Best Grafts for Tropical Fruit Trees

Grafted young fruit tree
Berezko / Getty Images

If you are growing tropical fruit you may find you need to use grafting to reproduce trees you have, or to change an old tree or parts of it from bearing one fruit to bearing another variety.

When it comes time to do this specialty work, it’s nice to be able to learn from the efforts of professional growers that have come before us, so that you don’t have to use trial and error to find the most successful grafts to use. Here, I’ve collected some professionals’ recommendations of what grafts are most successful for some popular species of tropical fruit.

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    Splice, whip, cleft, wedge and veneer. Scions used are taken from the matured terminal ends of shoots.

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    Cleft, splice, and splice approach grafting.

    Source: Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanical Garden. “Breadfruit Propagation”

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    Similar to cleft grafting but done using softwood scions: a long cut is made into the rootstock and a scion bottomed by a long wedge, about 3”, inserted.

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    Castinel, Pouteria


    Source: “Pouteria Fruits For The Future.” International Centre for Underutilised Crops, School for Civil Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK. 2004.

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    Custard Apple, Chermioya, Sugar Apple, Atemoyas

    Cleft or bark grafting, or T-budding.

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    A side veneer graft. Cleft grafting and budding is also used.

    Source: Campbell, Richard J. and Noris Ledesma. “Jackfruit Propagation.” Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden website.

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    Cleft, whip, side-stub, and approach. Use wood from the end of this growing season, nearly fully hardened but not so.

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    Cleft grafting and veneer.

    Source: Morton, Julia.. “Loquat.” In: Fruits of warm climates. 1987.

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    Veneer grafting is the most practiced in Florida. Chip budding and saddle grafting are used, and spliced approach graft is also used in India and has long traditional usage there. 

    Cleft and whip are also recommended by Campbell & Ledesma.

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    Cleft, whip, side-wedge, or approach.

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    Approach grafting, 100% success. Approach grafting under shadecloth from a top-cut rootstock to a live plant as a scion using a (very small) cleft graft, 88% success. The other method tried, standard cleft grafting, was not more than 42% successful in trials.

    Source: Bryan Brunner. “Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) Grafting Experiments.”  University of Puerto Rico.

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    Side veneer, approach.

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    Side-veneer or shield budding work easily.

    Source: Morton, Julia.. “Tamarind.” In: Fruits of warm climates. 1987.

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    Unless otherwise noted, source for information is Hartmann, Hudson T. and Dale E. Kester. Plant Propagation Principles and Practices, 7 ed. 2002.

    For excellent further reading on the care and propagation of more minor tropical species available free online, Julia Morton’s Fruits of warm climates has many in-depth articles organized by species.

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