I have wild black cherry tree about 30 feet tall ... I don't want to cut
it down, is it possible to graft some sweet cherries onto it, a couple of
varieties that will cross-pollinate? I'm thinking the lower branches
could be sweet cherries. where would one get cuttings to graft on? I'm a
complete novice to grafting.
Without researching it, I would guess that wild black cherry was in the same
family as sweet cherry. That is something you have to first check out. I know
crab apples will pollinate regular apple trees, but the analogy could break
down, in this case.
As for grafting, there are places that sell scion wood, including the sweet
cherry varieties. It may be too late in the season to do a standard 'whip and
the summer time would be ok to do some bud grafting. There is lot's of material
the web on this kind of grafting. Just google for 'bud grafting'.
Unfortunately, being in the same genus doesn't indicate that grafting
will be a success. Sometimes being in the same species isn't enough,
either, e.g. graft incompatibilities between pear varieties.
On the other hand, some Prunus species are graft compatible, so it's
certainly worth a try. The black cherry (probably P.serotina, a
North American native) will almost certainly not pollinate the sweet
cherry (P.avium, IIRC), however.
Laura, the best place to get fresh scion wood for bud grafting is from
local trees. Look around your neighbourhood and ask your friends so
you'll know who to approach later this summer. Do lots of bud grafts
and select which ones to let grow next year, after you see how many,
if any, take. Don't be surprised if some take, then die over the next
few years, since graft incompatibility can be delayed.
The technique of cleft grafting is usually used to convert trees from
one variety to another. You can try that early next spring.
Good luck with your experiments and share the results with us here.
Even if the grafts fail, you'll have acquired some skill which you
can use to add varieties to a sweet cherry tree you may buy. Sweet
cherries are large trees, but there are some genetic dwarfs -- Lapin
and Compact Stella, IIRC. The black cherry tree may attract birds
away from the sweet cherries, so don't cut it down.
Whoa! Don't go too far too fast. Prunus is a large genus and off the top
of my head I recall that cherries and plums and apricots and peaches and
nectarines and sloes and almonds (of all things) are all members. I'm
pretty sure that the requirements for successful grafting are much
stricter than mere membership in the same genus otherwise you'd surely
seem some serious franken-fruit trees for sale at every nursery.
Now, mixing genes to produce new kinds of fruit is a different matter.
We are talking about grafting two species together. The way they sell
trees at most nurseries, you wouldn't know if your cherry was sitting on
top of a plum or peach rootstock.
My original thought was not to totally rule out the possibility of a graft
union between most members of Prunus. I would say that fruits in the Prunus
would be a requirement for compatible grafting, not a done deal. You can
graft cherries onto certain plum rootstocks, etc. There is a lot of
I found a reference to some people in Nafex who grafted sweet cherries on
capulin (Prunus salicifolia) with limited short term success, but they
all died out. Capulin very similar to black cherry, is used as a rootstock
European sweet cherries in Guatemala. The whole idea of grafting sweet
onto a wild black cherry seems risky, at best. I have to defer to our Toronto
friend on this one. There are plenty of genetic differences at the species
make this kind of graft difficult, if not impossible.
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