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Grafting Apple to Non-Fruiting Pear Tree Question.

16 years ago

Hi. I have a new fruit tree gardener question. I moved a year ago from a home with a wonderful, mature apple tree to a home with three mature Non fruiting pear trees.

Our old house hasn't sold yet. I had a thought that maybe I could graft some of those delicious branches from the Old Man Apple Tree to our Pear Trees at our New home.

Is this a Possibility?

All trees are strong and in excellent health. The non-fruiting trees produce tons of fruitful berries for the birds.

It would certainly save me some space to plant some other fruit trees in my limited yard space plus bring my beloved tree Home with us.

Thank you for your help!



Comments (41)

  • 16 years ago

    What type of pear trees are those?

    A trick shared by Lucky P is to first graft Winter Banana Apples and then graft the Old Man apple unto the grafted Winter Banana Apple. It can be done in one season as long as you store the scionwood of Old Man apple properly.

    You will have to find the Winter Banana apple scionwood first.

    But some non-fruiting pears may not be compatible with Winter Banana apple, but almost all fruiting European pears are, at least from those that I tried.

  • 16 years ago

    Thank you for the hopeful post.
    Could you explain in laymans terms.
    What /where is winter banana apple?
    Is this like crabapple?
    I better start googling quick...

    This will be my first attempt at Grafting.
    I will certainly do several branches on several trees too.

    Could you detail how I would properly store my oldman apple cuttings.
    I will probably have access to the tree for the next several months.

  • 16 years ago


    If you consider yourself to have been encouraged to try to graft apple to Callery pears via an interstock of Winter Banana apple, give it up. In layman's terms, this is a hopeless enterprise if I have ever heard one.

    Eventually, a strong thunderstorm with winds will shatter your Callery pear trees, no matter how healthy they may seem now. if you are short of space, cut one of them down before the wind does it for you, plant an apple rootstock, and graft to that.

    Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

  • 16 years ago

    I'm with Don on this one.
    Heck, if you can't find some actual apple rootstocks, you could just go to the local 'big box' store, purchase one of their cheap containerized grafted apple or crabapples(you can't count on them being true-to-label-name anyway), and regraft most of the branches to Old Man apple, then plant in a spot safe from the effects of self-destructing callery pear fallout.

  • 16 years ago

    Yes, I agree with the two gurus above. I asked what pears were those for compatibility purposes. Don, how did you know those are Callery pears? Over here we have Bradford Pears, but just the same, they easily break in strong winds and even have summer limb drop which drops some big branches in the middle of summer on cars below. So those pears must go according to the two gurus above.

    I would have suggested to buy some cheap grafted apples from the stores but I didn't know what non-fruiting pears Natasha has and if they are compatible.

    It is not too late yet to buy bare-rooted trees. You would still find some bare-rooted items at HD or other big box stores in your area. And you can graft unto the bare-rooted ones after you plant them. Just store some of your Old Man apple scionwood until your planted bare rooted tree begins to push.

    You will have to severely prune your bare-rooted tree right after planting. You can even dormant graft them that same day.

    So what would be the best crab-apple or cheap apple that would be a good disease resistant base for Natasha in Utah?

  • 16 years ago


    Callery is a general classification. Bradford, Cleveland, Aristocrat, and all the others are cultivars of Callery. Although it is possible to graft a fruiting pear to a Callery roostock, why would you want to?

    Callery pears have been widely planted as decorative specimens all over the country, and are numerous in Virginia, where they fall down and drop limbs all the time due to their weak branch structure and brittle wood. They have also begun to naturalize heavily, and will soon be considered an invasive species.

    Most of the people who plant these trees will eventually ask:"What was I thinking?" They can be pretty in spring with their burst of white blooms, but that's about it.

    Google "Callery Pears" and read all about it.

    Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

  • 16 years ago

    Thank you for the excellent insight on the Pear variety.

    The Pear Three Pear trees are located in the best positions in a small yard for any fruiting tree, in my opinion.

    I assume they are close to 20 years old and with the heavy snow we get of 1 foot snow storms and the wind gusts of 50 mph off the canyon (I live right at the base of some of the Rocky Mountains) they haven't lost any branches or anything.

    But, perhaps, when they are older I will se what you are reporting. I do enjoy watching the 50 plus birds thrive on their fruit. I think our house has become a center point of feeding during winter months off the mountain.

    Perhaps I will just remove one of them, as suggested. The birds will certainly enjoy any of the fruit I accidently didn't remove at the end of the year, with a delicious crisp apple. ;)

    So Question~~~~
    Can I plant a bare root Apple Tree into a 15 gallon pot, to get it started plus graft some of the Old Man Apple Branches on to it at the same time.
    Or is this too shocking?

    Does anyone have any good links or articles I could read on best tips and advice for first time grafting of fruit trees so I can get it right the first time. I have an encyclopedia of Gardening I am also going to utilize in this process. But, more knowledge is better than less.

  • 16 years ago


    You have some very reasonable alternatives open to you to save your old apple tree, as suggested by Lucky, Joe, and even me.

    Yes, you could plant a bare root apple tree in a pot, then graft some old man scions to it. Not shocking at all. But, since grafts take better when the understock is already established and growing, my personal preference would be to buy an inexpensive potted tree from Home Depot or any other source, then graft your scions to it as it begins to wake up and push leaves. Try to find a potted tree on a semi dwarfing rootstock, since that will give you a nice, midsize tree. Since you are only buying one, this is more practical than trying to purchase a rootstock. You have your option, should you wish to do so, of grafting the old man apple while also preserving the variety you have purchased, ending up with a two-variety tree. Or, you could clip it way down, and grow an exclusive old-man tree.

    For now, you should clip the scions you intend to use, and place them in refrigeration. You want the scion part to be dead dormant when you graft so that the union has time to heal before the scion wakes up and demands nutrients from below. In Utah, you should be able to graft in April or right into May, provided the scion is still dormant.

    There are loads of sites on the internet that illustrate grafting, but one of the best is from our own Joe Real, who grafts more than the rest of the civilized world. He can graft with his eyes closed, or while sleepwalking. I would give you a link to Joe's tutorial, but I don't save links. Maybe he will give it to you himself.

    I certainly support removal of one of the Callery pears to put in a nice apple tree. In fact, I would take them all down and plant fruiting trees. Utah is not a bad place to grow them.

    Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

  • 16 years ago

    Thanks Don, but man that was an extreme description. I take that as a compliment.

    For a novice, I would recommend either bark grafting (if the barks are slipping, during budswelling to leafing out of the stack) or cleft grafting (the destination tree is dormant).

    Here are the links:
    Cleft Grafting tutorial
    Limb Bark Grafting

  • 16 years ago


    It was a compliment.

    Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

  • 16 years ago

    Don and Joe, Thank you both Very Much!!

    I know which two trees I will remove, the other I will leave for the birds and for the privacy it provides from the neighbors. The color is excellent in the neighborhood in fall. Most of the leaves turn yellow in our neighborhood. The red is a highlight!

    I am going to go with the Home Depot Idea for the Apple Grafting. Taking Scions from my old apple tree and putting them in my second fridge. Now, I need to read up on your site Joe. So I know how much to cut and how to do it.

    Again, I appreciate your help.
    We had terrific luck doing absolutely nothing with the apple tree we inherited when we purchased the first house.
    It was a tangled weaving mess that seemed at least 25 years old.
    We did an enormous amount of pruning 3 straight years in a row and barely made a dent in it.
    It always produced lovely apples that were sweet, crisp and a rather large crop.

    I tend to get attached to trees. It would be nice to bring a little bit of him with us.
    Thank you for the good ideas.

  • 16 years ago

    Ok, Ok, first
    I hope everyone (Jellyman, Joe, Lucky) are still paying attention to this thread. Is it accurate that Winter Banana is compatible with pear? If so has anyone ever used WB as a bridge between the dwarfing apple rootsocks like m9 or m7, etc. and a desirable pear scion? This seems like it could open up a whole can of worms rootstock wise for southwestern pear growers.

    Also DragonFlyWings, a good way to store scion wood of your Old Man Apple is to place them in a ziplock bag with a moist papertowel. Not too wet but moist. Then place the bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. You can store scion wood for a long time that way.

    On another note it is great to be able to listen to ya'lls knowledge. It is very helpfull to us all.


  • 16 years ago


    Winter banana is said to be an interstock that makes a pear rootstock compatible with apple. I say it is "said" to have that capability, however briefly such a graft may survive, because I have never tried such a thing myself. Why would I? I grow apples on apple rootstocks, and pears on pear rootstocks. Works very well.

    I will concede that there may be special circumstances when grafting an apple to a pear rootstock would be helpful. But I do not have any such circumstances here, and am not interested in trying to prove that a pear can be grafted to an apple.

    Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

  • 16 years ago

    I have Fertility pear on one of my apple trees with Hosui and Golden Russet pears grafted onto it.

    I also have Winter banana on my sister's pear tree and plan to add some other apples if it does well. Mine have only been on for a year so far.

    They have callused and grown in an apparently healthy fashion, but I know that delayed incompatibility can show up years later on seemingly very healthy and vigorous trees.

    So far so good.

    Don, I have 4 apple trees I didn't ask for in the right of way between the sidewalk and street on my corner lot. I don't know what they are but they are some type of size controlling rootstock. They have a big healthy root system and seem pretty indestructible. That's my circumstance where playing around with grafting pears seems like a great idea to me.

    Of course I am interested in trying to prove it can be done and think it will be quite the conversation piece if I can get several pears and apples fruiting at the same time.

    I know Joe Real has a number of pomme species on the same tree.

    I also have fertility pear on my apple tree, but I can't remember right now if I have any pears grafted onto it yet. I probably will in a few weeks.

  • 16 years ago

    I have many 4 year old winter banana that serve as interstems to 3 year old European and Asian pears that have been productive for me.

    Here's where I grafted Winter Banana and used it as Interstem:

    Stock: Bartlett
    Interstem: Winter Banana
    Final Scion: Honeycrisp.

    Stock: Fuji
    Interstem: WB
    Final Scion: Chojuro

    Stock: Fuji
    Interstem: WB
    Final Scion: Warren

    Stock: Fuji
    Interstem: WB
    Final Scion: Harrow's Delight

    Stock: Smyrna Quince
    Interstem: WB
    Final Scion: Shin Li

    Stock: Smyrna Quince
    Interstems: Macoun, then WB
    Final Scion: Ya Li

    Stock: Smyrna Quince
    Interstem: WB
    Final Scion: Honeycrisp

    I have many others... All of the above have been precocious and productive, and it is 1 to 4 years now, depending on time grafted, with no signs of incompatibility yet. But take note that the Asian Pears that I have tried on Quince all died after one season of growth. But using Winter Banana as Interstock, made it possible to add the Asian pears on Quinces. The juvenile scion Asian pears on WB tend to have blooms much sooner than Asian pears grafted to Asian pears.

    The only thing that I haven't tried is grafting WB unto Callery pears. I am not sure if it will work given that the Callery have different ploidy level. But who knows unless someone has reportedly tried them. If no one did, then I might try that one, there are several Callery pears in the nearby park.

  • 16 years ago


    Thanks for mentioning the part about precocity and Winter Banana getting immature Asian pear scions to flower sooner.

    I think I put my Hosui on the Fertility and not on the Winter Banana, but I'll have to double check. I'll have to put some on Winter Banana so I can get some fruit sooner!

  • 16 years ago

    Since WB seems to be a good interstem it would seem that I should be grafting this to my wild apple trees. Are you sucessful in grafting the interstem and the final scion all at one time? I have heard that interstems should be at least 12 inches in length. Would that also be your experience? This sounds like a lot of fun to me and I need to go begging for a bunch of WB interstem material since there are dozens of wild apple trees on the farm. Thanks Jerry
    Anyone out there with dormant WB scions? Trades welcome! e-mail:

  • 16 years ago

    Jerry, haven't done it all at the same time, but have done it one season. I'd wait for the WB to callous over and pushing out then graft to it soonest. My interstems are short though, to prevent it from sprouting, otherwise it would be a maintenance addition, unless you wanted the interstem to branch out and produce fruits as well. At least even if WB doesn't remotely taste like bananas (but similar colors when ripe) in our area, it is not a bad tasting apple either.

    Too bad, I have shipped away many sticks of WB to many people. Those came from my grafting operations this year and have not thrown them away but have saved them and rade or give away. I have no dormant wood left! There is that next year though. I have grafted several WB this winter for the purpose of grafting either pear, apples or quinces. So when I graft next year, I would have plenty of limbs to spare after the grafting operations.

  • 16 years ago

    I think I read that when using an interstem for dwarfing characteristics it was important to use about 12 inches to get the full effect. Obviously on the compatibility issues shorter will work and I can do without added sprouts. Our two areas are worlds apart climate wise but both areas can grow fruit. It is great that grafting can be enjoyed and practiced all over the world. By the way it was your picture tutorial that led to my first successes in grafting. From one side of the USA to the other. Happy grafting!
    Thanks for the offer on the WB. I am sure there are some on this side for this year.

  • 16 years ago

    Awesome info,
    Joe, thanks for posting the combos you have done, that is great. I think I will try using WB on Calleryana next year since that seems to be the rootstock of choice over here. I would also like to try Quince as an interstem on Calleryana to graft compatible scions to. Has anyone tried this?
    The main reason I would want to try WB interstems is to try and acheive dwarfing on pear scions. Here the more vigorous rootstocks seem to be needed for pears but.... if I could use m7 or some other dwarf apple stock then WB then a good scion it would be great.

    BBerry, I have heard that a 12 inch piece is needed to cause dwarfing also. I have heard that they dont sprout very many shoots also as hard as that is to beleive.


  • 16 years ago

    I bought some weird dwarf apples from Stark Bros about 5 years ago. They have interstems that is bigger than the rootstock and the final scion, and it is only 6" long. Ever since, I have been using interstems that are just 6" long. I will try to experiment on using longer interstems and see what happens.

    It is good that you pointed out these.

  • 16 years ago

    Wow, the conversation has grown so fruitful in the time since I last visited.

    Thank you for the further knowledge divulged.

    Another curious question about the existing pears.
    Is there a possibility of grafting scions from a fruiting pear tree onto this Non Fruiting variety?

    Do I still have to go through a WB stage? Or since it is a pear...though non fruiting...can I go right to graft of fruit branch.

    One of them has branches close to my upper deck. I would love to pick pears right from my deck from grafted branches.

    Thank you! Natasha

  • 16 years ago

    There's no harm in trying. Even if it failed, you learned something.

  • 16 years ago

    Callery pear has been and is still used extensively as a fireblight resistant pear rootstock. I have about 25 callery seedlings coming next week to line out for use as rootstocks for fruiting pear varieties. No need for WB if you're putting on pear scions.
    I taught one of my coworkers to graft, and she put several fruiting varieties on the Bradford pear in her back yard, where they survived and fruited for several years before the Bradford self-destructed, as they are wont to do at 10-15 yrs.

  • 16 years ago

    Dragon Fly,
    I'll bet you would do great grafting edible pears to your non fuiting pears. You know for some reason the bradford pears in my area actually seem to live a fairly long life span. There are actually some Calleryana seedlings on abandoned farm sites that are known to be quite old. I wonder if the further west you go the longer they may be apt to live? Perhaps we dont have quite the same disease pressures as there are back east? I don't know but I'll bet you would do great grafting almost any type of pear to your non fruiting pears.

    By the way Joe, what do you think of the Shin Li pear? I think I tried a fruit of that type a few years ago and I think I liked it but I can't remember for sure.


  • 16 years ago

    Shin Li pears are much better than Ya Li, just for my taste buds. Shin Li pear doesn't bruise as easily as Ya Li. You can place Sin Li in cold storage and it will be good to eat for 6 months!

    Now, Shin Li pear didn't do well in my Quinces. But if you graft the rootstock P. betulaefolia unto your Asian Pear, and perhaps over the Callery pears, and then graft Shin Li Pear over P. betulaefolia, you will get vigorous growth.

  • 16 years ago

    Thanks Joe,
    Shin Li sounds great. I'll have to try one.


  • 16 years ago

    What a great thread! I live in Denver, CO (zone 6?) and have no grafting experience but had the same question as Natasha. I have a small yard with two Callery ("Cleveland") flowering pears and was hoping I could graft some fruiting pear or apple. Now I know it can be done but I have lots more questions:

    1. What about pollination? Will they self-pollinate, or do I have to have a few trees close to each other? One of the trees is in the front and the other in the back yard, maybe 25 yards apart. They're connected by line-of-sight but between a narrow (12' ?) gap between our house and our neighbor's.

    1. These trees are just starting to flower. Should I wait until next year?

    3. Can anyone recommend a source for scionwood? I'd also love some recommendations on varieties of fruiting pear and apple. I like the qualities of Honey Crisp and am wondering if any of you masters have other suggestions for similar varieties that would do well in Denver and/or be easy for a novice grafter.


  • 16 years ago

    Just a quick note (I only came here looking for Joe Real's great tutorial as a refresher) - I had the same "problem" - a flowering pear - and my neighbor has a pear tree that produces well every year here in Iowa. It is a sandy looking pear, hard as a rock in the fall, hangs on the tree a long time, then lasts a long time until it ripens. But good, and bug and pest free with zero spraying. I think it is called a Keiffer pear. Anyway, I did a bark graft with it a year or so ago, and now it has its first flower buds already. Ray

  • 15 years ago

    Harvest report: The Kieffer pears were very tasty. And they ripen very late in the year, mid Oct to mid Nov here in Iowa. This is a good time for us - not too many other things ripen that late. And it seems you can pick them any time within a month or two, and let them finish on the counter. Nice firm fruit.

    The original tree was supposed to be a Bradford but did not really act true to type (I think it was a seedling) so I had nothing to lose. I cut it off about 2' high (just above the lowest branches) and bark grafted to a few branches. Most took just fine. At the end of second growing season got the first pears. So with a flowering pear as a base, you at least have a good option with fruiting pears.

  • 15 years ago


    Do you have an updated URL for the Cleft Grafting tutorial? The link listed above is not working any more.

  • 13 years ago

    This is a wonderful thread! Perfect timing too. I just bark-grafted two fruiting pear scions to a big side branch on my Bradford flowering pear tree. This is my experimental phace. If they take well, I will top-work all the big branches on this tree. Now, my experience with the Bradford is very very different to what people described here. This tree is vigorous! It grows like a weed, very healthy, and very very strong. I live in South Houston, and the wall of hurricane IKE passed right above us (we got sustained winds of 100mpg for 8 hours in both directions). That tree didn't lose a SINGLE branch. I have never seen a branch break and that tree has to be about 12 years old (was here when we bought the house). The darn thing puts on a beautiful flower show in early spring, which then dumps right in my pool (also no smell in my flowers). Same process repeats during winter when it drops all of its red leaves in my pool. This is the reazon I pruned it hard back about 4 feet on all branches (still about 14 feet tall). I can't justify a high-maintenance tree which dumps so much garbage on my pool and doesn't produce fruit. This is why I am experimenting with different varieties of fruiting pear trees to retask the entire tree (that or chop it down completly but that seems wasteful). I will report back in a month when the tree breaks dormancy (late Feb) to see how/if the grafts take.

  • 10 years ago

    In the south it is common practice for many of us to go out and buy an inexpensive flowering pear whip and graft our regular pears to it. I am pretty much an amateur, but yet using dormant scion wood and a dormant flowering pear I get good results. For the north gulf coast of mexico (Me northwest Florida near Pensacola) it is a good pear rootstock. When grafted with fruiting pears, Asian, European, or hybrid's there of I get good success.
    I live in a hurricane prone area. My younger trees have not broken so much as being pushed over. Once the graft if done the flowering pear is rootstock at which it does a good job since it penetrates our moist clay soils. Travis Callahan (just goggle on the name and pears) uses flowering pears as rootstock. The local commericial nurseries most often use some form of Pyrus calleryana pear rootstock. I have read that mot all pear cultivars are compatible, but so far I have had good success of ones I have tried. I do not know about apple to P. calleryana. My suggestion if you want apples graft the pear Olton Broussard to your flowering pear. It looks like a green brown apple and sort of tastes like and pear and apple all in one. It ripens on the tree and does not get particularly soft. If is an Asian pear of unknown origin.

  • PRO
    9 years ago

    In the spring of 2012, I attempted to graft a Pear scion onto my apple tree using Winter Banana Apple as an inter stem.
    (All of he grafting i do is "Whip and Tongue" grafts wrapped in grafting tape. I then coat the wrapped union with grafting wax)

    The parent branch was a Winesap Apple branch with a grafted Winter Banana Apple scion from a few years before.
    (I actually have two of these paired branches.)
    I then attempted to graft two "Kieffer" Pear scions onto my two Winter Banana Apple inter stems. The "Kieffer" Pear scions started to grow, but died a few weeks later.

    This spring (2014) I attempted to graft this Apple / Pear union again using the same Winter Banana Apple inter stems. I had just enough branch on my Winter Banana branches to try this experiment one more time. This time around, I used "Sunrise Pear" scionwood.
    The grafting was a screaming success! (I had enough "Sunrise Pear" scionwood to graft two branches onto my apple tree, and two more onto an ornamental pear. All four pear grafts were a success!)

    I have no idea why this experiment failed in 2012 and was a success in 2014. I do not know if it had to do with the pear variety used, or if it had to do with environmental circumstances. I will re-post in 2015 with an update.

    There are a few different treads on this subject so I will be re-posting on those threats also.

    Below are pictures taken on 07/27/2014.

  • PRO
    9 years ago

    Picture #2

  • 9 years ago


    I think it is considered poor form to place identical posts in 5 or more different threads.

    I opened each of them to see what was new.

  • 9 years ago

    I agree with Murky, Kevin. I think one time would have been sufficient.

    But congratulations on your success, and I do hope you provide updates from time to time. I hope your efforts continue to pay off.

  • PRO
    9 years ago

    Hi Murky and marknmt,

    I apologize. My intent was not to be annoying and I get no benefit from the multiple posts. I just assumed each thread would be followed by different people. I just wanted to let everyone know about my success assuming they would click on one of the threads. I wish there was a way all these similar threads could be combined into one general thread concerning this specific subject matter of pear / apple grafts. I had good intentions. Sorry about that guys.

    Thank you marknmt. I will post updates - good or bad to help educate all on this subject matter.

    Does anyone know if the graft works best on Winter Banana? Or did someone happen to graft onto a WB and its now become the popular belief that this apple is the best match for a pear?


  • 9 years ago

    No problem- and please do keep updates coming. I admire your efforts to be thorough and do a complete job and I expect you'll have a lot to share down the road.

    The question about why WB is the accepted choice for the interstem is an excellent one, and I don't know the answer. There are just so many possible combinations that they can't all have been tested. Does anybody know the rationale? - because I'd like to know too. But there is virtually no commercial reason for this to be explored, and no university is going to divert resources to it unless there is an important theoretical question to answered. (Mebbe this is why folk knowledge is so important: it keeps certain questions alive that would otherwise be overlooked and lost.)

    Well, I'm rambling now, so time to get off.

    Best wishes,


  • 9 years ago

    Kevin, I should have added that your broadcast post was clearly very thoughtful and of interest.

    Yes, please let us know what you discover.

  • 8 years ago

    I have a Bartlett pear grafted on a Bradford/Callery rootstock. It produces great pearsin abundance. The rootstock came from a city tree that vandals uprooted when about 4 inches in diameter.