When I inspected the apple grafts in spring I was excited to see them all starting to leaf out. Lacking any grafting experience, I took this as a sign of unmitigated success. Sadly, a later inspection in summer disabused me of that notion: they all looked dry and dead. Certainly my technique was sub-optimal, using only tape and no grafting compound. An air-tight seal seems to be critical in preventing the graft from drying up before it has established connection to the host tree’s vascular system.
However, I’m pleased to report that the experiment wasn’t a complete failure after all. To my delight, I found that 4 of the grafts had survived. They had not really put on any growth; but they had mature leaves and were looking healthy. 2 of the survivors were tip grafts, 2 were cleft grafts. Tip grafts seem to be more successful: only 1 of those failed, compared to 3 failed cleft grafts.
It’ll be interesting to see how they do next year, now that they’re established. I definitely plan to do some more grafting next year.