Introduction: Simple Grafting Without Special Tools
Grafting is a horticultural technique where plants are joined together. The upper part of the combined plant is called the scion and it is typically chose for its fruits quality, while the lower part is called the rootstock.
There are many available techniques but here I describe one of the simplest and without the need of any special tool.
To have an almost 100% of success, you have to respect the following rules:
1) Cut branches from which you will get the scions at the end of the dormant season, i.e. when the buds begin to move but are still fully closed.
2) The scion must be young – one years old – and must have buds
3) Put the branch in a cold and humid place, such as a cellar. You can wrap them in wet newspaper paper and left, for instance, in the refrigerator vegetable drawer.
4) After few weeks (two or three typically), when the buds of the rootstock begins to open, is the best moment to do the grafting.
Step 1: Choose the Rootstock
5) Choose a suitable rootstock and scion with the same diameter.
6) Cut the rootstock with an hand pruner
Step 2: Choose and Cut the Scion
7) Choose a brunch with the same diameter of the rootstock. Cut a piece with three buds.
8) With a razor sharp knife, cut a wedge shape tip in the scion, as shown in the pictures. I think that the best is to simply use a cutter. Do not ruin the bark. It is also important to use a clean blade!
Step 3: Insert the Scion
9) Crack in two identical part the extremity of the rootstock, as shown in the picture.
10) Insert the scion in the crack. Do not ruin the bark while doing this operation.
Step 4: Make a Perfect Junction
11) The sides of the bark of the two pieces should be in strict contact, without gaps in between. If you have some hole, as shown in the first picture in this step, remove the scion and correct the tip. Take your time to do this part, the larger is the contact surface of the barks, the highest is the success.
Step 5: Cover the Junction With a Plastic Tape
12) Once the two parts are perfectly joined, you have to cover them to avoid that the cuts become dry. In the market many kind of mastic are available, but I had the best results just by using an unexpansive stripe of dark plastic, such as the one shown in the picture, which I cut from a used plastic bag. This tape must be clean, to avoid infections in the exposed plant cortex.
13) Wrap tightly the plastic tape around the junction, as shown in the pictures. It is fundamental to cover all the cut parts.
14) Now you have to wait until the parts joins perfectly. This may take few months. You should see already after few weeks the scion buds to sprout, but you need to wait a bit more before removing the tape.
Step 6: Results
15) The results, after one year or more, are shown in these latest pictures.
If you have followed step by step all the previous steps and rules, the chance that the grafting succeed is very high.
A final comment that should be obvious: of course the two parts of the graft must be of the same kind. From the genetic point of view, the closer, the better.
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Step 7: Bonus
...what can you do with your grafted tree when you decide to cut it? I have kept some pieces around the junction, split them in two half and smoothed the surface. In the pictures in this step, you can see the different wood color of the two tree variety, and the V shape of the junction in the center of the block.
You can use them as books end or simply to show and surprise your friends!