Chieftain apple tree and bilberry bush

Asked April 7, 2014, 6:37 PM EDT

I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to buy a couple of Chieftain apple trees for 3-years. Do you have any idea where/who may have these in stock? Also, I would like to buy a bilberry bush and have only found them on line from China; I prefer to buy as local as possible. Can you help me out with this?

Warren County Iowa

4 Responses

Sadly, nurseries have stopped producing and selling Chieftain apple trees because of low demand. At the present time, I do not know of any nursery that is currently selling Chieftain apple trees.

Unfortunately, I do not know of any source of bilberry plants in the United States.

Thank you for your reply. Sad is correct! I have access to a friend's Chieftain tree, isit possible to start a tree from the seeds? If not, what is the pprocess for starting a new tree?

Seed propagation isn't a viable option. Seeds from a Chieftain apple tree would not produce Chieftain apple trees. The seedling trees would be genetically different from their parent.

Apple trees are usually propagated by grafting. Grafted apple trees produce fruit that are identical to their parent. Grafting is the joining together of two plant parts (scion and stock) in such a way that they unite and become one plant. When grafting fruit trees, the scion is a portion of a twig taken from the desired tree or variety. It comprises the upper portion of the graft and develops into the fruit producing branches of the new tree. The stock (rootstock) is the lower portion of the graft. The stock becomes the root system of the grafted plant.

Whip and tongue grafting is a relatively easy way to propagate an apple tree. This type of graft is made when the stock and scion are dormant. The stock and scion should be the same diameter, preferably between 1/4 and ½ inch. Scion material should be collected when fully dormant (February or early March) from the previous year’s growth. If possible, collect the scion wood when the temperature is above freezing. Place the scion wood in a plastic bag containing moist sphagnum moss or sawdust. Store the scions in the refrigerator until it’s time for grafting. Rootstock material can be obtained from a small number of mail-order nurseries. Both standard and dwarfing rootstocks are available.

The first step in whip and tongue grafting is to make a smooth diagonal cut through the stock 1 to 2 inches long. Use a sharp knife to insure a smooth, even cut. Starting about 1/3 of the way down from the pointed end, make a second downward cut into the stock to form a tongue. The second cut should be ½ to 1 inch long, slanted toward the base of the first cut. Using the middle portion of the scion wood, prepare the scion in the same manner as the stock. The stock and scion are then slipped together, the tongues interlocking. Next, wrap the stock and scion firmly together with grafting tape or ½ inch wide masking tape. Cut the scion off about 3 to 4 inches above the graft. There should be 2 or 3 buds on the remaining portion of the scion wood. Finally, cover the graft union area and cut end (top) of the scion with grafting wax or similar material.

If whip and tongue grafting is done in early March when the ground is still frozen, place the grafted trees in a plastic bag containing moist sphagnum moss and leave them at room temperature for 7 to 10 days. Then place them in the refrigerator until the trees can be planted outdoors. Trees grafted after the soil has become workable can be planted outdoors immediately. Home gardeners may want to grow the small grafted trees in the garden for 1 or 2 years before transplanting them to their permanent site.

Thanks, you've been most helpful!