Grafting is a process to merge one part of a plant, the scion, to another closely related species, the rootstock. The rootstock provides the strength, whereas, the scion is the part that produces beautiful fruit and flowers. Grafting the two together provides the vitality, sap flow and extra disease resistant qualities needed to give high yields. Almost all fruit trees including citrus, we sell to the home gardener are grafted.
There are many different styles of grafting, but the basic principle remains the same. The scion is grafted to the rootstock by connecting cambrium layers (which lie just below the bark) and secured by grafting tape. If the two sections are compatible they will eventually heal together and the scion will begin to grow.
How to Guide
1) Split the rootstock so that it is ready to insert the scion, this split should measure around 3-4cm. Use a clean knife, or a chisel with a hammer. Make sure your tool for cutting is cleaned first by dipping in a dilution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.
2) Prepare the scion by turning it into a wedge, you do this by slicing off both sides of the wood with a grafting knife. Keep both sides of this wedge moist as you work.
3) Push the trimmed scion into the rootstock split until it can go no further, and so no cut wound is visible above the rootstock.
4) Use grafting tape to wrap around the rootstock and the scion; this is waterproof and airtight and stops the new graft site from drying out.
5) One year later remove the grafting tape; the graft should show early signs of merging between the scion and the rootstock.
6) Two years later the joining should all be finished and exposed wood should all be closed off, this process continues as the tree continues to grow and the two trees are completely united.
Rootstock – can be grown from apple pips, or an existing tree which is growing well but does not fruit.
Scion – don’t let it dry out, keep a glass of water handy to leave it in. Also check that your scion has two buds facing upwards, otherwise where would it grow from?
A lot of specimen trees are grafted too, magnolias, flowering cherries and maples are among some of the most popular.
For a picture guide on how to graft, visit us online at www.oderings.co.nz. Oderings also stock the grafting knives and tape online or in store.