Plant Grafting Methods

Grafting is a means of plant propagation without the use of seeds. The upper part of the grafted plant is the scion, while the lower portion is the rootstock or simply stock. While some grafting methods join scion and stock of similar sizes, others join one or two smaller scions to a larger stock. The main emphasis is on maximum cambium contact between both pieces.

Whip Graft

Whip grafting is used for stock and scion with same diameter, usually between 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Also called tongue or bench grafting, use this method for plants that unite well and heal easily due to maximum cambium contact between exposed surfaces. Make a 1 to 2-1/2 inch long sloping cut on the stock. To form the "tongue" hold the stock so the cut faces you and make a 1/2 inch long cut downward, 1/3 of the way below the tip. Make two identical cuts on the scion but position them towards the lower edge. Insert the tongue of one piece into the tongue of the other piece and cover with grafting tape until it heals.

Cleft Graft

Cleft grafting unites a smaller scion to a larger stock. Use this method on young plants and mature trees to change the variety from one to another. Select a healthy, disease-free part of a plant for the stock. Saw the branches carefully to provide a stock without damaging the bark. Tap a heavy knife or grafting tool through the middle of the limb with a mallet to form a 2 inch deep cleft through the center. Work carefully so you do not split the limb. Pry the cleft open with a chisel. Keep it inside as you prepare the scion. Select a 1-year-old healthy scion wood with 1/4-inch diameter that has three buds on it. Position the knife below the buds ad make 1 to 1-1/2 inch long sloping cuts towards the base of the scion. Insert two scions, one at each end of the cleft and remove the chisel. Cover all exposed surfaces with grafting wax.

Bark Graft

Bark grafting joins smaller scions to larger rootstocks. Perform this graft on branches between 1 to several inches wide. The best time for this method of grafting is early spring when the bark separates from the wood of the plant easily. Collect dormant 4 to 5 inch long scion wood in the winter and refrigerate until spring. Make a diagonal 1-1/2- to 2-inch cut from the base of the scion inwards to 1/3 of the way, then downward to form a shoulder. On the opposite side, make a smaller cut that assists in the insertion. Saw a branch off for the stock and make a 3/4 inch long slit in the bark. Carefully lift the bark at the tip of the slit and push the scion under it until the shoulder sits on the stub. Tightly wrap the area with grafting or electrical tape.

Keywords: grafting methods, plant grafting methods, methods of grafting

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