Friday 4 July 2014


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Grafting is the connection of genetic material from one plant to another so that they fuse together and grow to become a single plant.  You can graft a shoot of a plant onto the root stock of another plant in order to create a plant that has the superior qualities of both parent plants. 

The top part of a graft produces the branches, leaves, flowers and fruit and is known as the scion. The lower part produces the root system and the bottom of the trunk and is known as the root stock. The scar where the two are joined is called the union.

For successful grafting to take place the vascular cambium tissues of the scion and root stock must be placed in contact with each other. Joints formed by grafting are not as strong as naturally formed joints as only the newly formed tissues join together.  The existing wood of the stock plant does not fuse, resulting in grafting joins becoming a weak point on the new plant.

Ornamental shrubs and trees are commonly grafted because it is difficult to propagate by other means. It is also favoured commercially as a larger flowering plant can be produced in a shorter period of time. Most plants need to be grafted within their own species but sometimes it is possible to graft within a genus.  A few plants can be successfully grafted onto different species, providing they are within the same family.

How to propagate by grafting 

Grafting of ornamental shrubs is often carried out in early spring before the sap starts to rise, although it can also be done in autumn. Select your scion wood from healthy one to two year old wood and your root stock from seedlings about two years old that are the thickness of a pencil. 

Because you are cutting into the vascular system of each you plant you need to ensure that your knife is sharp and kept well sterilised in order to prevent spreading diseases. It is essential to make straight cuts to ensure that the root stock and scion fit snugly.

With a sharp knife cut the scion wood just above a bud into 15-25 cm lengths.  
Cut the root stock down to 7.5 cm high and make a downward nick about 3 cm below the top.  Make a downward sloping cut from the top of the root stock to meet the first cut, and then remove the slither of wood.

Make a cut along one side of the scion wood the same length as on the root stock.  Make a short angled cut at the base. 

Fit the base of the sion wood into the root stock so that the cambium green layer beneath the bark meet, preferably on both sides of the stem. Wrap the union with grafting tape to hold the union until it fuses. You can place the graft in a  propagator or greenhouse.  Water sparingly but mist the plant regularly until it establishes.  The new graft should start to show growth in about six to eight weeks.

For related articles click onto:
Feeding plants
How do seedless fruits propagate
How to build a cold frame
How to make compost
How to propagate using division
How to propagate by grafting
How to propagate from seed
Plants for free
Preparing a seed bed
Soil structure
Watering plants
Thinning and transplanting
Plants for Autumn
Pruning trees and hedges
Rose pest and diseases
Training fruit trees
What is green manure?
What are rootstocks?

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