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Methods of Grafting

Grafting is a method of asexual propagation that involves the fusion of two different dormant plants together so they eventually grow as one. This is usually done to grow a new variety or to help weak rooted cultivars root well. The part of the plant to be propagated is known as scion and develops into the branches and stem, while the lower part that develops the root system is called rootstock.

Cleft Grafting

Cleft grafting is usually performed in early spring to alter the cultivar of a young tree. To form a cleft graft, select a healthy part of a plant that is free of disease, and cut it off with a pruning saw. Cut a two to four inch deep cleft in the middle of the limb with a chisel or large knife. Try not to split the limb. Pry open the ‘cleft’ or split with the back of the grafting tool and keep it open as you prepare the scion stick.

Select a five-inch long scion with a ¼ to 3/8-inch diameter that grew vigorously last growing season and has four buds on it. Make sloping cuts on the end of the scion stick to match the cleft in the rootstock to promote maximum contact when inserted in the rootstock.

After inserting the scion into the rootstock, cover the union or the point where the two pieces meet with grafting wax to hold them together and encourage them to grow as one.

Whip Grafting

Also called bench or tongue grafting, this type is used for plant species that can unite easily. The scion and rootstock have almost the same diameter. This graft heals soon, ensuring good contact of the two parts.

Make a one to two inch diagonal cut in the rootstock with a sharp knife. Make another cut in the center of the cut through the stock that resembles a ‘tongue’. Repeat the process in the scion as well, so both the pieces are united by inserting the tongue of the scion into the tongue of the stock. Wrap the union with tape or grafting wax.

Bark Grafting

This type of grafting is similar to cleft grafting but only is performed in spring, when the bark slips or separates from the wood easily.

Saw a branch or trunk off for the stock at a right angle to itself. Make sure the scion is at least five inches long and has two or three buds. Make a straight diagonal one to two inch long cut in the base of the scion, and a ½-inch diagonal cut on the other side. Make a cut in the center of the rootstock, a little wider than the scion. Insert the scion through the longer cut in the center of the cut on the rootstock so they form a strong union. If the scion is long, nail them together using small wire nails. Cover the graft with wax.

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