peaches and nectarines are self-fertile, so they do not need a cross-pollinator.
Blood plums need cross-pollination — these two are compatible.
Jefferson (green gage) M
President (purple with yellow flesh) M
D’Agen (fresh eating or prunes) L
European plums can be self-fertile but produce better crops when they can cross-pollinate with another European plum.
European and Japanese plums can be budded onto the same rootstock. That is, bud them onto any existing plum tree.
Budding is just like grafting but using only a single bud from the desired plant instead of a short piece of wood. So hunt down those special trees with the type of peach, nectarine or plum you want to grow. These are all stonefruit and can be successfully budded onto an existing stone fruit tree.
Budding apricot/plum buds to an apricot/plum tree and peach/nectarine buds to a peach/nectarine tree improves your chances of success.
How To: Fruit tree budding
You will need sharp secateurs, a budding or round-ended sharp knife, some budding tape and some grafting mastic or petroleum jelly.
Step 1: Select stems of the desired cultivar that is of the current season’s growth — that is, new wood that’s at least the thickness of a pencil. Wrap them in some damp (not wet) newspaper to prevent the stems drying out but not make the buds soggy. The rind/bark should still be soft and easy to manipulate to make the job of budding easier.
Step 2 Before you remove the bud from the stem, find a small branch on your tree that is about the same diameter as your budding stems.
Step 3 Make an incision with a sharp knife in the shape of a T on the small branch you are budding to. Make sure you make the cut on the shady side of the stem so there’s less likelihood of the bud drying out.
Step 4 Gently fold back the bark of the T incision to expose the green/cambium layer. This is where all the water and nutrients flow and sustain the tree.
Step 5 Now prepare the bud. Using your very sharp or specialised budding knife, gently scoop out the bud from the stem you have collected. The leaf stem can be used as a handle. Removing the wood from behind the bud can make it easier to insert.
Step 6 Carefully slot the bud behind the two flaps of bark made by the T incision so the most raised part of the bud is well below the horizontal cut and the green, cambial layers of the bud and the branch match as closely as possible.
Step 7 Tie it firmly with budding tape, ensuring that the tip of the bud is not covered. Seal any gaps with grafting mastic or petroleum jelly.
Step 8 Just above your new bud make an inverted V-shaped cut — this will prevent the flow of inhibiting hormones to the new bud and help it become established.
1. A sharp knife, some budding tape and grafting mastic or Vaseline are all you need.
2. Choose buds that are the same size as the stem you are budding onto.
3. Make a T-shaped incision.
4. Peel back the bark to expose the green/cambium layer.
5. Remove the bud.
6. Gently slide the bud into place.
7. Tie with budding tape.
8. Smear the tape with grafting mastic or petroleum jelly to seal it. Always leave the bud exposed.
Keep your existing tree well-watered and soon the bud will have attached to the stem. It may even start to produce a shoot! If it does, cut the shoot back to about three buds when it has become about 15cm long. Next winter, you can remove all the growth above your inserted bud so it can grow on as a new branch — with a different cultivar of fruit from the rest of the tree!