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parafilm question

Posted by luke_oh zone 5 NE Ohio (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 21, 12 at 17:37

I'm planning to chip bud some apple trees later this summer and was doing a little practice using parafilm. This will be my first go at grafting or budding. I was having some difficulty using the parafilm. It was difficult to seal or stick to itself. Little to no cohesive property. Just not what I expected. Is this normal and any tricks to using parafilm? Thanks Luke

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: parafilm question

  • Posted by murky z8f pnw Portlan (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 21, 12 at 18:01

Assuming your parafilm is clean I find the key to using it is to make sure that it is stretched a decent amount (keep it under tension while wrapping and let it elongate maybe 20% or so) and overlap windings.

Practice wrapping some at let it stretch so tight that it breaks the tape so you know the limits of how far it can stretch. Then wrap with as much tension as you can without breaking it.

I think it is really only supposed to stick to itself, not to the wood. Also squeeze/rub it with warm hands especially at the end of the wrap, to get the layers to bond to each other.

Avoid putting too much strain or stress on the buds themselves or the graft union.

RE: parafilm question

murky has it right, must be stretched and wrapped under tension, clean and dry. But back off the tesion a little at the end before cutting to avoid "spring back"unwinding.

RE: parafilm question

You could have a bad roll a year or so back my 1st Parafilm would not stretch or adhere to itself. I posted here about it but can't find the post anymore. I replaced it and there was a world of difference, so I don't know if it aged, or a bad batch or what. Both the bad and the replacement were the 1 inch 90 foot? Rolls marketed for grafting and not the medical products so I was comparing apples to apples.

RE: parafilm question

  • Posted by luke_oh zone 5 NE Ohio (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 21, 12 at 20:59

Is there a difference between Parafilm for grafting and Parafilm for medical applications? Does Parafilm have a shelf life? I did find out that it sticks together better when I warmed it with my fingers.

RE: parafilm question

We talked about this a few days ago and Lucky, who is a vet and teaches in a university, said that he's always had access to medical Parafilm and that it is indeed different. It's also clear from that discussion that Parafilm has a fairly limited shelflife.

There was also a discussion here a year or so ago about some quality control issues at the manufacturing level; apparently those have been resolved, but you may have gotten into some backstock or such that just ain't up to par.

I will say that the stuff I've bought has worked just great when new, but that now that I've had it a while it is less cooperative.

In my experience good Parafilm has a neat combination of qualities: it is stretchy, waxy, sticky, and easy to handle. (Wonder what it would be like if they coated a budding rubber with Parafilm, or if they could impregnate the parafilm with longitudinally oriented rubber fibers ... )

I can see how one could substitute Glad Cling wrap pretty well but I think I'd much rather use Parafilm.

Just thoughts,


RE: parafilm question

People always forget to mention that Parafilm expands with the plants growth and allows the plant to breath. Medical or scientific grade does not allow for the breathing and Im unsure if it stretches with the new growth or not. Cling wrap will not allow for air flow.

For the price and proven track record I would rather stick with and use regular old garden grade Parafilm.

RE: parafilm question

Good points, Blaze.

RE: parafilm question

  • Posted by luke_oh zone 5 NE Ohio (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 22, 12 at 10:14

Thanks, I appreciate the information. I purchased from Ebay, I think. I'm going to replace this with a new roll, This stuff just doesn't feel right. Where can I find the grafting version? Thanks, Luke

RE: parafilm question

I'll reiterate my experiences, as recounted from the previous thread Mark referred to.
I've been grafting for 20 years now, started with apples & pears, progressed to persimmons, oaks, pecans/hickories/walnuts.
My mentors all used the plain old medical/laboratory-grade Parafilm M - and that's what I've 'grown up' using; I'm comfortable with it, know how it handles, and know how the grafts do with it. To my knowledge, there was no 'grafting' Parafilm formulation when I started out.

Had occasion, this spring, while conducting a hands-on grafting demonstration with local Extension Master Gardeners class, to play around with some of the Parafilm Grafting tape, provided by the UofKY Extension fruit specialists.
I found the 'grafting' formulation to be less stretchy, less sealing/conforming, and altogether a less user-friendly product - but, it could just be that it was so different from the familiar old Parafilm 'M', that I've been using for decades.
*I* won't be purchasing any Parafilm Grafting tape - I'll stick with the good ol' Parafilm M; I use the 2"x250' roll(cost~$20) - cut into 6" lengths, which are then split into 3 2/3" strips - a roll usually lasts me 2-3 years. Manufacturer's documentation indicates typical shelf life of 3 years at room temperature ranges and 50% humidity.

I came across several decades-old rolls of the 20"x50' Parafilm M while cleaning out a storage closet several years ago. Still usable, but it breaks more easily when stretched than 'in-date' Parafilm. So...for routine use, I'll keep using a 'new' roll of Parafilm M rather than the stuff that's older than my kids. 'Free' isn't worth the hassle.

But, I was glad I had the big, wide roll on hand just this past weekend, when my wife backed a trailer into one of the young bur oaks in my yard, mangling and knocking a 6x12" chunk of bark loose - I replaced it, as best I could, within just a few minutes, wrapped a piece of 20" wide Parafilm around the trunk to help seal in moisture, and overwrapped, tightly, with Gorilla tape; then covered that with a layer of aluminum foil to reflect sunlight away(the damage is on the west side of the trunk). No guarantee that there won't be a huge defect for the tree to heal over, but if at least some islands of bark re-attach, there'll be less delay in closing the wound. We'll see what it looks like next spring, when I pull the dressing off.

RE: parafilm question

You might try contacting the manufacturer, the other thread that I believe Mark was referencing regarding issues was one is here In there I reported a similar issue.
Parafilm is part of with Bemis Flexible Packaging and if you go to it will give you a customer support contact. I had purchased a whole box of 6 rolls and was told they did have some formulation issues in some batches. But I am thinking maybe mine was just old stock when purchased. I put up a UTUBE to show them my issue and they replaced for me. I linked that in the thread.

Here is a link that might be useful: Similar issue

RE: parafilm question

  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 22, 12 at 23:01

I don't do a tremendous amount of grafting, but I do some every year. I've used everything from vinyl electrical tape to masking tape, with and without plastic wrap. I've found spring grafted apples don't care what materials you use, but I've had difficulty budding peaches in the past. Last summer I purchased some 2" parafilm M for the first time. Last summer my peach graft percentage "takes" went up to 90%. I'm fairly certain it was the parafilm M. It seems to "breathe" just the right amount. Doesn't leave the graft soggy, but doesn't let it dry out either. I wrap it two layers thick. Under the parafilm I use rubber electrical tape (rubber not vinyl).

I've been storing the parafilm in the deep freeze because I'd heard about the shelf-life issues. I find a lot of things last a lot longer in the freezer, certain glues and adhesives especially.

I used some parafilm just today to bud some peaches and apricots.

RE: parafilm question

Lucky, you've inspired me to seek out and try the 2" M Parafilm--thanks. I have in the past only used the 1" grafting version.

Luke, I would suggest you try a couple of different materials. For summer bud grafting with apples, which are very forgiving, I have had great luck with both Parafilm and simple polyethylene cut from storage bags--from "Glad" type bags....not Ziplock. I don't have the years of experience that Lucky has, but I find that for very small stock, the polyethylene may be easier to work with than Parafilm. You will find it softer and more flexible. Cut it into 1" strips--it's really inexpensive this way. Wrap the bud and tie with a simple knot. Remove after several weeks, or even during the winter. If you use Parafilm for small stock--pencil size or smaller--you may find it just too stiff unless you really pre-stretch it. Get plenty of practice in with pruned twigs. Good luck and let us know how you do.


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