Grafting is a means of propagating plants, trees or shrubs without the use of seeds. It is the process of joining two different plants so they unite and grow as one. Horticulturists graft plants for a variety of reasons: to produce true-to-type fruit trees, grow stronger roots or to develop a new plant altogether. Grafting is a difficult process that requires patience and a steady hand, and it may take several attempts before proper execution. With a little planning and care, the grafted plant will grow into a healthy tree or shrub.
Make a sharp, diagonal cut with a clean knife to separate a 5- to 8-inch long healthy, disease-free twig from a tree that is at least 1 year old. Make sure the twig has two to three buds on it that will develop into leaves and make food. This is the "scion" or the upper part of the grafted plant that bears leaves, flowers or fruit. Collect several scion woods to allow for any damage. The ideal time to collect scion wood is in winter, when the tree is dormant.
Add moist sphagnum moss or saw dust to a plastic or zipper bag and place the scion wood over it. Knot or tie the bag and refrigerate until spring, when you will graft it on the rootstock that forms the lower part of the plant. Make sure the moss remains moist at all times, misting it whenever necessary.
Make a straight cut on the rootstock, similar to the one on the scion, with a clean knife. It is imperative that both cuts match in size so the scion and rootstock fuse and grow as one plant.
Match and press the cut on the scion with the cut on the rootstock so the cambium tissues of both woods (the nutrient-dense layer under the bark) touch. If the rootstock and scions differ in diameter, try to match the cambium tissue on one side. This point where both meet is called the "union."
WInd grafting tape or rubber budding over the union to protect it and encourage both parts to unite and form a single plant. Substitute with grafting wax if tape is not available. Remove the tape or wax with a sharp knife if it does not decay naturally a month after the scion begins to grow.