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Grafting

Grafting and Budding Nursery Crop Plants AG-396

Grafting When to Graft Unlike budding, which can be perf ormed bef ore or during the growing season, most graf ting is done during winter and early spring while both scion and rootstock are still dormant. Containerized plants may be moved indoors during the actual graf ting process; af ter graf ting, these plants are placed in protected areas or in unheated overwintering houses. Field-grown stock, of course, must be graf ted in place. Some deciduous trees are commonly graf ted as bare rootstock during the winter and stored until spring planting. Indoor winter graf ting is of ten ref erred to as bench graf ting because it is accomplished at a bench. Selecting and Handling Scion Wood T he best quality scion wood usually comes f rom shoots grown the previous season. Scions should be severed with sharp, clean shears or knives and placed immediately in moistened burlap or plastic bags. It is good practice during the harvesting of scions and the making of graf ts to clean the cutting tools regularly. T his may be done by f laming or immersing them in a sterilizing solution. Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol also works well as a sterilant, although it evaporates quite readily. An alternative sterilizing solution may be prepared by mixing one part household bleach with nine parts water (by volume). However, this bleach solution can be highly corrosive to certain metals. For best results, harvest only as much scion wood as can be used f or graf ting during the same day. Select only healthy scion wood that is f ree f rom insect, disease, or winter damage. Be sure the stock plants are of good quality, healthy, and true to type. Scion wood that is f rozen at harvest of ten knits more slowly and in lower percentage. If large quantities of scion wood must be harvested at one time, f ollow these steps: Cut all scions to a unif orm length, keep their basal ends together, and tie them in bundles of known quantity (f or example, 50 scions per bundle). Label them, recording the cultivar, date of harvest, and location of the stock plant. Wrap the base of the bundles in moistened burlap or sphagnum, place them in polyethylene or

clef t graf ting (Figure 2). Cleft Graft One of the simplest and most popular f orms of graf ting. Keep the scions f rom f reezing during storage. Stored f ruits and vegetables release ethylene gas. . Types of Grafts Nurserymen can choose f rom a number of dif f erent types of graf ts. which can cause woody plant buds to abort. Clef t graf ting is also used to propagate varieties of camellias that are dif f icult to root. as well as budding. T his type of graf ting is usually done during the winter and early spring while both scion and rootstock are still dormant. Scions that are between 6 and 8 inches long are usually the easiest to use. either iced down in insulated coolers or in a commercial storage unit at 32o to 34o F. T his vascular cambium initiates callus tissue at the graf t and bud unions in addition to stimulating tissue growth on the basal ends of many vegetative cuttings bef ore they have rooted. if necessary. and seal the bags. Store the bundles f or short periods. Clef t graf ting may be perf ormed on main stems or on lateral or scaf f old branches. NOT E: In graf ting. cherries. the vascular cambium of the scion or bud must be aligned with the vascular cambium of rootstock. In woody plants the cambium is a very thin ribbon of actively dividing cells located just below the bark. Figure 1. making the scions useless.waterproof paper bags. straight. and long enough to have at least three buds. Never store scions in ref rigerated units where f ruits or vegetables are currently kept or have been stored recently. T his section describes only those basic types of graf ts used on nursery crop plants. is a method f or top working both f lowering and f ruiting trees (apples. T he cambium produces conductive tissue f or the actively growing plant (Figure 1). Cross section of a woody plant stem. pears. T he rootstock used f or clef t graf ting should range f rom 1 to 4 inches in diameter and should be straight grained. and peaches) in order to change varieties. T he scion should be about 1/4 inch in diameter.

Pressure f rom the rootstock will hold the scions in place. If both scions in the clef t "take. Preparing the Rootstock. T he rootstock is severed with a sharp saw.Figure 2. In contrast to clef t graf ting. Insert a scion on each end of the clef t. Remove the clef ting tool f rom the clef t so that the rootstock can close. Select scions that have three or f our good buds. In clef t graf ting. Using a clef ting tool wedge and a mallet. Af ter the f irst growing season. smooth cut perpendicular to the main axis of the stem to be graf ted. with the wider side of the wedge f acing outward. one scion is usually inserted at each end of the clef t. Remove the clef ting tool wedge and drive the pick end of the tool into the center of the newly made clef t so that the stock can be held open while inserting the scion. . Cut the side with the lowest bud slightly thicker than the opposite side. Inserting the Scion. NOT E: T he temperature of graf ting wax is critical. leaving a clean cut as with clef t graf ting. paint-like sealants have replaced wax in many areas because they are easier to use and require no heating." one will usually grow more rapidly than the other. Be sure the basal end of the scion gradually tapers of f along both sides. Preparing the Scion. Recently. Securing the Graft. It must be hot enough to f low but not so hot as to kill plant tissue. T horoughly seal all cut surf aces with graf ting wax or graf ting paint to keep out water and prevent drying. Using a sharp. T he stock should be sawed of f with a clean. Cleft graft. make a split or "clef t" through the center of the stock and down 2 to 3 inches. The cambium of each scion should contact the cambium of the rootstock. clean graf ting knif e. so prepare two scions f or each graf t. start near the base of the lowest bud and make two opposing smooth-tapered cuts 1 to 2 inches long toward the basal end of the scion. this technique can be applied to rootstock of larger diameter (4 to 12 inches) and is done during early spring when the bark slips easily f rom the wood but bef ore major sap f low. Bark Graft Bark graf ting (Figure 3) is used primarily to top work f lowering and f ruiting trees. choose the stronger scion and prune out the weaker.

Side-veneer graf ting is usually done on potted rootstock. Side-Veneer Graft At one time the side-veneer graf t (Figure 4) was a popular technique f or graf ting varieties of camellias and rhododendrons that are dif f icult to root. Seal all exposed surf aces with graf ting wax or graf ting paint. Securing the Graft. leave only the most vigorous one on each stub. Cut the base of each scion to a 1 ½. Preparing the Stock. Push the scion f irmly down into place behind the f lap of bark.Figure 3. it is the most popular way to graf t conif ers. Bark graf ts tend to f orm weak unions and theref ore usually require staking or support during the f irst f ew years. Loosen the bark slightly and insert the scion so that the wedge-shaped tapered surf ace of the scion is against the exposed wood under the f lap of bark. Bark graft. replace the bark f lap. prune out all the others. Once the scions have begun to grow. Preparing the Scion. Inserting the Scion. Insert a scion every 3 to 4 inches around the cut perimeter of the rootstock. especially those having a compact or dwarf f orm. and nail the scion in place by driving one or two wire brads through the bark and scion into the rootstock.to 2-inch tapered wedge on one side only. Currently. Start at the cut surf ace of the rootstock and make a vertical slit through the bark where each scion can be inserted (2 inches long and spaced 1 inch apart). Since multiple scions are usually inserted around the cut surf ace of the rootstock. . prepare several scions f or each graf t.

T his simple method is usually applied to herbaceous materials that callus or "knit" easily. Make a sloping cut 3/4 to 1 inch long at the base of the scion. or graf ting twine. tape. Make a shallow downward cut about 3/4 inch to 1 inch long at the base of the stem on the potted rootstock to expose a f lap of bark with some wood still attached. Securing the Graft.) Inserting the Scion. both the stock and scion must be of the same diameter. Splice Graft Splice graf ting (Figure 5) is used to join a scion onto the stem of a rootstock or onto an intact rootpiece. Preparing the Scion. . Rootstock is grown in pots the season bef ore graf ting. and then stored as with other container nursery stock. Seal the entire graf t area with warm graf ting wax or graf ting paint. Never allow the binding material to girdle the stem. Side veneer graft Preparing the Stock. Make an inward cut at the base so that the f lap of bark and wood can be removed f rom the rootstock. Af ter exposure to cold weather f or at least six weeks. Choose a scion with a diameter the same as or slightly smaller than the rootstock. Insert the cut surf ace of the scion against the cut surf ace of the rootstock. Be certain that the cambia contact each other. the rootstock is brought into a cool greenhouse f or a f ew days bef ore graf ting takes place to encourage renewed root growth. (Use the bark graf ting technique shown in Figure 3. Remove the rubber or twine shortly af ter the union has healed. allowed to go dormant. In splice graf ting. Hold the scion in place using a rubber graf ting strip.Figure 4. or it is used on plants with a stem diameter of 1/2 inch or less. T he plant should not be watered at this time.

Whip and Tongue Graft T he whip and tongue technique (Figure 6) is most commonly used to graf t nursery crops or woody ornamentals. Securing the Graft.Cut of f the rootstock using a diagonal cut 3/4 to 1 inch long. Fit the scion to the stock. Both the rootstock and scion should be of equal size and pref erably no more than 1/2 inch in diameter. . Over watering may cause sap to "drown" the scion.Figure 5. T his leaves both hands f ree to wrap the joint. T hese cuts should be made with a single draw of the knif e and should have a smooth surf ace so that the two can develop a good graf t union. Preparing the Stock and Scion. Make the same type of cut at the base of the scion. Wrap this junction securely with a rubber graf ting strip or twine. make similar cuts on both the stock and scion. Water rootstock sparingly until the graf t knits. Up to this point. T he technique is similar to splice graf ting except that the whip on the rootstock holds the tongue of the scion in place (and vice versa). rootstock and scion are cut the same as f or a splice graf t. Splice graft. For the whip and tongue graf t. Be sure to remove the twine or strip as soon as the graf t has healed. Seal the junction with graf ting wax or graf ting paint. Inserting the Scion.

T he stock may be either f ield-grown or potted. Fit the scion into the rootstock so that they interlock whip and tongue. place the blade of the knif e across the cut end of the stock. half way between the bark and pith (on the upper part of the cut surf ace). For best results. Saddle graft. Whip and tongue graft. Saddle Graft Saddle graf ting (Figure 7) is a relatively easy technique to learn and once mastered can be perf ormed quite rapidly. use saddle graf ting on dormant stock in mid. and seal it with graf ting wax or graf ting paint. Stop at the base of the initial diagonal cut. Wrap the junction with a graf ting strip or twine. This second cut must not follow the grain of the wood but should run parallel to the first cut. Prepare the scion in the same way. Next. Figure 7. Make the same kind of cut at the base of the scion. Inserting the Scion.Figure 6. Be certain that the cambia are aligned. Stock should not be more than 1 inch in diameter. Both rootstock and scion should be the same diameter. Securing the Graft. Cut of f the stock using a diagonal cut. Never allow the binding material to girdle the stem.to late winter. Use a single knif e stroke to draw the blade down at an angle through the wood and pith. T he cut should be f our to f ive times longer than the diameter of the stock to be graf ted. . Preparing the Stock and Scion.

however. Bridge graf ts are usually done in early spring just bef ore active plant growth begins. Inserting the Scion. T he bridge graf t provides support as well as a pipeline that allows water and nutrients to move across the damaged area.Preparing the Stock. Using two opposing upward strokes of the graf ting knif e. Two common techniques available f or this purpose are bridge graf ting and inarch graf ting. insert and secure the scion below the injury. push the scion under the f lap with the cut portion of the scion against the wood of the injured stem or trunk. First. then seal it with graf ting wax or graf ting paint. Wrap the graf t with a graf ting twine.to 2-inch-long tapered cut on the same plane at each end of the scion. tape. Securing the Graft. Remove any damaged tissue so the graf t is on healthy stems. otherwise adjust as needed. Preparing the Scion. Push the scion f irmly into place. T he resulting cut should resemble an inverted V. T hey may be perf ormed any time the bark on the injured plant "slips. Gently f old the f lap away f rom the stock. T hese cuts on the rootstock and scion must be the same length and have the same slope so that a maximum amount of cambial tissue will make contact when the two halves are joined. Now reverse the technique to prepare the base of the scion. usually at or near the base of the trunk. Pull the f lap . Select scions that are straight and about twice as long as the damaged area to be bridged. Bridge Graft Bridge graf ting (Figure 8) is used to "bridge" a diseased or damaged area of a plant. All of the preceding techniques are used to top work horticultural crops f or a particular purpose. or disease organisms. Such damage commonly results f rom contact with grading or lawn maintenance equipment. Place the V-notched scion onto the saddle of the rootstock. sever the top f rom the rootstock. If rootstock and scion are the same diameter. T hen go back and insert and secure the scion above the injury f ollowing these same steps. Bridge graft. cold temperatures. or strip. Occasionally. graf ting is used to repair injured or diseased plants. Inserting the Scion. Preparing the Scion. with the surf ace of the cuts ranging f rom 1/2 to 1 inch long." Figure 8. Preparing the Stock. cambial alignment is easier. being caref ul not to tear the bark f lap. or it may be caused by rodents. Cut a f lap in the bark on the rootstock the same width as the scion and below the injury to be repaired. Make a 1 1/2.

With the inarching technique. When graf ting with young stems that may waver in the wind. the tip of the scion is graf ted in above the injury using the same method as f or bark or bridge graf ting. T he scion may also be a shoot of the same species as the injured plant growing on its own root system next to the main trunk of the damaged tree. Secure all graf t areas with warm graf ting wax or graf ting paint. During and af ter the healing period. insert the scions so that they bow outward slightly. is used to bypass or support a damaged or weakened area of a plant stem (Figure 9). Securing the Graft. Unlike bridge graf ting. Inarch Graft Inarching. . sucker. the scion can be an existing shoot. Inarch graft. like bridge graf ting.over the scion and tack it into place as described f or bark graf ting (Figure 3). remove any buds or shoots that develop on the scions. Bridge graf ts should be spaced about 3 to 4 inches apart across the damaged area. Figure 9. or watersprout that is already growing below and extending above the injury.