How to Graft Plants

Overview

Grafting is the process of surgically attaching two plants so they can grow as a single plant. The reasons for grafting plants are numerous: to reduce the time it takes to produce fruit or flowers, to control the height or shape of a tree or to create a dwarf species, to achieve certain plant characteristics or to select a root system that can adapt to specific environmental conditions. The top part of the grafted planted is called the scion, while the lower part is known as the rootstock or stock.

Step 1

Clean your knife thoroughly with soapy water and sterilize it in alcohol.

Step 2

Cut a small part off the host plant that has three or four buds, which will eventually develop into stems. Make a sharp, straight but diagonal cut near the central trunk. Try to keep the scion the same length as the plant you want to graft it on.

Step 3

Immediately place the scion in a container with water at room temperature or into the refrigerator to prevent it from drying while you cut the rootstock. Keeping it in the refrigerator will trick the scion into thinking it is winter and help it to go dormant.

Step 4

Make a sharp diagonal cut that will penetrate through the outer layers and the inner tissue of the host plant's rootstock. Avoid a jagged cut--it will not fuse with the scion.

Step 5

Remove the scion from the water or the refrigerator.

Step 6

Attach the scion firmly to the rootstock so they are as close as possible. The area directly under the bark, also known as cambium area, must be aligned and touching for the graft to be successful. Match the cambium area of at least one side if the scion and rootstock are of varying sizes. This point at which both the pieces join is known as the graft union or union.

Step 7

Tightly wrap the union with grafting tape, rubber budding tape or electrical tape, starting on the stock and extending it to the scion.

Step 8

Remove the tape as soon as the scion begins to grow. The plant will fuse and begin sprouting in six months, with the scion producing stems, leaves and flowers and the rootstock developing the root system of the plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife
  • Alcohol
  • Container
  • Tape

References

  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
  • Old Garden Roses and Beyond: Grafting Basics
  • Arizona Cooperative Extension
Keywords: graft plants, grafting plants, plant grafting

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