Budding and Grafting

Budding and grafting is often discussed at our meetings. These are familiar terms to some people but to others they may sound a little, shall we say, less familiar. Here is a simple explanation of a few terms used in budding and grafting:

Note the clean separation of bark and wood. demonstrating how bark is separated from the twig.

If the sap is not flowing, the bark will not lift and the cut will have ragged edges.

One of the main reasons for budding and grafting is to increase the number of plants of a certain specimen. For instance, all the plants of the peach Elberta are clones of the original tree.

The best time for budding and grafting is when the bark separates easily from the wood. To do this, make a T- cut in the bark and ease it away from the wood. This is a sign that the sap has started to flow and the graft will take.


It may sound difficult, but let me show you how easy it is.

showing ragged bark that is not ready for grafting.

You will need:


Ok, let's get started.

Knife, budding/grafting tape, labels and plastic bag. Spacer.

1. Cut a piece of about 30 cm of tape. Keep it handy
2. Cut a branch from your selected tree, about pencil thickness. This is your scion.Trim it to about 5 or 6 buds.
3. Select your rootstock from a healthy, strongly growing tree, usually of the same genus. Stone fruit can be grafted onto another stone fruit, citrus onto citrus and pome fruit onto pome fruit.

matching scion to rootstock. Now comes the fun.
Select a branch on the rootstock of the same thickness as your scion and cut it off at an angle. Make a long cut exposing more cambium cells which will ensure a successful union between the rootstock and scion.


demonstrating matching cuts to scion and rootstock. Cut the bottom end of the scion to match the angle of the cut on the rootstock.


matching scion to rootstock. Put the scion onto the rootstock. Ensure that the cambium layers are in contact (remember they are the ones that make the magic happen).
Wind the tape tightly around the joined branch. The plant will not suffer if the join is too tight. The graft will fail if the tape is tied too loosely.


demonstrating tape wrapped around graft. Loosely fit the plastic bag over the graft.


covering whole graft with paper bag. Protect the graft from the sun by covering it with the paper bag.

Check on it every few days. The buds will start to swell and then new leaves will appear. Keep it protected against the sun, but harden it off by slowly exposing it more sunlight.

When it is growing, cut the tape off and discard it.

Zechy Zacharias Coyte-King


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