you ever seen an apple tree with bright-red
Jonathan apples on one limb, Golden Delicious
apples on another, and dark-red Winesaps on a
third and wondered how that could be? The answer
is actually quite simple -- grafting.
Grafting means joining parts of
two or more plants together so that they grow to
be one plant. Grafting sometimes occurs naturally
when two plants come in contact, but it is a
common practice in orchards and other growing
operations. A grower joins a cutting from one
plant to a root, or to a stem bearing roots, of
another plant. The part implanted is called the cion.
The plant receiving the cion is the stock.
The cion retains the characteristics of the plant
from which it is taken. The stock supplies food
and water for the growing plant.
Apple trees are not the only
plants that can be grafted. All fruit trees can
be grafted, as can grapevines, rosebushes, lilac
bushes, and most other plants with woody stems.
Many soft-wooded plants can also be grafted,
including the tomato and potato. Dahlias,
peonies, cacti, and various other soft-wooden
flowers may be grafted each within its kind. Only
closely related plants can be grafted, however.
Reasons for Grafting
Fruit trees grown from seeds
are not likely to bear fruit just like the fruit
that the seeds came from. This is because the
seed is likely to have two different trees as
parents and will therefore not grow into a tree
exactly like either parent. The only guaranteed
way of getting a new Golden Delicious apple tree
is to graft a twig from a Golden Delicious tree
on to the stem and roots of some other kind of
tree -- usually either another apple tree or a
quince tree. It is by grafting several different
varieties of apple trees onto a single stock that
an orchard is able to produce an apple tree that
bears several different varieties of apples.
Grafted trees grow faster and
bear fruit sooner than trees raised from seed,
because the stem and roots already have a good
Grafting can also be used to
change the habit of growth. For example, trees
can be dwarfed by grafting cions of vigorous
plants on less vigorous stocks. Sometimes plants
that do not thrive on a soil are grafted on stock
that grows well on that particular soil. The time
of bearing of a fruit tree, both in years and
season, can also be changed by grafting.
Another advantage of grafting is that
twigs of trees that are easily hurt by disease or
insects can be grafted on trees that are hardier
and/or more resistant.
Kinds of Grafting
In Bud Grafting a
single bud is grafted onto the stock. Fruit
trees, roses, and many ornamental plants are
propagated by budding. The cion is usually a
mature bud cut from a twig of the current year's
growth with a bit of bark and a bit of wood. The
bud is inserted in a t-shaped wound in the stock
by pushing it down, using the leafstalk as a
handle. When the bud has begun to grow, the top
of the stock is cut away close to the graft.
Whip Grafting is most
commonly used when the stock is a root. This has
long been the favorite method of propagating
apples and pears. The rootstocks are one or two
years old. They are dug in the fall and stored
until late winter, when grafting begins. Both
stock and cion are cut diagonally with a smooth
cut. A vertical cleft is then made in both root
and cion, so that they can fit closely. The
tongue of the cion is pushed into the cleft of
the stock. The joint is tightly wrapped with
waxed yarn made by soaking a ball of yarn in hot
grafting wax. The grafts are then tied in bundles
and stored, as were the cions, until planting
time in the spring.
Cleft Grafting is used
in grafting old trees. A branch 1 to 2 inches in
diameter is cut off squarely. It is then split
and a cion with a wedge-shaped butt is inserted
into the cleft. The cleft is closed around the
cion and covered with grafting wax.
Inarching is a process
of grafting two plants, each of which is on its
own roots. To graft by inarching, one removes a
small area of bark on each plant and ties the
stock and the cion together. When the union is
complete, the lower part of the scion is cut
Bark Grafting is a way
of repairing large trees. The bark is opened and
the cion is pushed down between the bark and the
wood. The cions are cut thin, held in place by a
waxed bandage, and covered with grafting wax.
In Splice Grafting,
cion and stock are cut across diagonally, laid
together, and kept in place by tying with waxed
Annual Budding is used
in grafting trees with thick bark.
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