5 Ways to Graft a Tree
Grafting is an essential technique used by gardeners and horticulturists to propagate and preserve valuable plants. In essence, grafting involves attaching a section of a stem from one plant (called the scion) onto another plant (called the rootstock), allowing the two to fuse and grow together. This creates a stronger, healthier, and more productive tree than either parent alone. Here are five popular methods of tree grafting that you can try in your own garden.
1. Whip-and-Tongue Graft
The whip-and-tongue method is widely used due to its relatively high success rate and compatibility with various plant species. This technique requires matching the scion and rootstock diameters as closely as possible, then making matching diagonal cuts on both pieces. Next, make a vertical slit into each cut surface, creating a “tongue” on each piece. Finally, fit the tongues together and secure the graft with grafting tape or rubber bands.
2. Cleft Graft
The cleft graft is often used when the rootstock is much thicker than the scion. Begin by cutting off the top of the rootstock and splitting it down the middle to create a cleft. Prepare your scion by trimming it to have a V-shaped base that will fit snugly into the cleft. Insert the scion into the cleft, aligning its cambium layer (the green layer just beneath the bark) with that of the rootstock. Secure with grafting tape or rubber bands.
3. Budding (T-Bud)
T-budding is a technique frequently used on fruit trees such as peaches and citrus trees. In this method, a single bud from one plant is grafted onto another plant. Carefully cut out a single bud from your desired scion plant, making a “T” cut on the rootstock’s bark and lifting the flaps. Slide the bud under the flaps, ensuring that the cambium layers match up. Wrap the graft in grafting tape, leaving the eye of the bud exposed.
4. Bark Graft
The bark graft is suitable for large-diameter rootstocks with easily detachable bark. Begin by cutting off the top of the rootstock and preparing scions with long, slanting cuts at their bases. Create a vertical slit in the rootstock’s bark and slide your scion underneath it, ensuring contact between their cambium layers. Wrap with grafting tape or a rubber band, securing it tightly while maintaining adequate pressure.
5. Bridge Graft
If your tree trunk is damaged or diseased, bridge grafting can help bypass the damaged area to restore nutrient flow between roots and canopy. Select scions that can span across the damaged part, long enough to attach to healthy portions of bark above and below it. Trim both ends of each scion so that they have wedge-shaped tips and make incisions on healthy parts of the tree trunk equal to the scion’s width. Insert each scion into its respective incision and secure with grafting tape or rubber bands.
The method you choose will depend on factors like plant species, stock sizes, and desired outcomes, but one thing’s for sure – mastering these techniques will take your gardening skills to new heights!