How to Graft Plants -Gardening TricksHow to Graft Plants
The garden of any given house is often it’s crowning glory because it makes all the difference to its outward appearance. An untidy garden can make a home look sloppy and old, whereas a tidy and blooming garden can give your home a little life and beauty.
However, plants, shrubs, trees, and flowers can cost a lot of money today because they tend to be expensive. Even seeds are relatively expensive these days, and then there are the tools you need as well. There is a cheaper way of making your garden bloom though, and it comes from using what you already have by grafting plants.
Grafting a plant is literally joining two plant parts together. The plants fuse together and grow as one. It may sound simple but it is a rather tricky procedure to carry out and it does usually require some practice before you become good at it. However, before you actually try to do it, you should understand just why we graft plants in the first place.
Step By Step Guide To Grafting Plants
1. Wait until early spring to collect the sections ready for grafting. The scion should always include at least three dormant leaf buds. It should also be of last year’s shoots, meaning that it came well last year. This will ensure that the process stands a chance. Place the scion in water until the rootstock has been readied for the process to begin.
2. Prepare a sterile and sharp knife in order to make the cut.
3. Cut the rootstock about 6” above the ground and make sure that the cut is clean. It should be cut upwards, meaning that there is a diagonal slope on the top of it, which will fit the scion perfectly.
4. Take the scion out of the water and place the two edges together until they fit perfectly. When they do, use rubber grafting tape to bind the two sections together and use grafting wax to seal the tape.
5. Check on the graft regularly to make sure that t is not diseased in any way. After a few weeks, the graft should begin to take, which you will be able to see from the level of fusion in the join. After six months, it should be fully fused and sprouting.
Why Do We Graft Plants?
The grafting of the scion of the plant (complete with a dormant bud) with the rootstock is a common practice amongst experienced gardeners for a number of reasons, most of which are related to the effect that it has on the plant itself. All of the following are valid reasons:
• You can graft plants to either increase the growth of the existing plant or reduce the growth. It is actually an effective means of dwarfing a plant.
• It can enable you to propagate plants that you have but cannot find in seed form. You can encourage the growth of the plant by grafting year after year, whereas it may otherwise fail with no hope of coming back again.
• It can help prevent against disease in that t can help to build up a level of resistance against pest and existing disease that other plants may be subject to.
• It can also help to prevent the effects of the environment from damaging the plant because it does make the plants hardier.
There are also a variety of other reasons why grafting can be a good thing, including an increase of the incidence of pollination and to increase the variety of plants you have.
Taking Stock of Grafted Tomatoes
Like clockwork, with each new gardening season come to the latest plant introductions and the trendiest new cultivars. A few of these new varieties will become instant classics, while others will end up as no more than a distant memory by next July.
This year more than ever, fruit and vegetables seem to be front and center, with an increasing number of homeowners surrendering more space to food production, while apartment balconies that once dripped with morning glories are now covered in cucumber vines.
Although I do most of my plant buying at local or specialty nurseries, ever since Loblaw started its Garden Centre Recycled Pot Program in 2008 (it’s still the only national pot and flat recycling program in North America) I’ve made a point of supporting them. Loblaw shops the world for exciting new plants and products, and this year they may have hit the foodie jackpot. In addition to edibles like Haskap berries (Lonicera caerulea CVS.) and Pinot Meunier grapes, they’ve also introduced hardy figs and grafted tomatoes to Canadian gardeners for the first time.
Most of us are familiar with woody plants that have been grafted onto compatible rootstocks (roses, for instance), but vegetables can also be grafted in much the same way. As early as the 1920s, watermelons were grafted onto squash rootstock in Korea and Japan to combat soil-borne diseases. Since then, grafting vegetables—particularly those from the Solanaceae family (tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant)—has become common practice in the Far East, and more recently in Italy, Spain, and France.
The rootstock Loblaw used for its tomatoes is called SuperNatural and is derived from species tomatoes with the variety (or scion) tube-grafted on top. Why go to all that bother? Tomato cultivars grafted onto “wild” rootstock results in stronger plants that grow up to 1.8 meters tall and look more like dwarf fruit trees than tomato vines. Yields are significantly higher than with nongrafted plants and the harvest period is longer. The rootstock is resistant to nematodes and many soil-borne diseases, resulting in healthier vines. Grafted tomatoes stand up well to extremes of temperature, drought and saline soils, while nutrient and water uptake are enhanced, resulting in larger fruit. Advantages like these amount to nothing short of an agricultural breakthrough.
The grafted tomatoes I’ve planted this year include:
- The delicious heirloom ‘Brandywine’—which I’ve grown before—but it was on its own roots!
- New to me for 2013 is the cherry tomato Bumblebee Purple (Bumblebee Series) and the antioxidant-rich almost black Indigo Apple.