When grafting (e.g. whip-and-tongue or budding, on apple or rose)...
I repeat, when grafting, not just treating a wound...
... should we apply rosin+wax+oil to the cut surfaces, or instead avoid getting the mix close to the join?

I know we should keep the air out, and the mix does that well, but, on the other hand, as a water repellent, it may serve as a barrier between the stock and scion's cambium.

Product usage instructions I've seen (e.g. here) say "paint over the wound and leave to dry" - obvious for protecting a branch stump, but not clear if that also applies to grafts. Its role is that of a sealant, but tutorials I watched did not show significant care to keep it from the the space between. I understand that in case of fast-solidifying wax, which CAN'T get between, but this is soft like vaseline.

So: Is the mix good for the joining? Bad? Neiter?

1 Answer 1


I have never applied wax to anything other than the wound. I wouldn't want to interfere with the joining of the cambium layers and the wax would do that.

Once joined, the two parts of the graft (the scion and what it's being joined to) must be met so that the cambium of both parts contact each other as much as possible. Where they join must be clean and free of contamination. They're held together in a way that prevent the parts from shifting apart, much the way stitches are used to close a serious cut in your skin. The wound area or the immediate area where the actual cut is, where the bark or skin is, should be covered in some way to prevent contamination of inside of the cut. In the case of a skin wound, this may be an antiseptic salve and bandage. For a graft, wax or other protection may be applied around the area to prevent contamination where the two parts are joined.

You're right that you want to keep the air out and the wax, applied to the area around the wound and the wound itself, the area where the graft stock is joined to the root stock, will do that.

  • 1
    Thank you for the answer :) If I may just ask you to reword for less ambiguity, please? 2nd sentence: "wax bad for cambium joining", 1st sentence: "I apply to the wound". Perhaps I don't understand the terminology correctly? What do you mean by "wound"? "Wound" IS a word used in the context of grafting (uvm.edu/~orchard/fruit/treefruit/tf_horticulture/topworking.pdf), but my imperfect grasp of English makes me read that as a contradiction.
    – kaay
    Sep 19, 2023 at 5:45
  • 2
    Grafting marries two materials together. Do not interfere where they meet, but seal around the graft to keep air out. Air will dry the exposed areas rather than allow them to grow together. That's where the wax comes in, not in between the raw wood. When you wrap a sandwich, you would never put foil or paper inside the sandwich! Sep 19, 2023 at 17:18
  • Thank you, @YosefBaskin :) I met some people who were confident in the opposite, having been misled by the product use instructions which only refer to painting stumps.
    – kaay
    Sep 21, 2023 at 7:38
  • I'd like to accept an answer, but, @chuck-darney, while I'm sure it's not what you meant, both your 1st and 2nd sentence sound as though you're saying "wax on the join is good, I always do that and it keeps air out".
    – kaay
    Sep 23, 2023 at 7:55

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