Are Olive Trees Grafted? (Detailed Answer)

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Although grafting is no longer regarded as the ideal method of olive tree propagation, it has been practiced since ancient times.

In this post, I’ll show you the methods people used (and some still use) to graft olive trees.

Key Takeaways:

  • Olive trees have been grafted since ancient times, but it’s less common now.
  • Grafting combines trees with strong roots and desirable fruit.
  • Techniques include spliced, whip, inlay, four-flap, bark, side-veneer, and cleft grafting.
  • Grafting is mainly done in winter/early spring when trees are dormant.
  • Grafting remains used for creating new hybrid cultivars.

Why Olive Trees Are Grafted

man grafting an olive tree

There are several reasons to graft olive trees, but the main one to keep in mind is that we want to use one tree to help another’s crop flourish.

Some trees have roots that are not strong and produce fruit that is very desirable. In comparison, some trees have strong roots but produce little to no fruit.

For instance: Imagine you had a mature red apple tree. This tree has the ideal spot, root system, and produces lots of delicious red apples, and is large and robust enough to withstand the winter. However, you are now considering having a green apple variety as well. But you don’t have place for a second tree, or perhaps you don’t want to wait years for a second tree to begin bearing fruit, so you graft.

Through grafting, strong roots and tasty fruit can be combined into one tree. Moreover, some rootstocks improve the tree’s resilience to disease or its overall survival capacity. The cambium, or growing tissue under the bark, must fuse together for the two types to coexist successfully.

Different Methods of Grafting

The practice of grafting olive trees involves a variety of techniques. These include sliced grafting, whip grafting, inlay grafting, four-flap grafting, and cleft grafting.

1. Cleft Grafting

Cleft grafting, one of the most basic and often used types of grafting, is a technique for top-working both flowering and fruiting trees to alter varieties. Camellia cultivars that are challenging to root can also be propagated by cleft grafting. While the scion and rootstock are still dormant, this sort of grafting is often carried out in the winter and early spring. Cleft grafting can be done on main stems, lateral branches, or scaffold branches.

For cleft grafting, straight-grained rootstock with a diameter of between one and four inches is preferred. The scion needs to be straight, around 14 inches in diameter, and long enough to have three buds at least. Usually, scions between 6 and 8 inches long are the simplest to utilize.

2. Bark Grafting

Bark grafting is mostly used to top-work fruit and flower trees. In contrast to cleft grafting, this method can be used on rootstock with a diameter of 4 to 12 inches. It is carried out in the early spring, just as the wood is beginning to sap heavily. As with cleft grafting, the rootstock is cleanly cut off with a sharp saw.

3. Inlay Grafting

For branches of various diameters, inlay grafting is effective. The inlay method can be used to connect a much smaller olive tree to a branch with quite thick bark.

4. Spliced Grafting

Splice grafting is the process of attaching a scion to the stem of a rootstock or to an entire root piece. This straightforward technique is typically employed on herbaceous materials that callus or “knit” quickly or on plants with a stem diameter of 12 inches or less. Both the stock and the scion in a splice graft must have the same diameter.

5. Side-Veneer Grafting

The side-veneer graft was once a common method for grafting difficult-to-root camellia and rhododendron types. It is currently the most common method of grafting conifers, particularly those with a compact or dwarf form. On potted rootstock, side-veneer grafting is frequently carried out.

6. Saddle Graft

Saddle grafting is a reasonably simple method that can be carried out quite quickly. The stock can be either potted or cultivated in the field. The diameter of the rootstock and scion must match. Use saddle grafting on the dormant stock in mid-to-late winter for the best results. The diameter of the stock shouldn’t be greater than one inch.

7. Whip and Tongue Grafting

Whip and tongue grafting involves uniting wood that is roughly pencil-thin and of equal or nearly equal diameter. So, both the scion and the rootstock should have diameters that are as near to one another as possible.

When To Graft?

grafted olive tree

Most grafting is done in the winter and early spring while the scion and the rootstock are still dormant, in contrast to budding, which can be done either before or during the growing season.

After being grafted, containerized olive plants are placed in sheltered places or unheated overwintering houses. During the actual grafting procedure, containerized olive plants may be transported indoors. Of course, it is necessary to graft in field-grown material.

During the winter, it’s usual practice to graft bare rootstock deciduous trees, which are then preserved till spring planting. Since indoor winter grafting is done on a bench, it is frequently referred to as bench grafting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is olive grafting?

Olive tree grafting is a horticultural procedure where we link a piece of vegetative wood (the scion) from an olive cultivar we intend to propagate to a receptive rootstock to continue their growth together. They will eventually combine to create a new olive tree; we sometimes refer to it as a hybrid tree.

What can I graft onto an olive tree?

You should never graft outside of the varieties of olive trees. Most olive varieties can coexist. However, you cannot graft an olive scion or lemon rootstock onto an olive scion because only plants with similar genetic makeup may be effectively grafted. Of course, you can try grafting different species but don’t expect any results.

How long does it take for an olive tree graft to heal?

According to the Oliviada Olive blog, the healing process for the olive tree graft takes about six weeks, but in some cases, results can be seen much later, at around six months.

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