Garden Photo of the Day

Learning to Graft Apples

Propagating a beloved tree

Today we’re visiting with Jocelyn Spicer in Washougal, Washington.

I enjoy checking the GPOD every day or two for inspiration. I’ve been gardening on and off for decades, but this is the first year it’s really come into full focus, and it has been unbelievably challenging and unbelievably fun. I garden on half an acre in town. I began in 2019 with several garden projects in mind, but first among them was grafting apple trees. In February, my husband and I drove through a break in the snowy weather to my brother’s house in Vancouver, Washington, where we took the cuttings from a King apple tree my father had planted back in the 1980s. We don’t really know which variety of King it is, and I am still learning about apple trees generally. We popped the cuttings into a plastic bag with moist paper towels wrapped around them, took them home, and tucked them into the beverage fridge next to a bottle of neighborly sangria. A few weeks later, my brother, my niece, and I got together and grafted 15 trees onto various rootstock. Lo and behold, 11 of them actually worked! It was all very exciting. My brother took some of them home to his garden, and I plan on growing most of mine in containers (they are grafted on mini dwarf root stock). I potted them up in a soil mix of equal parts vermiculite, peat moss, and compost. This seemed to retain the moisture well. It was so successful that I may graft more in the new year.

We also have a sunny back orchard area already filled with seven young semi-dwarf apple trees of various kinds, two of them now old enough to produce a good amount of fruit.

grafted apple treesOne of the newly grafted apple trees all leafed out

‘Chehalis’ apple blossoms‘Chehalis’ apple blossoms in the orchard from last spring

A view of the back orchard, looking west

RudbeckiaThe opposite view in the orchard, looking east through some new Rudbeckia in bloom

Honeycrisp applesA loaded branch of Honeycrisp apples from this fall


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 01/09/2020

    Thank you for the mini lesson apple grafting. I love to try stuff as well but I haven't done anything as interesting as that.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/09/2020

    Gosh, what an interesting challenge to undertake and kudos to you and your family members for your success. Actually getting to the point when you harvest apples from those grafted trees should be immensely gratifying...literally the fruit of your labors. And how nice that there will be the sense of family history associated with them...all very special.

  3. User avater
    simplesue 01/09/2020

    Thats interesting to learn, thanks for sharing...I was curious why one would graft.

  4. User avater
    simplesue 01/09/2020

    I don't have the land for a project like this but, I really enjoyed reading your story, and seeing the photos.
    Ooooh, if I was younger I think I'd move and grow some fruit trees....sigh...
    It's been so long since I've seen an apple blossom, and apples are something with price code stickers on them in the grocery.
    It would be paradise to go outside and pick your own..

  5. btucker9675 01/09/2020

    What a fun thing to learn and do! The photo of the Honey Crisps made my mouth water - they are my favorite eating apple. I've eaten an apple a day for most of my life.

  6. jocelynsp 01/10/2020

    Thank you for the lovely comments! We are fortunate to have the space for a small apple orchard. We may downsize in a few short years and I am growing them in pots too so we can take some small trees with us. Our big challenge this year will be to continue to learn how to keep the critters and worms out of the apples!

  7. MegSpence 11/18/2020

    These flowers are looking so beautiful. We should take care of these flowers. As the plants and trees are an important part of the environment so always take part in promoting these flowers and plants and now they can visit for students life hacks. Good to see and read about these flowers after so long.

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