Bud Grafting Tips

Grafting is the process of uniting the lower part of one plant (called the rootstock, or stock) to the upper part of another (called the scion) so they grow as a single plant. Budding is the process of inserting a bud from one plant into an opening in the bark of another to produce true-to-seed plants, and plants with stronger roots so they grow in different climates. There are two main types of bud grafting techniques: T-budding and chip budding.

Clean Tools

Always use a sharp clean knife to create the graft. For best results, dip the knife in a solution of alcohol after washing with soapy water to kill all the germs. A sharp knife also ensures sharp, straight cuts that penetrates the cambium layer (the nutrient-dense tissue under the bark).

Compatibility and Timing

Make sure the rootstock and scion are compatible with one another so the graft is successful. They should belong to the same botanical genus and species, though they can be different varieties. Grafts cannot be formed between plants of different families. While grafting is usually done in late winter or early spring, the best time for a bud graft is in late summer, when the bark slips off easily.

Match Cambium Layers

The key to a successful graft is to match both cambium layers of the stock and scion. This is the nutrient-rich tissue just under the bark. It contains the vascular system of the plant and spreads nourishment throughout. It is imperative to maintain maximum contact between the cambium layers of both the stock and scion so they grow as a single plant, which ensures a successful graft.

Soft Barks

Use T-budding technique for soft or semi-hard barks. Create a vertical 1- to 1 ½-inch long slit in the bark, and a ½-inch long perpendicular slit on top (to form a T). Cut the bud from the donor plant along with an inch of wood above and below it. Open the T-cut on the host plant and insert the bud in it. Cover the union, the point where the two join, with wrapping tape. Make sure you do not cover the bud and stem.

Woody Barks

Select this method of bud grafting for woody barks. Make two cuts each on the stock and scion. Make the first cut downwards, at a 45 to 60-degree angle. The second cut should be ¾-inch higher than the first, but downwards to meet it. Remove the chip and place it in the cavity of the stock. Wrap the entire exposed area well.

Keywords: bud grafting, scion wood, plant rootstock

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