Lifestyles

Burnett: Get hooked on plant grafting

So now that we are into August and reaping the benefits of all that spring work, why not consider doing some bud grafting on your fruit trees, roses and ornamentals.

It’s definitely loads of fun. I often wonder whom the first person was to take a piece of one plant and attach it onto another.

What purpose would he or she have had in doing it? Perhaps it was an accident; after all there are several instances in nature where roots and branches have attached themselves to each other without human help.

Whatever the purpose and whatever the situation, after that first successful attempt was made, there is no doubt in my mind the excitement then is no different today for me when I manage a good graft in my garden.

Grafting plays a major role in the nursery industry.

Even though there has been an increase in other forms of propagation such as tissue culture and vegetative cuttings, it is still the most widely used practice.

It’s common to see ornamentals such as Hakuro Nishiki willows, cotoneaster  and interesting conifers grafted onto a stem creating what is known in the industry as a “standard” form.

One of my favourites is the PG Hydrangea.

For the most part these top grafted plants are used as focal points in landscape beds and are meant to stand-alone surrounded by plants that compliment them.

Most roses, ornamental trees and fruit trees are grafted. The reason we don’t just plant an apple seed or any other seed to get a new tree of the same species and variety is because we just can’t count on it being the same.

However if we graft a piece of a known variety onto a wild root stock of the same species the resulting tree will be the same every time.

While the home gardener can have such fun grafting various trees and shrubs, there is a fair amount of mystique when it comes to this craft, and for sure a lot of misunderstanding of what can and can’t be done.

August is the time to do some bud grafting. I find this easier than scion grafting, which is done in the spring. There are two methods used, one is “T” budding and the other is “Chip” budding.

I prefer using the T budding method on roses and chip budding on fruit trees and ornamentals.

A few years ago, I planted a Golden Jubilee peach tree in my back yard. Not having the room for more than one tree, I started to bud graft other varieties onto it.

I now have a tree with four varieties of peaches, a nectarine and even an almond. I don’t think there is anything more enjoyable to do in the garden than budding another variety onto a recipient tree and have it take.

Once you succeed in your first graft you will be hooked.

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